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Tour Publicity Packet

TRACES offers several forms of help to hosts in publicizing a given up-coming exhibit showing—including interviews and press releases, a downloadable poster to hang in high-traffic public places, exhibit-specific teaching materials and tips for more effective showings. Tips relate to more effectively reaching and teaching school groups (as well as attracting other kinds of learners), planning larger events in which to imbed the exhibit, where to most effectively hang posters and on what cycles to undertake primary publicity efforts.

**Attention Indiana Hosts** If you are using TRACES publicity material please include the following:

"This program has been made possible through a matching grant from the Indian Humanities Council in cooperation with the National Endowment for the Humanities."


School Groups

       First, contact local public as well as private school teachers—especially middle and high school teachers, in particular those who teach social studies or related topics. Inform them and their administrators of the exact date, time and place of the exhibit showing. Also, draw their attention to TRACES’ web site, to the downloadable exhibit-related teaching materials, and to the exhibit narratives available there: explain that besides doing the tailored lessons, actually having their students—on-line or via print outs—read the exhibit’s narrative text before the showing enables students to derive much more from the overall exhibit, especially as they then can focus on the approximately 350 scanned-in photos, documents and artwork from the camps, as well as on the ten display cases with POW artifacts, the videos, Power Point program, etc.
       Ask teachers to indicate whether or not they plan on bringing their students to the exhibit. If so, it is highly advisable to specifically schedule and balance (!) school groups’ visits: the BUS-eum comfortably can accommodate 25-30 kids at a time, but two teachers or staff must be on the BUS at all times—one in the very back, one in the front. (Note that a mob of students converging on the BUS usually clears any senior citizens lingering over the exhibit in mere seconds…) On average, a 15-20 minute visit to the BUS suffices for most students; Advanced Placement or other special-focus classes will gain from longer visits. Should busing needs dictate that, say, two classes come at once, one class can be addressed in front of the first display panel, outside, to the left of the BUS entrance, and given instruction while the other class tours the BUS’ interior: after an appointed time, the two groups can switch places. A television built into the entry side of the BUS, showing a related video, also can occupy students’ attention either while waiting to board the BUS or after they have viewed it.
       If teachers are unable to bring their students during school hours, consider inviting them to award Extra Credit for an after-school or weekend visit to the BUS: a host representative simply needs to have a sign-in sheet available, to submit to the teacher(s) after the exhibit showing, to document which students did tour the BUS. In this event, it is recommendable that teachers send a Worksheet with the students to the BUS, as that makes for a more personally meaningful and pedagogically effective visit.

Other Kinds of Learners

       Contact any local colleges, universities or senior-citizen education programs (e.g. Elder Hostel) and be sure they know the exhibit is coming, as often it complements instructors’ courses in, for example, history, Holocaust studies, ethics, politics, etc. TRACES-generated teaching materials will be of little use to such groups, but if given enough warning, instructors can design their own materials, if desired, or give background information before the date of the exhibit. Other groups will also be interested in seeing the exhibit: civic and fraternal societies, church circles, youth clubs, veterans, etc.


       Some previous exhibit-host communities have made a BUS-eum stop in their town part of a larger event or even series of social or cultural events. A BUS-eum visit is an auspicious occasion to honor local veterans—for example—or to focus on wider issues involving war and peace: many libraries have displayed related in-house books or even pertinent artifacts (borrowed from local individuals or historical organizations) in their buildings for a week or more before the exhibit date. Some book clubs have read related works prior to the exhibit showing, and libraries as well as museums have made a BUS visit one in a series of guest speakers or presentations. (As May 2005 marks the 60th anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany and the end of WWII in Europe, this tour is a fitting observance.) TRACES’ books make ideal foci for either your local public-library/historical-society collections or book-club readings; they can be ordered for pre-exhibit-showing use at http://www.traces.org/shop.html.
       Where local print or electronic media sources (including community-access/cable TV) work well with exhibit hosts, Behind Barbed Wire has been one in a series of feature articles or TV/radio spots about local or world history, etc. Related newspaper series that run for some time prior to the BUS-eum’s visit are an invaluable contribution to community life and culture in any town. Especially effective are printed or taped interviews with local residents either who were POWs (in Europe or the Pacific) or who have other WWII stories to tell, appearing over a period of time preceding the BUS’ visit. (Should you wish, and are prepared to arrange the connection, Michael Luick-Thrams is willing to be interviewed—live or taped—by your local media for pre-exhibit release.)
       Some hosts have coordinated a BUS stop with local festivals, fairs or anniversaries (of the local library’s founding, the town itself, etc.). Some have built Veterans Appreciation Breakfasts, community barbeques or ice cream socials around a BUS visit, or held assorted fundraisers during the showing to attract donations to various charities. Speech contests have been held in conjunction with the exhibit, as well as History Day (or other scholastic) events, school dramas, Memorial Day services, award ceremonies and the like.
       As surviving Midwest POWs—let alone those community members with living memories of WWII—become fewer in number literally every day, a BUS-eum visit is a perfect time to record local history. If the host cannot undertake such a project directly, often it can find others in the community (individuals or organizations, community-access/cable TV, etc.) who will. Have an audio or (better yet) video recorder at hand, and pre-arrange a quiet corner where project members might record willing senior citizens’ reminiscences of their experiences during WWII. The resulting tapes should be at least duplicated if not triplicated, with a copy going to a state or local historical society, another to a secure [second] local repository, etc. Let community members know in advance that, as the exhibit’s local host, your organization welcomes the donation of WWII-related documents, photos, artwork or artifacts. Any recordings and artifacts gathered on the day of an expanded exhibit “event” will prove invaluable community assets far into the future.


The downloadable poster is formulated to fit standard 8.5 x 11-inch paper (the heavier the stock the better, to resist winds and water). After you have inserted your institution’s relevant information, make as many copies as you wish (color or black and white, but we find color really does attract much more notice) and hang them in places your community members most frequent, for example: grocery stores, gas stations, post offices, cafes, video shops, feed stores/grain elevators, gyms, churches, bus stops, senior citizen and veterans’ centers, civic clubs’ meeting sites, under the checkout counter of your library, museum(s), etc.


In the past, a successful sequence has been for exhibit hosts to work as closely with local media representatives as the reps are willing to cooperate (which varies, based on reps’ personalities, your past relationship with them, etc.). Ideally, a “large article” about the coming BUS visit should appear in the week before the actual showing, with a smaller “reminder” appearing in the week or even day of the showing. Don’t forget to inform the various Community Calendars available in your community: they, too, will require adequate lead time.


We encourage a local host’s representative, who’s been organizing the visit, to offer interviews to newspaper, television or radio reporters in their community or region. Any interview spot is helpful, but live (even better, call-in) interviews are the most attention-catching. If desired, Michael Luick-Thrams is available for pre-visit phone interviews, but only if the local hosts contact the reporters themselves and give them Michael’s cell number of 651.373.9587. Usually, the optimal time range for a live interview seems to be three to five days prior to a showing and not earlier, as people forget…

Press Releases

Press Releases for use by exhibit hosts, the media or other potential users come in three versions. The first is a Newspaper/TV Release, intended (intact or excerpted) for use in local newspapers, newsletters, email list serves, etc. The second is Radio Release. Individual hosts can decide which variation they prefer to use, for which audience(s). Each should be tailored to a specific host by inserting the place, time, date and contact information of the local showing.

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