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Lessons from Mavis Daly

She was a publicist who knew how to pitch her cause

George and Mavis Daly at their love, the Captain Avery Museum.
     I said good-bye to a friend this week. Not that I was alone. 
     Mavis Glander Daly made many friends in her 93 years on this earth. Generations gathered at her farewell. Looking over her beloved Chesapeake watershed — a far sight from her homeland of Montana and South Dakota — from the West River Center, we reflected on what she’d meant to us. 
     Memorials like this are enlightening and endearing as each speaker reveals new facets of the person we knew in only our own way. Who knew, for example, that Mavis and her cherished husband George, childless themselves, became swimming directors for their neighborhood? Or that George and she played Santa and Mrs. Claus to a generation of children at Captain Avery Museum?
     Most everybody, however, knew Mavis as a relentless organizer who brought the skills of a Congressional staffer to her retirement in sleepy Southern Anne Arundel County. Part of her power was her excellence as a writer, and many spoke with gratitude of how Mavis taught them to write — and speak — for themselves. 
     In my turn, I described myself as a sitting duck to her persuasive barrage.
     New Bay Times, this paper’s birth name, came into being the same year Mavis and George began their six-year term as co-presidents of Captain Avery Museum, by birth Shady Side Rural Heritage Society. The couple devoted themselves to the Society and the Museum. George, Mavis wrote in her Memoirs in 2007, “felt it was important that he and I leave some mark in the world before we left it. Not having children to carry on our legacy, he felt the Museum would always be something from which posterity could benefit.”
     The opportunity of a brand-new newspaper in her stomping grounds was not lost on Mavis, who handled building relationships for the Museum while George managed building the place.
     Into our shoebox Deale office she walked. Out she walked with, over the years, enough Bay Weekly stories to make a book on her beloved Museum and George, who was featured as Santa, boatbuilder and expert yoyoist.
     Over those years, Mavis became a friend. She also proved herself the truest advocate and best publicist who has yet to work their will on me. 
     So it is that when I’m asked, as I often am, how to get Bay Weekly to write your story, I answer Be Mavis Daly — or take lessons from her. As those alternatives are no longer possible, in tribute to her I offer the example of her method, with my annotations.
     1. Reach out in person. Email is a wonderful aid, and Mavis used it early and long. But with hundreds each day in my inbox, I read like a buzzsaw. 
     2. Buy my time with grace. Charm, understanding what my paper might need: those are some of the forms of grace. So is making any visit or call brief.
     3. Persuade me of the value of your cause and its worth to my readers. Good publicists like Mavis make it their business to know the interests and scope of the medium they’re hoping will work for them.
      4. Back up your persuasion with timely facts. This is the job for email: the factual, informative, accurate press release.
      5. Say thank you. I’ll remember your thanks when you return another day.
      6. Keep in touch — especially when you don’t want something from me. Mavis was a master of keeping in touch. If you had a success, she congratulated you. On your birthday, she sent a card. Her network was knit person to person.
You won’t be surprised to learn that Mavis planned much of her last stand, or that it was organized by Captain Avery Museum members. The farewell song — sung to break hearts by Michael Ryan, retired vocalist of the President’s Own United States Marine Band — was I’ll Be Seeing You.
When you come to me wanting a story, I hope I’ll see Mavis in you.