Advocacy: Showing Off Your Teens to the Community

The first step in showcasing the accomplishments of your teens and the beneficial effects the library has on their lives is to befriend your library’s Public Relations department or staff. You’ve got to have a good relationship with the staff at your library who are in contact with the media

At my library, we have a PR Department of 2 part-time staff members. They have connections with every single media outlet in the area, and they are always looking for stories about library patrons and services. While I was able to develop a good relationship with them from my first week at my library, that isn’t always what happens with Teen Services staff.

If you haven’t interacted with your PR or marketing staff very much, it’s not too late to start. Scan through your past emails from them and find out what kinds of things they work on. Have they asked for help with anything lately? Offer yourself up as tribute. Do you have a big program coming up that you want help publicizing? Ask for their help. Show them that you respect their expertise and that you need them to do what they do best.

Collecting information is the next step. Take lots of photos, particularly of teens doing something that the general public can relate to, such as making a craft, working with kids, volunteering, or even just reading. Keep the photos organized, and make sure you have photo release forms or parental permission to use the photos. With my teen volunteers, I make notes in their file about the kinds of tasks they do, so it’s easier to remember and share later.

If you’re writing up a story about a particular teen, get permission from that teen’s parent or guardian, or at least have them sign a photo release form. I sometimes modify photo release forms or add a line to them that mentions that the teen’s name and basic information may be shared on library media outlets.

From there the possibilities are endless. Some of my favorite advocacy methods through public relations are shared below:

  • Send pictures and write-ups of great teen programs or stories to your PR staff, who can then send it on to local newspapers or post it on the library’s social media outlets.
  • Record videos of your teens sharing what the library means to them.
  • Have your TAB/TAG write out what they love about the library on signs that they hold up, and take pictures – these can make powerful posters, fliers, and marketing material.

Tips:

  • Always inform your supervisor when you send photos or stories to PR/Marketing.
  • Remember that people talk to each other, and you want them to have positive things to say about the library.
  • Remember the little warm & fuzzy things that happen at programs, and share those with your supervisor and coworkers.
  • If you meet a teen’s parent or family, share stories with them.
  • If you have a TAB/TAG, invite other library staff who work with teens, or even your PR staff, to join in the discussion sometimes.

What methods have you used to show off your teens? Share in the comments or on our Facebook page!

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