Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Marketing and Public Relations -- 3

New Rules for Communications Chapter 1 part 2

What is new?

Critics may tell you that there are no really new ideas today – everything is derivative and hasn’t changed in thousands of years. If you are talking about human psyche, some ways of thinking have not changed. You can read the Bible and find narratives that describe human wants, desires, and actions that have not changed. We still have the need to acquire the information to do our job. We still have a need to share with the community and teach the next generation. If you get stuck in old modes of delivery, your message will be lost. If you build on the fundamentals and try to use new tools to reach people, your audience will grow as you reach more potential users.

When I talk about users I’m including people of all ages and adults in many roles. Some of these roles may be overlapping. Roles include, children, students, parents, teachers, young adults, adults reading for recreation, searchers for information, tax payers, managers, government officials, community members who never visit the library, and anyone else who is directly or indirectly affected by the library, librarians, or information activities.

While we live in an era with some people demanding immediate gratification, do not expect every public relations activity to have immediate results. However, some activities will be a failure without instant results. For example if the signage is not clear someone may have an accident or be mislead. Learn when immediate results are needed and when careful, repeated actions are the best.


The daily job of public relations is to showcase the best, the new, or the ordinary people, places and services of the library. Everything is an opportunity for making a good impression. I was once invited to visit a library. I knew I was close, but I didn’t see an address or sign from the road. The building looked like every other commercial building. Thus the first impression of them was diminished. Were they trying to hide? Why didn’t they want to make an impression on all who passed, not just the ones looking for the library? They had a sign that was only visible once you turned into the parking lot. Make the signs in your library helpful and add value to your building and services. If you don’t pay attention to the little things, how are you going to work on the difficult and strategic plans?

Learn from both the praises and complaints. Learn from the success of businesses. Emulate their successful ideas as you apply them to your organization. Learn the new rules better and faster than your competition.


I did say ‘competition.” We are all in competition for time, scarce resources, and people’s minds. Books and periodicals are but two sources of information and recreation. We compete with other institutional departments for resources. Master the new communication rules faster and better than the others yet at the same time realize you are also cooperating. For example work with the faculty so that they become partners, not competitors.

Note these entries are based on the ideas from The New Rules of Marketing & PR by David Meerman Scott. I hope that I am complimenting his work and not stealing his ideas. I am coming to the discipline of marketing from an academic point of view and experience. I did not have any courses in the field except for the one taught. I have never worked in a corporate PR department. Since I have worked in sales, teaching, librarianship, and I have seen how people act and react to stimuli. I have seen how the little things count. I am not influenced by any corporate PR guru or frame of thought. My mind is open to new ways of attracting attention for the library as well as building on the fundamentals of serving what the public needs.

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