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Super Library Marketing! Great marketing ideas for libraries everywhere.

Best Conferences for Library Marketers in 2017

Confession: I am a conference geek. Having moved from a profession (journalism) where conferences are considered a waste of time and money to a profession (library marketing) where training and personal growth are core job competencies, I am a huge fan of the conference.

A good conference can be a great opportunity to network with other marketers, both in libraries and in companies. You can learn from each other, commiserate, complain, laugh, and share ideas. The best conferences have a varied agenda, so you have a chance to learn about trends in marketing and changes in other jobs within the library system and the world at large. You’ll come away inspired, energized, and ready to take on the world.

I’ve done a lot of research for the 2017 edition of the Best Conferences for Library Marketers. I looked for conferences featuring speakers I am familiar with, run by organizations I trust, with an agenda of topics that I think will be of interest to my readers, and at a price that’s not prohibitive. Most of these conferences will offer you a discount if you contact them and ask… they all love libraries and they love the idea of library marketers mingling with brands. Just be sure to email early! Dates are based on main conference attendances only. Some conferences have labs or special classes before or after the main conference, which I left out because they add to the price of the ticket.

This list is all based in the U.S. again. I apologize to my international readers but I can’t confidently recommend conferences abroad. Please give me your recommendations for non-U.S. conferences in the comments, won’t you?

Confab Central

June 8-9 in Minneapolis, MN

This two-day conference in June covers a lot of topics that apply to library marketing, including measurement, working in silos(!!), and coaching your staff. Also, actor and literacy advocate Levar Burton is a keynote speaker!! A conference pass is $1400 without a discount.

Marketing track at The American Library Association Conference

June 24-25 in Chicago, IL

So we all love attending the American Library Conference. All the librarians! All the swag! All the free books! Their marketing track is pretty extensive and touches on a range of topics like planning library promotional videos, effectively marketing system-wide programs, and crisis communication. Registration fees for ALA members run from $175-$300 and registration for non-ALA members is $400 if you register by June 16.

Digipalooza

August 2-4 in Cleveland, OH

I have a colleague who regularly attends this conference put together by Overdrive and she always comes back with great insight into the digital platform used by many libraries. This year, the conference includes ideas on promoting books on social media, using their reports to gain insights about your users, and a first look at their product road map. Plus there is a marketing exchange! Tickets are affordable at $200.

Content Marketing World

September 6-8 in Cleveland, OH

2017 will mark the fourth year that I’ve attended CM World and I couldn’t recommend it more. It’s huge, with dozens of top-notch speakers and tracks on every subject you can think of. New this year, there are breakout sessions on Friday included in the price of a main pass so you get even more bang for your buck. If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know how much I learn at this conference. I swear I mention it in a half of my posts. They usually have an exciting keynote speaker. The 2017 headliner hasn’t been announced yet but last year we heard from Mark Hammill and the year before that was Kevin Spacey. A main conference pass is $1100 until June 2, and they will give you the non-profit discount if you ask, which amounts to about 40 percent off the price.

Inbound

September 25-28 in Boston, MA

Authors Elizabeth Gilbert and Adam Grant are the headliners at the 2017 Inbound, put together by Hubspot (I love their free online marketing courses.) This event is enormous… they had 19,000 attendees in 2016.There are 250 sessions and literally every marketing thought-leader attends and leads at least one session. Hubspot believes in the mapped customer journey, a concept that some of the most forward-thinking libraries are embracing. I always find it helpful to hear how business marketers are working. An all-access pass is about $1100 until mid-May, but be sure to ask for a discount.

Internet Summit

November 15-16 in Raleigh, NC

A huge lineup of marketing experts headlines this conference (if you go, be sure to see Ann Handley, Rand Fishkin, and Neil Patel.) This conference hits all the topics that affect library marketers, including email marketing, design, and user experience. The best part is that an all-access pass is only about $345 if you book now.

Library Marketing and Communications Conference

November 16-17 in Addison, TX

This conference targeted specifically to library marketers is now in its third year and addresses many of the challenges you face in your daily work within the context of a library. I have not attended, but my supervisor has and says it covers a range of topics including social media and PR. If you’re new to the library or marketing world, this is the place to be. Plus there is plenty of time to network with other library marketers who share your unique job! Registration is not yet open for this event, but you can sign up for updates and you’ll be the first to know when tickets are available.

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 LinkedIn, Slideshare, Instagram and Pinterest. Views in this post are my own and do not represent those of my employer.

 

Warning: Your Library is NOT Ready For Virtual Reality Marketing!

Everywhere I look these days, people are talking about virtual reality and augmented reality marketing. It’s the shiny new toy in the marketing world and people get super excited when they talk about it. It’s cool and hip and, unlike a lot of marketing tactics, it sounds like great fun. Who wouldn’t want to be the first to reap the benefits of this technology as a marketing tool?

VR marketing came up this week in a meeting of non-marketing library professionals in my system. It’s been the subject of nearly a quarter of the tweets I see in my marketing list on Tweetdeck. And I read more than one article a day on the subject without even searching for it. It’s literally the talk of the town.

But I think we all need to take a step back and contain ourselves. VR and AR would be awesome but I’m going to burst your bubble. Your library is not ready to do VR or AR marketing. No library is ready. In fact, I want you to join me on the sidelines and watch for a bit as our for-profit brethren take this shiny new car for a spin a few times. Because that’s the best way to learn something about a new technology without having to put ourselves at risk.

I want to make sure we’re clear about what VR and AR really is. There is a lot of confusion and it can be hard to envision. Virtual Reality (VR) is the use of computer technology to create a simulated environment, one where the user is immersed and able to interact with 3D worlds. Augmented reality (AR) is a live direct or indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented (or supplemented) by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics, or GPS data. VR and AR marketing is NOT a live event or scavenger hunt. It specifically involves the use of technology on both the customer and brand side.

Now, I’m sure your head is spinning with many thoughts about how to put this to use in a library marketing application. What if customers could go into a virtual library, browse shelves and items and borrow materials using a computer program without ever having to leave their home? What if we could show our customers how to use services without having to bring them into a branch? What if people could attend our programs in an immersive experience from the comfort of their own homes? A whole world of possibilities and challenges opens up before you like a vast, unexplored universe of library marketing potential.

Here’s the thing. Very few profit-driven companies are ready to implement VR and AR marketing successfully. Some of the big brands you know and love–Coca-Cola, GM, Kraft, Red Bull–companies that are on the forefront of other marketing practices like content marketing, have not yet jumped onto the VR and AR band wagons yet. Why?

It’s expensive. Software and hardware on the customer’s side can run into the thousands of dollars. How many library customers can afford that kind of dough? Development of the VR programs on the brand side run anywhere between $30,000 and $100,000. That’s a lot of money for libraries facing budget cuts.

It’s an uncertainty. No one, not even the greatest thought-leaders in the marketing world, knows yet how to tie it to strategy and how to correctly distribute VR products yet. No one really knows when consumers will be willing to purchase the technology or how long it will take them to adapt to using it.

If the big guns haven’t been able to get their strategy and budget around VR and AR yet, then neither can we. But that’s okay. Let’s take this opportunity to learn more about the practice. I’ve created a little online starter guide for you!

Here is a slideshow explaining how VR and AR marketing work and showing you some of the technology pieces now available.

Here is a great article from Forbes about the six best examples of VR marketing to date.

Here is an interesting take from Content Marketing Institute on how VR could change the marketing landscape.

And I particularly loved this article about the pitfalls of VR marketing as experienced by three well-known brands.

Libraries are notoriously behind the curve for embracing marketing trends. In this case, I think the Library industry is eager, but we lack the budget and the ability. And I feel that in the end, that lag may end up working to our advantage. We have a chance to watch the big guns try, fail, and succeed, and we can learn from their experience. So take this time to study and learn. And let’s meet again in 5-10 years when the library industry will be ready to embrace VR and AR. We’ll do it right.

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 LinkedIn, Slideshare, Instagram and Pinterest. Views in this post are my own and do not represent those of my employer.

Why Did People Go Crazy Over This Social Media Post?

Sometimes, luck shines on the hardworking marketer and all the stars align to hand you an unexpected victory.

This happened to my library recently.  One of our branches held a stuffed animal sleepover. I’m guessing someone in your library system has done this before–it’s a pretty popular program.  Kids drop off their stuffed animals at the library branch for an overnight stay and branch staff stage activities for the stuffed animals and take photos so the kid can see their little friends having fun at the library. This particular branch passed all the photos on to our Marketing Department and we put them up in a Flickr album for easy distribution. We posted a link to that album on our Facebook page.

And then the public went nuts. We had a ton of engagement, turning this into one of the most successful social media posts of the year so far, with more than 17,000 in organic reach, more than 1,000 post clicks and 431 likes and shares!

I asked out library’s social media specialist, Adam Baker, to help me dissect the post in hopes that we all can learn something from it.

Tell me about why you decided to go with the format you used–Flickr album link on Facebook? Did you put it on other social media sites?

I’ve found, in general, Flickr links work well for a large amount of photos. Uploading the photos and creating a Flickr album allows me to generate a link I can share across all social platforms. Plus, a Flickr link has built-in metadata that produces an attractive preview on the page. That automatic preview gives the user an experience native to the platform it’s shared on. Users can easily click directly into the Flickr slide show from the preview. It’s just a nice way to keep photos organized, and the fact it’s so user-friendly on the sharing side, makes it a double win.

What kind of response did you predict you would get?

This stuffed animal sleepover event is an annual event at one of our branches. I’ve shared the photos via social media for three years in a row now. They’ve always been relatively successful because it’s something different and interesting. But I never expected the response we got from the Facebook post this year.

Why do you think the post was so popular with our followers?

I come from a TV news background. I remember in journalism school our professors teaching us what makes something newsworthy. I use many of those factors when picking good social media content. One of the reasons something is newsworthy is if it is a novelty. The stuffed animal sleepover definitely falls into that category. It’s original, even a bit unusual. I think that’s the reason these photos always perform well. I think the reason it was such a hit for us this year was due to the fact we had an extra unusual photo featured as the album cover. The stuffed animals are sitting around in a circle. One Facebook fan commented it looked like they were conducting a séance. The user meant it in jest — but it goes to show you it made people do a double take. Anytime you have content that makes people stop mindlessly scrolling through all the noise online and actually click, you’ve got a winner.

How surprised were you at the response?

I was very surprised it did so well. It was our most successful post that month and one of our best posts ever. I am pleasantly surprised that a post we’ve done very similarly for three years paid off in a big way this time around.

Did the response lead you to think about changing the way you format or program future social media posts?

I think it reinforced what I already knew. You have to be a little outside the box to get noticed. It’s a good reminder to experiment and have fun. You never know when that one silly post is going to be a game changer.

The lesson here? You never know what kind of social media post is going to resonate with your audience!

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 LinkedIn, Slideshare, Instagram and Pinterest. Views in this post are my own and do not represent those of my employer.

How to Know When To Say No To More Library Marketing

I have a problem saying “no”.

It’s a common problem for anyone working in a library. Or in marketing. Or in life, if we’re being honest. We are all weirdly programmed to say yes, to take on more, to squeeze as much out of life as we possibly can. Yes, I can bake 100 cookies for my kid’s holiday party tomorrow! Yes, I can write a 1500 word blog in a day! Yes, I can promote that service or event or circulation item in every single channel in every single conceivable way RIGHT NOW.

Stop the madness, ya’ll.

The word “no”, while it may be very small, is liberating.  It’s good for you and for your marketing strategy.

FULL DISCLOSURE: I’m writing this particular blog post because I came to the realization this week that my marketing schedule is TOO DAMN FULL. We have two press releases and five-six eblasts scheduled per week for the next three months… not to mention graphics on the website, digital screen graphics, social media posts, videos, and so forth. It’s a rare day when my library doesn’t do a big promotion.

Wow, you may be saying to yourself. That’s awesome! You’re rockin’ it, Angela. Well, thank you. Sometimes I think so too. But it’s also tiring. And noisy. And a sure recipe for burnout for you and your staff.

Busyness feels wonderful. We’re doing something! Stuff is happening! Progress is being made! But without spaces for creative thought, it’s a recipe for disaster. Mistakes are going to happen. My writing isn’t what it could or should be. My head is so muddled with all the messages, it’s a wonder I’ll be able to say anything coherent or engaging to my cardholders.

And that’s where we are. We are all burned out… leading into the busiest time of the year: summer reading. And it has to stop. We are going to do a horrible job at promoting summer reading unless I weed out all the noise.

So that’s going to be my job over the next week. I’ve got four rules for weeding the promotions.

If it’s not giving us more than a ten percent bump in circulation, program attendance, or usage, it gets cut.

If we’re promoting a service that is difficult for the cardholder to use, it gets cut.

If the presenter isn’t paid, it gets cut.

If it’s not tied directly to the library’s overall strategy, it gets cut.

Weeding your marketing content periodically to cut anything that falls into these four categories will allow you to do a better job and be more creative with the promotions you have left.  Do this evaluation twice a year to make sure you keep your marketing lean and don’t tax your staff or yourself.

Cleaning out your marketing schedule is kind of like cleaning a closet. We tend to just keep stuffing things in there, in the hopes that it will work for us someday. But eventually, the closet is so packed you can’t fit anything else in there and every time you open the door, everything falls out. You need to cart some stuff off to the dumpster.

Set your own ground rules if you like but weed your promotions before you head into summer reading. It will make you a better marketer by giving you more time to devote the promotions that are left–the ones that really matter.

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 LinkedIn, Slideshare, Instagram and Pinterest. Views in this post are my own and do not represent those of my employer.

 

Four Ways to Fire Up Your Social Media And Create Super Library Fans!

I see a new trend on social media for libraries and I’m loving it! More libraries are reducing the number of Tweets they send promoting programs and they’re doing more curating and advocating for the library industry. I think that’s great! It adds depth to the character of your library, it helps your cardholders to see that you are more than just an endless horn of promotion, bombarding them with things that don’t relate to them, and it means the promotions you do put on social media get more attention simply because there is less noise. So good job you!

Now it’s time to take the next step. My prediction: libraries will become savvier about using social media to turn their current cardholders into fans. The industry will begin to realize the importance of keeping cardholders active library users and balance that newfound realization with the ongoing campaign to sign up new cardholders. We’ll start creating super customers who will advocate on our behalf. Doesn’t that sound amazing? Here’s how we’ll do it.

Listen to your cardholders. Whoever monitors your social media needs to set aside time to listen to monitor your social media platforms for comments. Respond as soon as you can, even to positive comments. You should also create a database for logging comments, both positive and negative, so you don’t have to rely on your own memory to keep track of the complaints and compliments you receive. You can use that database to create future promotions, highlighting services your cardholders show a love for and addressing concerns with upper management and within your marketing. You’ll also stumble across great customer service stories that you can market in your print publication or on your blog. Listening is critical and I cannot stress the importance of working time into your day, every hour if you can, to do a quick check of your social channels for comments.

Show some extra love to your current cheerleaders. You likely can think of two to three people (maybe more!)  who consistently post their praises of your library system on social media. If you haven’t already, reach out to those brand advocates and offer them something special–a gift bag from your Friends shop, a behind-the-scenes tour of the library, a special collector’s edition library card, etc. They’ll post about that positive exchange and do some marketing for you! Later, you can go back to those cheerleaders and ask for feedback on marketing or library initiatives, or give them a sneak peek of things you’re working on in the future to gauge the reaction of the larger audience to your efforts.

Create an editorial calendar for your social channels. Schedule content to appear on a consistent basis. Remember “Must-See TV”? You can do that with social. People love it… and they’ll eagerly await the appearance of quality content on social when you set up a reliably consistent posting schedule. Create a call to action that’s easy to fulfill and share.

Track, track, track. None of these actions are worth any effort if you don’t track the results. You’ll learn what works–so you can repeat it–and what doesn’t, so you can drop it!  You’ll be amazed at how valuable the data is when you track, and I promise it only takes a few moments. My favorite tracking method is Google Analytics URL builder. Learn how to use 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 and Snapchat–it’s where I talk about library marketing! I’m @Webmastergirl. I’m also on LinkedIn, Slideshare, Instagram and Pinterest. Views in this post are my own and do not represent those of my employer.

 

The Most Effective Library Marketing Tactic Ever: “I Understand”

I listened last week to White House officials explain a recent round of proposed budget cuts by President Trump. Soon after its release, I noticed a backlash on social media by people who believe the decisions in this budget proposal show a lack of empathy on the part of the administration. The message their budget proposal is sending to a group of angry and emotionally charged constituents is that they lack empathy. Maybe they are very empathetic… but they’re not marketing that emotion very well.

Watching the backlash made me worry about the way my library is viewed by the public. We are in the business of serving the under-served. Our industry is driven forward by empathy–by a desire to educate, inspire, and empower people. But, like the President’s staff, we don’t always do a very good job of marketing that emotion.

First, let’s define empathy because it’s often confused with sympathy. Empathy is when you can recognize another person’s emotions and share them. Sympathy doesn’t involve the sharing of emotions—it is simply recognizing what another person is feeling.

Empathy in marketing means you are able to communicate to your customers that you understand and share the emotions they feel. Showing your cardholders that you empathize with them will move them to action. It’s the most nebulous of marketing tactics but also the most effective. If you can get people to understand that you feel the way they feel, that your library is the key to turning their emotions into action, and that their action can lead to change in their community, you will have moved them toward whatever goal you’ve established for your library marketing. People are motivated to action by four main emotions: greed, fear, love, and the chance to grow. Communicating to your cardholders that your library is in tune with them… that you crave, fear, love, and desire the same things they do, will be the difference between meeting your marketing and strategic goals and staying stagnant. People will rally behind an organization that understands them and shares their goals.

I’ll give you an example of this from my library. We know that people in our community are worried about jobs. They want to improve their career prospects and they aren’t many programs in our area aimed at giving people the basic coaching they need to put together a resume, ace an interview, or even to sort through prospective jobs openings to find the right fit for their life and their family. So over the past six months, we’ve partnered with another organization to put on a series of free workshops aimed at improving the job prospects of members of our community. The emotion we’ve used to market that program is hope… a sense of hope for the betterment of our community and a sense of hope for those who thought their chances of getting a better paying, more fulfilling job was pretty hopeless. The workshops are filling up and we’re starting to get media coverage.

Empathy should be infused in every marketing piece we create. That’s because emotions rule consumer behavior… they are the “why” behind the actions we take. Empathy is at the heart of every good novel ever written. The author makes you care about what happens to the characters. Without that, you don’t really want to read the book! Let’s use the same concept in our library marketing.

The best way to market empathy is tell stories about how your library and your staff is impacting the lives of others. Don’t script it. Let the librarians and the customers share in their own words. Share those stories in your newsletters, on your blog, in your press releases, and in videos. Choose small segments of your population, think about the core ideals and values that drive their lives, and connect those ideals to the work of your library. Ask your interviewees questions about how they feel. And let their words inspire other cardholders to action.

For more ways to inspire your cardholders to feel all the feels, read this.

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 LinkedIn, Slideshare, Instagram and Pinterest. Views in this post are my own and do not represent those of my employer.

This is NOT What Your Library Marketing Should Focus On

I write a lot of posts filled with advice about what you should do to better market your library. Today, I’m writing one about what you shouldn’t do.

This stems from a frustration over a lot of bad advice I see from marketing experts. In some cases, they’re just making your average snake oil promise of big returns on investment doing one simple thing. Other times, it is aggressively touting techniques that are either too expensive for libraries or just don’t work in our industry.

So when you hear someone tell you to do these four things at your library, ignore them.

You need to go viral. Let me be really clear because this one is a pet peeve of mine. You DO NOT need to go viral. Going viral is a fluke, not a real goal. It’s kind of like winning the lottery. There is no secret to going viral. No one can ever predict when or if it will happen. In fact, when I hear others make promises that “doing this will make you go viral”, I just have to cringe.

Do this instead. Create engaging content that speaks to YOUR audience and forget the rest of the world. If, by chance, you ever do something that does go viral, enjoy it, bask in it, promote it for all it’s worth. Then go back to your normal life with your documented marketing strategy and content goals. You are not a global company. Going viral will bring you fame and brand recognition in markets outside of your service area, but that won’t increase your circulation or program attendance. And I’ve seen a lot of libraries do some cringe-worthy stuff in the name of fame. Don’t waste your energy.

Use growth hacks to increase your social media audience.  It doesn’t matter how many followers your library has on social media. It matters more WHO those followers are. You want people who are within your community and who are engaged with your brand–which means they like, comment, and share your posts.

Do this instead. Be deliberate in your social media. Post meaningful and relevant content. DO NOT BUY followers on any social media platform, ever. Spend your money boosting the posts that will connect with your cardholders and deepen their emotional connection to your library.

Posting on Facebook comes first. Many libraries have a huge following on Facebook and so they concentrate all of their efforts on that one platform. That’s the wrong approach. Facebook is rented land–you don’t own the platform and they have no allegiance to you. They can change their site however they want, anytime they want. Why do we keep rewarding a site that constantly changes its algorithm and makes it more difficult for libraries to hit their target audiences by spending so much time on posting content there?

Do this instead. Diversify your social media strategy. Pick one or two other platforms where you typically see engagement with followers. For most of us, this will be Twitter and Instagram. Create a strategy around those and increase the number and quality of posts you put there. Social media is a moving target and the popularity of social media sites waxes and wanes. Don’t go all in on one platform… that’s like putting all your money in one company in the stock market.

If you write it, they will come. Most of the time, we write a great piece of content and stick it out there in the world on our blog or in a newsletter and we hope or expect people to find it. And then we wonder why our posts get no traction. Writing the post is only half the battle.

Do this instead. Create a strategy for distribution when you fill out your editorial calendar. I do this in a spreadsheet. I decide how I’ll promote each piece of content and then schedule of promotion. It’s not complicated as long as you’re willing to invest time in planning. Marketing expert Andrew Davis advises a tiered strategy–which means that you publish content and then promote it one area at a time, overlapping your amplification efforts. So for instance, you write and publish a blog. You promote it on Facebook. A few days later, you promote it on Twitter. A few days later, you include a blurb and a link in your email newsletter… and so on. If you’re willing to invest a little time in the planning, the execution will run smoothly and you’ll get a longer shelf life, a wider audience, and more engagement from each piece of content.

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 LinkedIn, Slideshare, Instagram and Pinterest. Views in this post are my own and do not represent those of my employer.

 

Lessons From The Greatest Press Release Ever Written!

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When I left journalism for marketing, one of my big worries about switching careers centered on the dreaded press release. Organizations love writing and sending them. They’re usually glowing, self-congratulatory reports of amazing events, awards, and services. They make us feel productive, important, and authoritative.

But journalists hate them. They mock them. They look on most press releases as pretentious attempts at self-promotion by organizations with inflated egos. Most of the time, they file them in their assignment book and never look at them again. I know that’s probably not what you wanted to hear. I’m not trying to be mean. You deserve to know the truth because you work hard on those releases. It takes a lot of effort to write a release that makes all the invested parties happy and it takes forever to get them approved in the library bureaucracy. But they’re not an effective means of getting our message not–not in the current form, anyway.

I’m not saying we should ditch press releases. I’m pushing you to change the way you write your press release. Commit to writing in a way that will interest journalists and make them want to cover your library. Use storytelling techniques to turn our news into an irresistible story. That’s how we get more press coverage.

I found inspiration recently when I came across this amazing, astounding, awesome press release, sent out BY THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT no less. The year was 1921 and the U. S. Department of Agriculture had spent nearly a decade and thousands of dollars trying to hunt down a destructive wolf.

A little background is necessary. I first heard this press release read aloud while listening to This American Life with Ira Glass. According to Glass, when settlers arrived in the American west, they killed off the animals that wolves used to feed on– bison, elk, and deer. The wolves starting killing livestock for food. That angered the settlers, so ranchers and the federal government set out to exterminate the wolves. Between 1883 and 1930, more than 80,000 wolves were killed. The government wanted to tell everyone what a good job they were doing and so they put out press releases. Like this one.

Read The Great Wolf is Killed

An amazing piece of press work, it contains four major lessons for libraries looking to write a better press release. If you want to draw journalists in, make them want to cover your library, and get you more press, here’s what you need to do.

      1. Write a story, not a bureaucratic diatribe. Journalists are an audience that you need to engage. They don’t respond to rhetoric and library jargon any more than a general audience does. They want a story, with emotion, drama, good guys, bad guys, and a plot. Write your release as if you are writing the real story for the publication which you are targeting. We know many newspapers and magazines lift copy right from the release–why not make it something they’ll really want to print? They’ll want something with a catchy headline and a story they can tease to their viewers to get them to watch/click/share.
      2. Ditch the dry, fact-based language and be a journalist. Get real quotes from the real stakeholders… stop making up quotes full of inspirational language that no one will really ever say in real life.  Journalists can see right through that. Interview the stakeholders and use their real words in your release.
      3. There is no right length. The wolf release is four pages and 1500+ words long. And it’s perfect. Write the story. If you have 1500 words and they’re riveting, a newsroom will read and print all 1500 words! Focus on writing great, not writing short.
      4. Spend some time coming up with a great headline. “World’s Greatest Animal Criminal is Dead” is a show-stopper. I usually brainstorm headlines in a word document… I just write freely until I’m clean out of ideas. Then I pick my favorite three or four and run them through the same tests I use when creating an email subject line. Then I sit on it awhile and think about it. Do the same with your press release headlines. This isn’t a throwaway task. It’s the first thing a journalist will see… it could be the catalyst for the final decision they make about your story. Don’t waste it!

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 LinkedIn, Slideshare, Instagram and Pinterest. Views in this post are my own and do not represent those of my employer.

I Want To Go To There: How To Be a Better Marketer

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Many libraries hire librarians with very little marketing experience to do the marketing. If you’ve found yourself in this position, don’t panic. Anyone can learn to be a marketer. It’s not an easy profession, but if you are new to the job, you can get really good at the work if you commit to seeking and following the best advice and immerse yourself in the world of marketing professional development.

If you’re a trained marketer working for a library, you should always be looking for ways to grow your skills. We can really only hope to compete with our for-profit counterparts if we know what they know. Don’t ever stop learning.

Here are my seven favorite ways to learn new stuff about marketing.

Lynda.com: Your library may have a subscription, as mine does. What a fantastic resource! There are dozens of video tutorials on all topics related to marketing. They range in length from 45 minutes to three hours or more.  They’re all created by experts, easy to understand, and paced in a way that’s easy to digest. And Lynda.com is always adding new courses so you can learn new skills no matter how long you’ve been a marketer.

Hubspot: Hubspot has a whole range of marketing classes available for free online. There are even tests you can take at the end of each course to become certified a Hubspot marketer. When you’re certified, you have access to a nice widget for your email signature and LinkedIn page. It’s a great way to show your supervisor that you’re seriously committed to growing your knowledge base. And it’s a great way to let anyone you’re working with to know, subtly, that you know what you’re talking about!

Content Marketing Institute: CMI is one of my favorite places to learn new marketing skills. They have a ton of free webinars that can teach you everything you need to know about content marketing.  Their Chief Content Officer magazine is a must-read for marketers. And their blog is chock full of new insights, research, techniques, and tips that will expand your knowledge of the inner workings of marketing and make you a more-rounded marketer.

Read Everybody Writes by Ann Handley.  I think this should be required reading for all marketers. It is simply the best book on the subject of writing… easy to understand with lots of practical advice. It will make you want to write even if you dread the thought!

Watch Amy Schmittauer on YouTube. So at first glance, it seems that Amy is “just” an expert on video and video blogging. She’s so much more. If you subscribe to her YouTube channel, you’ll also be treated to regular posts about strategy, creativity, and finding your inner marketing voice. As marketers, we get so focused on churning out content that we forget the other essential pieces that require more thinking and less doing. Amy will remind you to pay attention to those pieces. Her posts mix practical video advice with inspiration, and that’s an important combination for anyone who works in the marketing space.

Follow Andrew and Pete on YouTube. For a dose of practical advice mixed with plain old fun, these two English marketers are just you need to grow your knowledge base and to remind you of why marketing is one of the most rewarding parts of library work. I also recommend you follow them on Twitter. They do a remarkable job of responding to Twitter mentions and comments and that personal interaction makes for the best kind of marketing!

Listen to the Social Media Marketing Podcast from Social Media Examiner.  Social media is a mostly free and effective way to reach library audiences and Michael Stelzner and crew do the best job of explaining big ideas and introducing new techniques for maximizing the time you put into social. I’ve met Michael in person and he honestly cares about his audience, which shows in the way he interviews his guests each week. And when Michael and his team try something that DOESN’T work, they share that too.  You will get a ton of value out of this show.

And… if you have never watched “30 Rock” and don’t understand the title of this blog, please watch this.

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 LinkedIn, Slideshare, Instagram and Pinterest. Views in this post are my own and do not represent those of my employer.

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