Monday, August 9, 2010

Marketing and Public Relations -- 2

New Rules for Communications Chapter 1

The Internet, desire for instant gratification, and the economy have created new rules for libraries and librarians. Major public library systems, such as Chicago, have reduced hours so that they can save money. School systems have fired their librarians because of lack of funds. Like a business, librarians have to justify their existence and show stakeholders a return on their investment. Don’t believe for one moment that non-profits don’t have to show a return. The return may be harder to measure because it is not always dollars and cents, but there is a need for a positive return.

I am using these blog entries for testing my ideas and I hope that you will comment. They may be the basis for a book on the concept of library marketing. There are new rules for libraries. Libraries can not sit back and serve those who come in the door, but must attract new users and new images. The tax payers, school administrators, and corporate managers, must begin to realize that the investment return is communal and not just for the people who step in the door. With data bases and online content the library is now open 24/7. One can not access millions of books and articles online, but that does not preclude the need for buildings and experts to staff those institutions.

The web is a tool for telling your story and the story of the organization directly to the end users. No longer are you dependent on the news media, direct mail, printed advertisements or other middlemen. You and your organization can communicate with your readers and your community. This direct access is defining the new rules of communication.

The primary goals of public relations include
1) Getting noticed by those who never paid attention
2) Continuing your relationship with current users
3) Making people feel good about your services
4) Establishing lines of communication for constant improvements
5) Delivering content in a way that is attractive, useful and helpful to your public

A secondary goal is to increase the organization’s financial and psychological support of the library’s resources and personnel. Stop the idea that a library is a cost center and turn it into a profit center. Make the library a center that produces more community rewards then the money invested.

Trying to organize

As in many academic disciplines, there is no a linear progression of ideas. The ideas and concepts are intertwined. Creating a blog does not preclude social networking, podcasts, online discussions, printed materials, and personal contact. However, one must organize the materials so that a reader can read and comprehend them. Keep in mind that human beings try organize the world so that they can feel in control. Alphabetical or numerical orders are two of the ways were organize entries. All the tools, media, and techniques at your disposal complement one another. Your targeted audience needs to be hit with multiple messages to multiple senses. People learn in different ways – some are pictorial and graphically oriented, some word oriented, some need their tactile senses stimulated, but most need a little of each.

Online media and options are evolving. What was once difficult is routine today. Keep the goals and fundamentals in mind so that when you need to change the way they are expressed, you are still on track to accomplishing your goals. Once you start to develop your total marketing plan, common sense and experience will prevail. You do not need a full written plan to begin to experiment with Web 2.0 options. Try some ideas and see how they work before you commit to a full written plan. Gain experience before committing the big bucks and time for your full plan.

I am not going to tell you the step by step “how-to” because there are other books that can do it better and because these steps can change quickly. If I teach you what answers are possible and point you in the right directions you can figure out a route for the answers today and in the future. If you want to find the best route, then you can hire an expert.

Since libraries may be to part of private, public, school, and academic institutions I use the terms “organizations” and “institutions” as very general terms. Feel free to substitute a word that better fits you or your organization.

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