With the help of Dan Yeager of NEMA, the Alliance has put together this publicity toolkit so you can make the most of your advocacy efforts while also advancing our shared cause. This toolkit can be used by those coming to Washington, D.C., as well as those advocating from home surrounding Museums Advocacy Day. The more voices making our case in the media on or around Feb. 26, the better our chances of making this a truly national advocacy day for museums.
For those who have either a small communications staff—or no communications staff—please find below our primer on using these tools to best advantage, based on the limited time we know you have.
Each of these items can be customized, so you can showcase your museum first and foremost. This localizing is also critical to the success of publicity efforts because, like politics, all news is local.
If you decide to employ the toolkit, check in with the Alliance (Dewey Blanton: 202-218-7794) so that we might coordinate with others in your region doing the same. Having a media outlet receive the same pitch from two different museums will likely end our chances of advocacy coverage, and your own credibility with your local media might be eroded as well, for the long term.
If you only have five minutes, try this:
Letter to the Editor
This is a template for the standard length letter to the editor for your local paper. You may need to localize it more to interest your editor. Depending on the type of outlet and size of the market, you should submit this to the media at least a week before Museums Advocacy Day.
If you have 20 minutes, try this:
Main Press Release
Designed to let your local media know you are coming to Washington, D.C., as a citizen-lobbyist, making the case for museums everywhere. You can email this to your local media with a brief, personal introduction from you, conveying your availability for interviews or commentary before, during or after Museums Advocacy Day. You should send to the media at least two weeks beforehand and, as with all these items, follow-up via phone.
If you have an hour, try one of these:
This provides the media with some ideas how they might cover your advocacy efforts. This can be used on its own or as a follow up to the main release (above). The media will often take your suggested story ideas and adapt them to better suit the editorial approach of the media outlet.
Read by influentials, op-eds give you the opportunity to be both persuasive and authoritative. These op-eds include a “hole” for you to insert information and statistics relevant to your own museum, community or region. Ideally, this should be submitted to the editorial page/op-ed page editor two weeks before Museums Advocacy Day.
Public Service Announcement (PSA)
This could prove a good fallback should you come up empty with your local radio. You can pitch them on recording a public service announcement with you, for them to air at their discretion, before, during and after Museums Advocacy Day. Be prepared for editing on the part of the station; it is often necessary in order to fit the station’s format. PSAs often need to be reviewed by the station weeks in advance,
If you have two hours, try this:
Local radio (particularly your local public radio station, if you have one in your community) is a prime target for coverage of your advocacy efforts. Execution of some of the ideas contained in this pitch message will require time-sensitive commitments from you, as well as asking you to play reporter. You should get this to the news editor of your local station (if not public broadcasting, all-news stations are a good target) at least two weeks beforehand. Be prepared for some back-and-forth to work out the logistics.