My name’s John and I’m a Publicity Champion. This sounds like something you might hear in a church basement where everyone confesses their bad habits or at a seven-year-old’s fancy-dress party but for the past few months I’ve been working with other librarians up and down the country developing publicity materials for libraries to use to promote their services.

The Publicity Champions project was set up following a request from regional library leads for library and knowledge services “to have a suite of standard robust publicity materials which they can use to promote their services as effectively and efficiently as possible.”

A group was set up jointly shared by Sue Robertson from Health Education England and Lucy Reid from South London and Maudsley NHS Trust. Members with “expertise and enthusiasm,” were recruited to the group whose members included:

• Helen Muggleston-Dahlke (Berkshire Healthcare Library)
• Chloe George (Gloucestershire Hospitals)
• Jennifer Roberts (Leeds Teaching Hospitals)
• John Gale (Mid-Cheshire NHS Foundation Trust)
• Semanti Chakraborty (University Hospitals Birmingham)
• Lynne Mackie (Barts Health)
• Karen Clements (Queen Victoria Hospital)
• Rebecca Parrott (Princess Alexandra Hospital)

My claims to expertise – such as they are – come from producing posters for the JET Library and helping people working for the Trust with the posters they produce as part of their Leadership Academy course. I have become something of a poster doctor for people on the course and now do a training session on producing posters which was very well received. I’m also more than a little obsessive about fonts although I don’t necessarily think the NHS has chosen the best ones available for their official typefaces!

At the start of the project each of us was given an area to promote. We share what we’ve produced via WebEx which gives us the opportunity to provide feedback on each other’s efforts. Before we started work we each took the online version of a copywriting course written by Ruth Sneddon, a professional copywriter, who runs a company called Dream Copywriting. Currently our work is being looked at by the library leads. When they approve it the designs will be sent off to professional graphic designers to apply the finishing touches to and to give that extra level of professionalism. We hope to produce ‘empty-belly,’ versions of the posters to which people can add their own library’s contact details.

Rather like being at school – although without the elements of rejection and humiliation inescapable when minors are asked to engage in such activities – we’ve been asked to get into pairs, based on our regions, to promote the Publicity Champions initiative. So, look out for us at a library meeting near you, and keep an eye out for the posters, leaflets and flyers when they appear!