Chapter Six: Guest Appearances

In this chapter, we focus on how guest appearances can promote an organization. We will discuss four types of guest appearances and give examples of how these have benefitted various ACB chapters.

Guest appearances are an effective free way of promoting an organization. We will now look at four types of appearances which are especially beneficial.
 

Local Radio and TV

Many local radio and TV stations provide community programming opportunities which can be easily taken advantage of. Many radio stations offer a weekly forum publicizing community organizations and events. News or talk shows often focus on specific national days (such as White Cane Safety Day) or weeks. These are excellent opportunities to make a guest appearance and mention your organization and what it does in relation to these special times.
 
Many radio stations offer opportunities to comment on news stories. When a news story about vision loss or blindness comes up, this offers you an excellent chance to call in and talk about the story, and mention your organization.
 
Many local television stations have local programming. In addition, some cable channels are specifically set aside as public access channels.  It is easy to contact the manager or the program director of such stations to set up a time to make an appearance to discuss blindness or visual impairment, along with your organization.
 

Clubs and Organizations

Most clubs and civic organizations are actively seeking presenters to educate their members on community issues. Some of these clubs and organizations include Lions Clubs, Kiwanis Clubs, and Rotary Clubs.
 
Most local newspapers advertise meetings of clubs and organizations. One way to offer to present at these meetings is to visit a meeting and meet the club or organization’s leadership. At this time, let the leadership know you are interested in presenting on vision loss or blindness in general and on your affiliate in particular.
 
Another way to get an opportunity to present to clubs and organizations is to circulate around your community that you would like to make such appearances. Word of mouth is the best promotion. Once you make a few successful presentations, you may get regular phone calls to present.
 

Schools and Universities

Schools and universities are eager to educate students on blindness and visual impairment. A phone call to local elementary, middle, and high schools will let them know that you are interested in educating students as well. When you talk about your personal experience with vision loss, you can promote your organization as a valuable resource for those who have vision problems.
 
Calling the school or college of education at your local university is a way to open another door. Professors are eager to have future teachers exposed to individuals with vision loss.  Again, as you talk about vision loss and blindness in general, and about your individual situation in particular, you have the opportunity to tell how being involved in your affiliate of ACB has been valuable to you.
 

Conferences and Conventions

Another opportunity for public appearances comes with conventions and conferences pertaining to vision or vision loss. Finding out about conventions and conferences coming to your area gives you the chance to approach planners of the conventions or conferences to offer yourself as a resource who can talk about vision loss.
 
Ophthalmology or optometry conferences are excellent opportunities to give presentations on vision loss. Conferences on adjustment and employment of individuals with vision loss are also excellent opportunities.
 

Examples

The North Dakota Association of the Blind has an annual walk-a-thon. Individuals appear on television shows in the state to solicit donations and to publicize NDAB. Members of the South Dakota Association of the Blind have made appearances on a community forum that airs on the radio to talk about vision loss, and two members of the organization appeared on a morning TV show to discuss braille literacy. One member of the South Dakota Association of the Blind takes advantage of news stories pertaining to vision loss. He calls a local talk show and talks about the story, about vision loss in general, and about SDAB in particular.
 
Members of the South Dakota Association of the Blind present at meetings of clubs throughout the state. This organization is currently sending out offers to speak to all Lions Clubs in the state.
 
Members of both the North and South Dakota Associations of the Blind have given presentations to elementary school classes on vision loss. In addition, one member of the South Dakota Association of the Blind works at a university and often has opportunities to talk about blindness in various classes.
 
Several members of the South Dakota Association of the Blind present at “Focus On Success” – a triennial conference sponsored to promote the adjustment and employment of individuals who are blind and visually impaired. At the 2011 “Focus On Success,” a specific panel on consumer organizations will have two members of SDAB as participants.
 
As you can see, there are many free opportunities to promote your ACB affiliate through guest appearances. Appearances on radio and TV, at meetings of clubs and organizations, in schools and universities, and at conferences and conventions are all effective ways to promote your affiliate.