Super Library Marketing: All kinds of marketing ideas for all kinds of libraries.

Six Shrewd Ways to Spot Trends For Your Library Marketing

Contrary to popular belief, librarians are trendy! I’m not just talking about the physical sporting of tattoos, body piercings, and colored hair. I’m talking about the more important stuff. Most librarians know how to work all kinds of advanced technological equipment like 3D printers. They are well-versed in the latest studies about public space, childhood literacy, mental illness, and poverty. Because they interact with all ages of the public all the time, they often see issues like the opioid epidemic, emerging before anyone else. They have inside knowledge about how trends affect the lives of their cardholders.

It’s important to library marketing pros to spot trends too. We have to make decisions about whether to react. So how do you keep an eye on the things that matter to your cardholders? Here are six easy tools for keeping up-to-date on trends of all sorts.

Facebook Topics and Trends ReportThis annual report is worth your time. It’s a yearly summary of the most popular conversations happening on the platform. This report covers everything from culture to technology to food. It’s useful for planning your marketing calendar. You can take any of these topics and apply it to items and services available at the library, then work those into your marketing plan. Use keywords and suggestions in this report to boost the engagement of your posts on Facebook, Instagram, and beyond.

Google Trends. This tool is a lot of fun! Type in a keyword and get a picture of what people are talking about related to that word. It will even drill down on data, showing you specific searches, timelines, and places where that term is searched. I often use this tool to search book titles or authors, seasonal keywords, or pop culture references to get a more accurate feel for how many people are talking about them.

What is trending on social media platforms? Most of the major social platforms now have an area where you can check keywords or trending topics. Do so regularly. Then use those trending topics to curate posts from reliable sources. Pick content that is appealing and relevant to your audience. Even if you don’t immediately find a way to use the ideas you find on these social channels, checking them keeps you connected to the things that matter to your users. Twitter is a great place to discover the topics used in social conversation specific to your geographic area. The Pinterest trending section is a feast for the eyes but can also show you the kinds of Pins that are getting engagement so you can mimic that success or share them with your followers. There is ALWAYS a booklist in the Pinterest trending feed that you can repin, as well as tons of fun craft and program ideas for your librarians! Snapchat’s Discover section will help you keep up to date on pop culture so you can market your items and services, like streaming music and downloads, and appeal to that coveted younger audience. Ditto with Instagram’s trending section.

What is trending in the podcast world? Every month or so, I open my podcast player and check the trending podcast list. Why? Podcasts are a commitment. If the public is taking the time to listen to 20 minutes of talk about a particular topic, then it might be something we want to pay attention to!

Ted Talks. The nonprofit is dedicated to spreading ideas that are worth talking about. New talks appear several times a week. If you don’t have time to actually listen to all the talks, a quick check of the topics will give you a sense of the kinds of technology, humanitarian, and educational ideas flowing into mainstream thought.

What questions are your librarians getting? Every once in a while, I’ll email the manager of our Virtual Information Center. That’s the department in my library that takes all the calls and chats from the public. I ask for the top ten questions they’re getting from people and then I use that list to create content to answer those questions. It’s easy and it directly impacts your users (and your staff!).

Subscribe to this blog and you’ll receive an email every time I post. To do that, click on “Follow” button in the bottom left-hand corner of the page. Connect with me on Twitter, Snapchat, and LinkedIn. I talk about library marketing on all those platforms! 


Eight Easy Secrets to Create Competitive Emails For Your Library

I spend the majority of my day working on email marketing for my library. Marketing your services, collection, and programs to your cardholders by email is powerful. And it’s easy. I want to be very clear–you need to be emailing your cardholders. You can do it, no matter how big or small your library is. It is more than important… it is necessary. Failing to email your cardholders is a huge mistake.

It’s taken me a long time and a lot of experimentation to learn what to do and what not to do when I email my cardholders. I want to convince you that email marketing is doable. Start with these eight easy tips to create amazing library emails. You can compete with other companies for a space in your cardholders inbox. Done well, your cardholders will even begin to look forward to your emails! Try it and watch how emails help you reach your overall marketing goals.

Don’t be afraid to email. The most common comment I receive from other libraries when we’re discussing email marketing is a fear of sending too many emails. “I don’t want to be viewed as spam.” I’ve said it before and I’m going to say it again here: you can’t send too many emails. The rules for avoiding the spam box which apply to other companies don’t apply to libraries. Our cardholders love us. They love what we offer. They want us to reach out to them. It’s the biggest advantage we have over other industries. I send tens of thousands of emails to my cardholders every week and my unsubscribe rate is zero percent. I’m not joking. Our library uses the OrangeBoy product Savannah for emailing. It divides our cardholders into clusters based on their card activity. My general rule is to send 2-3 emails every week to cardholders who use our digital services, like our eBooks and online databases. The rest of the clusters get 1-2 emails a week. And still, our unsubscribe rate remains at zero percent. Let go of the fear of becoming spam. Reach out to your cardholders. They love you, I promise.

Embrace the fear of failure. The second most common fear I hear from libraries considering email marketing is the fear of failure. It’s totally natural. And it’s easy for me to tell you not to be afraid. I don’t work for your boss and I don’t know the expectations of your library. But I truly believe that failure is a natural and necessary part of learning what works for your library. So my best advice is to tell your boss upfront that failure will be a part of the email marketing process. You’ll do your best to avoid it, but you’ll also learn from it when it happens. Be clear that you’ll keep an eye on the successes and failures of your emails, you’ll report periodically with the results of those emails, and you’ll change course once it’s clear that something isn’t working.

Planning is key. Create a planning calendar for your emails in the same way you do for your other promotions. Whenever possible, plan your emails six months in advance. Send emails to promote your programs at least three weeks before the program. Fill the rest of your calendar with your collection-based emails. Leave space for those last-minute emails you might want to add to the calendar.

Timing is everything. Think about your own email box. It gets overloaded during certain times of the year, especially around the holidays and at the beginning and end of the school year (right when most of us are launching summer reading programs). Avoid sending emails during the times when other companies are sending. That doesn’t mean you have to avoid sending emails related to the holidays but do it early. For example, I send my holiday reading book list the week before Thanksgiving to avoid getting lost in the Black Friday and holiday emails.

Write a killer subject line and keep it to seven words or less if you can. Sure, shorter subject lines are harder to write. We’re librarians–we want to make sure people have all the information! But short subject lines will inspire the curiosity of your cardholders. And, more importantly, of the biggest reasons to keep it short is technical. Most email providers have a character cutoff and beyond that, the rest of your subject line is truncated. Here’s some more advice for writing subject lines for library emails.

Be a giver. Your emails should always offer something to your cardholder. They should be as closely matched to the cardholder’s persona as possible. Market your collection, particularly your new materials. Include a short description of the item and a direct link to the catalog. Market your programs in the same way. Include a short description and a link to the event calendar or registration form.

Less text is more. Try to keep the wording of your email to a minimum. A few lines about what you’re offering with a call to action and a link to more information is your best tactic. You don’t have to worry about writing a paragraph. A few, well-crafted sentences and you’re off to the races.

Measure results. You must measure the results of your emails and adjust your strategy if necessary. Otherwise, you’re wasting your time. I wrote a whole post about how to measure results. You can read it here.

Subscribe to this blog and you’ll receive an email every time I post. To do that, click on “Follow” button on the bottom left-hand corner of the page. Connect with me on Twitter, Snapchat, and LinkedIn. I talk about library marketing on all those platforms! 

Inspiring Advice from Library Marketers Who Love Their Work

Every two years, my library holds staff development days. It’s a conference of sorts that lasts all day. The training focuses on one issue that generally affects our public library customers, like addiction, poverty, homelessness, and mental illness. I always learn something, even though I’m not a member of frontline staff. But this year, I was actually inspired while listening to the speakers. Their talks made me think about how the work of my marketing team affects the lives of our cardholders. During the closing session, I found myself writing part of this blog post on the back of a worksheet. It was a bit of advice and inspiration for myself… but then I got to thinking that I should share it here.

If you work in a public library, I bet you are as exhausted as I am after the long season of promotion leading up to summer reading. If you work in academia, the month or two before exams can feel like a marathon. Some elementary and secondary librarians are struggling just to make it to summer vacation. Six months into the year, we all feel a little worn down, don’t we? We need a reminder that our work is important. Here’s what I want you to know about the work you do.

Library marketing professionals are committed to cardholders. Every single marketer I’ve ever met in this space is thinking about the good of the cardholder over the good of anything else. I’m so proud of this profession!

The work you do feels small… but it’s a movement. We tend to think our work is not important. But we are part of a large social movement to make a real difference in the world. It feels normal and insignificant because we’ve done it for so long. It’s not normal or insignificant. You are heroes. You are amazing. Keep it up!

To recharge your batteries further, I asked for some advice from some fellow library marketing professionals. Here’s what they want you to think about as you head into the next six months

Amanda L. Goodman, Publicity Manager at Darien Library in Darien, Connecticut:  “Stay organized. Teach project management skills to colleagues that you work closely with. When you’re working on a big project with tight deadlines, it’s helpful when you’re all pulling together to get tasks accomplished on time. Schedule more time than you think you will need. Something else will always come up.”

Athens Miguel Moreno, Technology Manager at Glencoe Public Library in Glencoe, Illinois: “Organize your photos, whether on your phone or computer, make it easier on yourself to never have to hunt around for a good picture.”

Tanya Milligan, Project Librarian at Falkirk Library in the United Kingdom: “Always think of the needs, interests and wants of your users in everything you do. If you aren’t sure about their needs, interests and wants, then ask!”

Lori Juhlin, Library Director at Hawarden Public Library in Hawarden, Iowa: “Your frontline staff are your best marketers, because if someone receives great service, they may tell others, but even more so if they have a bad experience.”

Kristin Lauri Readel, Director, Frost Free Library in Marlborough, New Hampshire: “Double check dates & times with the correct calendar. Use Canva!”

Carol Eyman, Outreach Coordinator of the Nashua Public Library in Nashua, New Hampshire: “Find out what publicity is working and what’s not by adding a question in your online registration forms, how did you hear about this program?”

And a few more from yours truly: Make an effort to talk to staff. Ask the librarians about their jobs. Learn about the problems they deal with. Talk to customers! Strive to be a little uncomfortable in your work.  Push yourself a little. Make time to rest and be creative.

Subscribe to this blog and you’ll receive an email every time I post. To do that, click on “Follow” button on the bottom left-hand corner of the page. Connect with me on Twitter and Snapchat–it’s where I talk about library marketing! I’m @Webmastergirl. I’m also on LinkedInInstagram and Pinterest. Views in this post are my own and do not represent those of my employer.

Five More Amazing Websites With Free Stock Photos For Your Library

More than I year ago I made a list of the top seven websites I use to find free marketing photos for my library. At the time, finding free photos with open copyright use was tricky. But in the span of a year, I’ve found a bunch of new websites with free stock photos! It’s now so easy to get stocks photo that I’ve actually considered canceling our library’s paid subscription stock photos service. Many libraries do not have the budget for a stock photo subscription. They rely on sites like these to help create promotional material that looks professional and modern.

It’s very important to point out that you can’t use any old photo you find on the internet. Just because a picture is on the web does not mean it’s public. That’s where Public Domain and Creative Commons licensing comes into play.

Public Domain: The person who associated a work with this deed has dedicated the work to the public domain by waiving all his or her rights to the work worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law. You can copy, change, distribute and perform the work, even for commercial purposes, all without asking permission.

Creative Commons: Gives those who want to give up those [copyright laws] a way to do so, to the fullest extent allowed by law. Anyone can then use the work in any way and for any purpose, including commercial purposes, subject to other laws and the rights others may have in the work or how the work is used.

You must use images in the Public Domain or covered by Creative Commons to avoid legal implications. All the sites in this post fall into one or both of those categories. And I’ve personally used every site I recommend so you can be assured that I’m familiar with their licensing regulations and their selection.

Here is my original list of the seven best sites for free stock photos. And here are my new additions!

Gratisography: My new favorite site! It’s diverse, interesting, and contains a lot of creative shots that are bright and eye-catching, even whimsical. It’s divided into easy to understand search categories. Their regular search engine is precise… no scrolling through a hundred photos that don’t pertain to your search term. The selection is a bit smaller than some other sites but the photos are amazing.

Burst: After my first post, the creator of this site emailed me with a link. I am impressed with their selection. Their photos are particularly appealing to the millennials on my staff! The photos are all covered under the Creative Commons license and can be used for all kinds of promotional purposes.

Negative Space: Another site under creative commons with full use of photos for commercial purposes. Their photos are artsy and fun. I particularly love their Flatlay collection!

Creative Commons: This site is dedicated to sharing photos under the Creative Commons license and contains the most diverse selection of shots I’ve seen on a free photo site to date. I go here when I’m looking for something original and authentic. Their shots of office workers never look staged!

Vecteezy: While not exactly a photo site, this website contains a lot of vector and graphic art, which can be helpful if you’re responsible for creating graphics for your library marketing. There are premium pieces for purchase, but their selection of free art is great. Use this site to complement the free layouts and art you’ll find on Canva. I like the modern feel of the work on this site.

Subscribe to this blog and you’ll receive an email every time I post. To do that, click on “Follow” button on the bottom left-hand corner of the page. Connect with me on Twitter and Snapchat–it’s where I talk about library marketing! I’m @Webmastergirl. I’m also on LinkedInInstagram and Pinterest. Views in this post are my own and do not represent those of my employer.

Introducing the Nine Blogs That Will Make You a Better Library Marketer

(Read time: 2 minutes, 28 seconds)

I am a fan of blogs. God bless the internet, it’s the best way to keep up to date on everything–food, fashion, the news, and the changes in library marketing. And, as much as I am also a fan of books of all kinds, I am not a fan of marketing books! The landscape of this profession changes fast. Unless it’s a philosophical take on marketing, most marketing books feel out of date within a year or two of publication.

Instead, I get my advice from blogs. So I’ve listed the nine blogs I recommend you read to stay on abreast of all the news in marketing. For the best use of your time, sign up for the email newsletters offered by these sites. Most will let you choose which topics you like to hear about and will send you content at the frequency that’s best for you. Set aside time on your calendar every day to read the content shared by these blogs. It’ll be time well spent. I’ve listed them in alphabetical order.

The Content Strategist

This blog features interesting articles broken into categories like storytelling, strategy, and ROI. They also post inspirational articles, which I love to save and read on days when I feel like my work is not having the impact it could or should.

Content Marketing Institute

At first glance, you might be intimidated. This blog is aimed at C-Suite or executive level marketers. But it’s good to read this advice even when you’re a little guy! There are always pieces of their strategy and bits of advice you can pick up and mold to work for your library. And the writers of this blog always seem to see the trends in consumer and business marketing before any other experts. Also, when you sign up for this newsletter you’ll get notifications about CMI’s free webinars. They have the most helpful webinars of any company in the marketing space.


I found this blog after using their online tool for writing better headlines. It’s among my favorites. Coschedule creates a lot of useful templates and writes easy-to-read, concise instructions on how to use them and how to improve your marketing.

The Daily Carnage

I read this one for laughs, good advice, and a lesson on how to write with humor and still be taken seriously.


Hubspot also gives away a lot of free templates and online courses that have tremendous value. Their blog posts cover a range of topics and are fun and insightful.

Mashable Marketing

One of my favorites by far. Their content is easy to read and interesting. They cover topics from social media to graphic elements to equipment to how pop culture affects marketing. It’s also written very, very well. This website is daily appointment reading for me!

PR Daily

If you sign up or bookmark just one blog from this post, this should be it. It’s essential for library marketing. This blog contains everything you need to know about public relations and the media. You have my permission to stop reading and subscribe to this one now. Then come back. Please.

Social Media Examiner

When I interview candidates for a social media position, I asked them where they get their news about social media. If they name this blog, they get a big A+ from me. Read it AND listen to Michael Stelzner’s podcast to get the best advice on social media from the industry’s best minds.

Spin Sucks

This blog offers a lot of helpful PR advice with a mix of fun posts designed to stretch your creative brain and general marketing advice. I really look forward to their daily email newsletter. I always learn something!

What is your favorite marketing blog? Please share the name in the comments so I can read it too!

Subscribe to this blog and you’ll receive an email every time I post. To do that, click on “Follow” button on the bottom left-hand corner of the page. Connect with me on Twitter and Snapchat–it’s where I talk about library marketing! I’m @Webmastergirl. I’m also on LinkedInInstagram and Pinterest. Views in this post are my own and do not represent those of my employer.


Best Conferences For Library Marketers in 2018

(Read time: 3 minutes, 50 seconds)

School is almost out and summer reading is underway. I hope your workload is lighter during this time of year! It’s now time to start thinking about your personal and professional growth. And it’s time for my annual list of the best conferences for library marketers!

A good conference experience can be a life changer. It can energize you, give you new ideas, and make you fall in love with your chosen career again. If you have money in your budget to attend a conference, I recommend you chose one of the following selections. I’ve picked them based value for the cost, relevance of the topic, and reputation of the lead organizers.



June 20-23 in Anaheim, CA

My husband works for a non-profit hospital as a videographer and he attends this conference. He learns about social media, video, and other marketing tactics from some of the top content creators in the marketing industry. If you are want to bring young people into your library or connect with them (I’m talking to you, university and school librarians!) then this conference is for you. And tickets are pretty cheap–the creator pass is $200 through June 8.

American Library Association

June 21-26 in New Orleans, LA

ALA continues to improve the marketing track at their premier conference. Topics this year include branding, marketing to teenagers, serving the immigrant population, creating a marketing plan and strategy, best practices for video marketing, and much more. This year’s keynote speakers include Viola Davis and Doris Kearns Goodwin. I also have it on high authority that Emilio Estevez will appear at the conference to hold screenings of his new movie, the public, shot in my very own library–which means that attendees will get to see it before I do! ALA members pay $350 and non-members pay $460 through June 15.

Nonprofit Marketing Conference

July 16-18 in Washington, DC

With sessions from the leaders of Google Ad Grants and Caring Bridge, this conference is informative and inspiring. It’s run the American Marketing Association. It will teach you how to use your small budget and limited resources to create a brand strategy. You’ll also learn how to improve your social media game and show the true value of your library in your marketing. After the conference, you’ll get an eBook with key takeaways to refer to the rest of the year. Registration is $949 but if you register before June 18, you save $100.

Social Media All Day Conference

July 19-20 in Charleston, South Carolina

Forbes calls this “the most collaborative social media conference.” The speaker list includes experts from food, fashion, journalism, and tech. Sessions promise to teach you how to engage audiences and create lasting connections with people. You’ll also learn how to build your brand on social, both for your library and for yourself! I recommend getting the Industry Badge, which is still a steal at $300. That gets you access to all the conference areas as well workshops and networking sessions.

Content Marketing World and Expo

September 4-7 in Cleveland, Ohio

Regular readers know how much I love this conference. I’ll be attending for the fifth time this year. CMWorld is a jam-packed series of events for marketers of all levels and interests. I come home with pages of notes and new ideas. This conference focuses on the art of storytelling and how to use content to build trust with your customers. But they also have sessions on video marketing, social media, strategy, and public speaking. You’ll learn a full range of new skills. Tina Fey is the keynote speaker this year, as are Andrew and Pete, my favorite marketing video creators from the UK. Early bird registration ends May 31 but if you email the conference, they can give you a 40 percent non-profit discount, which makes the ticket around $800. I know that’s a lot of money for libraries but it is so worth it.

Nonprofit Storytelling Conference

Oct. 16-17 in Orlando, FL

This conference is jam-packed with sessions that will help you turn your library’s story into a marketing strategy. You’ll learn how to write a compelling headline for your email newsletter and how to use Facebook live to raising the profile of your library. All the sessions are recorded, so if you can’t actually travel to Florida you can still “attend” the conference via video. Registration ranges in price from $995 to $1595 depending on which option you choose (video or no video) but if you register before July 13, you save $400, which puts it into the affordable range for many libraries.

Library Marketing and Communications Conference

November 14-15 in St. Louis, Missouri

The premier conference for library marketing moves to a new location this year and the organizers are energized! This is the fourth year for this conference specifically created to talk about marketing in the library space and the range of topics now includes all areas of the field, including fundraising, governmental advocacy, graphic design, workflow, and so much more. Plus networking with other library marketing professionals is invaluable! Registration begins this month (May). If you register before Friday, July 13, you’ll only pay $375. The full conference rate will be $450. They’re also taking calls for proposals through May 25. Sign up for the newsletter on the conference website to stay up to date with all the details.

Subscribe to this blog and you’ll receive an email every time I post. To do that, click on “Follow” button on the bottom left-hand corner of the page. Connect with me on Twitter and Snapchat–it’s where I talk about library marketing! I’m @Webmastergirl. I’m also on LinkedInInstagram and Pinterest. Views in this post are my own and do not represent those of my employer.

Reporters Reveal How To Get More Press Coverage

(Read time: 3 minutes, 6 seconds)

I have a confession to make. I don’t know everything.

I thought that I did! I spent 20 years in a TV newsroom. I thought I knew about how the media covers everything, including libraries. And I did when I started my library job five years ago. But things have changed. Now, I need advice as much as the next guy.

That’s what I learned after sending two of my staffers to a media day held in Cincinnati last October. The event was sponsored by the Public Relations Society of America. It included panels on topics including how to think like a journalist, and how to manage crisis communication. My staff members came back with a host of tips. And making those changes worked! Since October, coverage of our events and services by the media rose by more than 50 percent. No kidding. We’re getting more responses and more inquiries.

Put these tips into practice in your own library, along with last week’s free tools to help you do PR better. I bet you’ll see better results too!


Send out news releases WAY early. The reporters and producers told us they like a lot of advance notice, even for small library events. We had been sending releases two to three weeks before an event. I moved that back to four to six weeks before an event. We send a reminder to the media again about a week before the event. This turned out to be the most valuable tip of all. We’ve seen a sizeable increase in the number of responses we get, both when the release goes out and coming up on the day of the event.

Be ready for a response. The reporters told us that we should always assume they’ll respond to our press releases and media alerts! That means having our potential interview sources ready when we send out the release. This was a struggle for me because a different library department books our big author appearances. And I’ve always had to go through that department to arrange media interviews with the authors. But, armed with this request from the media, I went to that department head and made a case. I told them we’d get more coverage if they would be willing to give me direct contact information for the publicist so I could book interviews. They agreed and now I’m able to help the media when they call for an interview.

Write your release as if it were a news story. In fact, write a news story INSTEAD of a release. Include information about whether you’ll be able to take photos of the event and send them out to the media when it’s over. Newsrooms are short-staffed. They want us to do the work for them. And while that might not sound fair, if we send them a publishable piece of content with photos, we win on two levels. First, we get coverage of our event. Second, the narrative is exactly as we want it! We can do the fact-checking and make the important points. We have control!

Find good interview subjects. Arrange interviews ahead of time with people affected by the news item, not with the administration. Reporters don’t like official sounding, jargon-filled soundbites. That’s not compelling. Compelling is a child who finally catches up in reading because of extra tutoring from a children’s librarian. Compelling is an immigrant who got help at his library filling out a naturalization form. Compelling is not your library manager explaining how great the library is because they’re now offering a service. Ditch the official. Find the people, and put them in front of the camera.

Think like a reporter. Reporters asked us to arrange diverse interviews, including people from all different backgrounds and walks of life. They told us their target audience is women, ages 25-54, and that our interview subjects should be compelling to that age group. Pick interview subjects who are comfortable on camera or at least can talk in soundbites. Arrange interviews to meet the time demands of the newsroom. Newsrooms often have crews available are erratic times. If you’re sending a news release and hoping for an interview, make sure you have someone with a flexible schedule who can meet a reporter on short notice.

Subscribe to this blog and you’ll receive an email every time I post. To do that, click on “Follow” button on the bottom left-hand corner of the page. Connect with me on Twitter and Snapchat–it’s where I talk about library marketing! I’m @Webmastergirl. I’m also on LinkedInInstagram and Pinterest. Views in this post are my own and do not represent those of my employer.

Free Tools To Help You Do PR Better

(Read time: 3 minutes, 7 seconds)

Confession: when I was working as a TV journalist, I thought public relations was soooooo easy. I imagined a typical PR person spent their day sitting at a desk, cranking out press releases, one after the other. I thought it would be the world’s most boring job. And then I took a job in library marketing and PR. And found out how very wrong I was.

Good public relations work for the library is critical. We must promote all the good our library services and circulation, as well as our contribution to the community. We must counteract stories that cast our institution in a negative public light. We need the public’s support to pass levies and other funding measures. And we’re fighting negative press on issues we can’t control, like crimes committed near our library and opioid use in our public spaces.

Most of the public relations and media work we do in the library is positive and fun. It’s not easy, though. We work without paid distribution software and adequate staff. But there are lots of free tools to amplify your message and get increased media awareness and public brand love for your library. Here is a list of my favorites! (A reminder, I only endorse tools I’ve worked with on this blog. If you are a company with a tool to suggest to readers not listed in my piece, you are welcome to do so in the comments.)

Hemingway App: I first learned about this tool from Ann Handley of Marketing Profs. Simply put, it improves your writing. It actually counts the number adverbs in your copy and forces you to keep them at five or fewer. It also catches passive voice, convoluted sentences, and complex wording. Your copy will be clear and bold. That increases the chances that a reporter or media outlet will pick up your press release or blog entry. It even gives you a grade on your finished product! And it’s free. I write EVERYTHING in Hemingway, including these blog posts. (Bonus: it also counts words, sentences, and gives you a “read” time, which can increase engagement. I’m adding the read time to my blog posts now. Did you catch it?)

CoSchedule Headline Analyzer: I run every headline I write through this free tool. It trains you to write clear, catchy headlines with powerful, uncommon, and emotional words. It also shows you how your headline will look in a Google search and in an email on a desktop or mobile device.

HARO (Help a Reporter Out)This amazing online tool connects journalists with sources (like your expert librarians!) Join the site for free as a source and then journalists will email you with requests for help with stories. There is no better way to get discovered by national media outlets. National requests don’t come often, but when they do they’re amazing. Last summer, a reporter from the New York Times featured our summer lunch program after finding us here.

PR Hunters: This very simple site will email you leads from journalists posted on Twitter. Sign up is free. You can customize keywords like the library, reading, poverty, eBooks, etc., to your profile. Then you’ll get emails when a journalist Tweets a request for information on those subjects. I don’t get a ton of emails from this site, so don’t worry about your inbox exploding with requests. I find it helpful because, honestly, who can be on Twitter all the time watching for PR opportunities. Bonus tip: when you are on Twitter, search the hashtag #journorequests for direct requests from the media. Use it when you want to pitch a specific story.

Google Alerts:  Set up a free account and get email alerts when the keywords you’ve attached to your account are used in any online source like a TV or radio website, the online edition of a newspaper or magazine, or in a blog. I also set up alerts for my competitors too so I can keep track of what kind of press they’re getting.

Next week: I’ll share the secrets my staff learned during a one-day conference with local reporters and writers. Find out what the media really wants from you and what you can do to make sure your stories get coverage!

Bonus: Free press release templates!

Hubspot template and tips

Subscribe to this blog and you’ll receive an email every time I post. To do that, click on “Follow” button on the bottom left-hand corner of the page. Connect with me on Twitter and Snapchat–it’s where I talk about library marketing! I’m @Webmastergirl. I’m also on LinkedInInstagram and Pinterest. Views in this post are my own and do not represent those of my employer.


Shrewd Marketers Challenge Conventions. So Should We!

I’ve thought a lot lately about how to approach library marketing in a new and fresh way. As my library creates and executes our strategy for summer reading, I am looking at each tactic and wondering if we can improve the marketing of this legendary initiative. According to the American Library Association, summer reading programs began in the 1890s as a way to encourage school children, particularly those in urban areas and not needed for farm work, to read during their summer vacation, use the library, and develop the habit of reading. That’s a long time to be marketing a program and I think the industry might be a bit stuck in terms of how we do it.

For inspiration, I’ve looked over notes from a session I attended at Content Marketing World. It was led by Doug Kessler, co-founder and creative director of Velocity Partners, a B2B marketing agency with offices in the U.S. and England. Doug’s session was inspiring. It was titled Exceptional Content–Challenging the Invisible Conventions of Marketing. I printed out my notes and have read them through each morning, then thinking about the points he made every time I need a brain break.

Kessler focused his session on a concept he calls invisible conventions. We have so many invisible conventions in libraries. These are the ideas and practices that library staffers hold as traditional and unchangeable. If you hear someone say, “But we’ve always done it that way”, you know you’re talking about their invisible conventions. Invisible conventions are powerful.  Kessler says they guide and constrain us without us even knowing it.

We do need conventions.  But we don’t need to be slaves to convention. Kessler says it’s our job as marketers to expose the hidden conventions in our institution and play with them. Libraries can’t be precious about their conventions because your cardholders aren’t.  Conventions are a signal to your cardholders that marketing is involved–even if you’re trying to be sneaky about it. Your customers are smart, and they’ll put up their defense barriers.

Think about how you respond to marketing messages for invisible conventions. We’ve all developed a sense of when the pitch is coming and we run the other way! You don’t want to turn off your cardholders–you want to inspire them. But if you hang on to your invisible conventions for safety, you’ll never move forward in the marketing of your library.

Challenging your invisible conventions isn’t going to make you very popular, Kessler warns. And that’s okay. Your administration, leaders of other departments, even fellow librarians may have a strong reaction when you decide to challenge conventions. They are more comfortable with traditional marketing practices and they want you to create pieces that make them feel comfortable. Be strong. Take the long view. Persuade your co-workers that change is necessary and that safe marketing isn’t going to cut it with your cardholders. Your job is not to make everyone else in the library happy. Your job isn’t to make friends with everyone in you work with. Your job is to serve your cardholders, and you can only do that when you put your cardholders first. If that means you need to throw convention out the window, then it’s the best move. Don’t second guess yourself. When your instincts as a marketer tell you that something needs to change, you are right. Change it.

I’m reminded of advice I heard from another Content Marketing World speaker, Amanda Todorovich of the Cleveland Clinic. She confessed she’s made some people at the hospital unhappy with her relentless focus on the customer. She has a strategy and she often says “no” to people who want her to do conventional marketing. That means there are some folks she works with who don’t like her. Amanda is okay with that because she realizes her job is to serve the patients, not her co-workers. I draw inspiration from her attitude when I’m faced with having a difficult conversation with a co-worker. You can too! (Read my post about Amanda here.)

So how do you turn conventional marketing on its head? By doing more content marketing. Kessler says, thanks to the companies who came before us, the public knows marketing messages are often filled with compulsive and shameless lies (thanks, cigarette companies). Traditional marketing is all about the brand: a one-sided sales message.  Content marketing, by contrast, is all about the audience. Content marketing rewards libraries for telling the truth. It’s focused on utility–how can we best help our cardholders. It delivers value, builds trust, and it gives our cardholders the power!

Kessler left me with a final thought: unconventional marketing can lead to great stories. Be straight, simple, conversational, and relevant. You will change hearts and minds.

Subscribe to this blog and you’ll receive an email every time I post. To do that, click on “Follow” button on the bottom left-hand corner of the page. Connect with me on Twitter and Snapchat–it’s where I talk about library marketing! I’m @Webmastergirl. I’m also on LinkedInInstagram and Pinterest. Views in this post are my own and do not represent those of my employer.

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