Get Your Key Message Across Effectively

By Dorcas Hand, Editor of TASLTalks

As a member of a non-library board, I am learning a little about fundraising techniques. After participating in this organization’s board discussions, I’ve been struck by the fact that those techniques are remarkably similar to what we call “advocacy” in schools and libraries.  The biggest point of commonality? In order to get results, we have to be really clear about our message. What is the bottom line for our “ask?”

You’ve been reading in the library literature about elevator speeches and such forever. But then this new approach – this key message grid – landed in my inbox from the other organization.  It looks  like this:

The minute I saw this, my board member hat fell off as the wheels began spinning: how could I make this work for school libraries. It is such a simple, step-by-step method to build your talking points. You can see this example is very basic, working to get more face time with students – but it works for more sophisticated topics as well.

This second one doesn’t yet have the last column, but I think you get the general idea. Make it work for you! Whether it is an elevator speech you need, or a project/program proposal, this method is helpful – with every audience, depending how you focus the supporting info and the Ask.

ALA offers ESSA Elevator Speech Examples planned by the same grid approach. I guess my discovery isn't so new - but maybe you didn't know it either and will find it useful. And we're all working on ESSA topics these days!

Go ahead, pick any general point you want to make. Take it from a general statement to directed content specific to your library and your community. Build in your supporting info. What do you want to happen after your audience hears this info? How can you tailor it even more to the specific person or group so that they can see exactly what they might do to support your school library. “Mr. Smith, please stop by to see the work second graders have done learning about turtles using library resources. I’d love to chat about ways to make the library even better.” “Mr. Smith, third grade has enjoyed using iPads to find the right books for their library research – they just don’t have internet or books at home. We would love more iPads – I think PTA might help us, with your support.”

I offered a template to the Key Message Grid at the District 10 Fall conference - perhaps it will make your job easier.

In some ways, this is just the same thing we’ve always done – but the grid makes it seem so much clearer and easier. At least to me. So try it. See if you can get some unexpected results because you have clarified your message and focused it to a specific person or group. I’d love to hear what results you get!  Use the “Reply” function on this blog – other readers will also appreciate your applications of the grid idea. Really -yes, you!

Advocacy Made Simple: Reaching Local Supporters and Decision Makers

By Dorcas Hand, Editor of TASLTalks blog

The TLA Legislative Committee has recently been sponsoring a series of free and openly available webinars called Doable Action series focused on advocacy. Two main threads ran across several library types (public, academic and school): Rallying Supporters and Empowering Friends and Reaching and Talking To Local Decision Makers. The series will wrap up on Dec. 7 with a final session for all librarians together, State Advocacy for Librarians to prepare us to talk to our legislators as the new legislative session begins in the spring- you can register now. Thanks to Jennifer LaBoon and Becky Sullivan, along with Gloria Meraz and Ted Wanner, for cooking this series up - it focuses on practical tips and resources to help us be ready every day to make things better for our library programs.

On September 29, Cindy Buchanan (Aldine ISD) and Nicole Cruz (Sharyland ISD) offered their array of ideas on how to get your local community behind your efforts. School Libraries Rallying Supporters and Empowering Friends is archived in the TXLA Continuing Education Corner for anyone to view later, and there is an accompanying quiz for anyone who needs CE credit. My favorite tip is that Persistence pays off - I translate that to mean that “No” is an opportunity to rework a request for greater success. You know that students don’t always get a new idea the first time it is presented in class - so the teacher reworks the presentation until the student does get it. Our stakeholders need the same care and attention.

On October 12, Susi Grissom and I offered School Libraries Reaching and Talking To Local Decision Makers, also archived in the CE Corner. In addition to the full recording, we offer you an extensive list of resources, organized by the slide they relate to. As we were building the slide show, we realized we wanted to bring you the direct voice of administrators so that you would know what they listen to best - so we did. TASL’s 2016 Administrator of the Year Chris Nester sat with his librarian, Debra Marshall in the library at Wilson Elementary in Coppell ISD to tell us how he learned how essential libraries are to his students and what to expect of a good librarian. And Superintendent Dr. Bill Chapman of Jarrell ISD with his District Librarian Vanessa Ascraft offer us a tutorial in how to talk to administrators so that you are more likely to get what you ask for. These videos are worth watching on their own, and showing to your colleagues - please take advantage of their availability. And if you see either admin or librarian, thank them for taking the time to make these 5 minute videos that are so helpful to us.

Links to the presentations are also available on the TASL Advocacy webpage. So now, in the comfort of your own home or office, take time to watch and learn. Improve your advocacy tools and then apply them for greater success. And Share with your library colleagues or with your staff.  That’s why they are archived and easy to find again and again.