Thursday, April 8, 2010

PR Hint for March 2010 - 3 Tips in 1!

As the clock ticks down the days before the MLA annual conference in Bozeman, it’s time to get excited about Montana libraries, librarians, and marketing of libraries. So, this month’s PR Hint touches on all three important topics.


First-ever National Study: Millions of People Rely on Library Computers for Employment, Health, and Education
Nearly one-third of Americans age 14 or older – roughly 77 million people – used a public library computer or wireless network to access the Internet in the past year, according to a national report released today. In 2009, as the nation struggled through a recession, people relied on library technology to find work, apply for college, secure government benefits, learn about critical medical treatments, and connect with their communities. The report, Opportunity for All: How the American Public Benefits from Internet Access at U.S. Libraries, is based on the first, large-scale study of who uses public computers and Internet access in public libraries, the ways library patrons use this free technology service, why they use it, and how it affects their lives. It was conducted by the University of Washington Information School (go Huskies!) and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Low-income adults are more likely to rely on the public library as their sole access to computers and the Internet than any other income group. Overall, 44 percent of people living below the federal poverty line used computers and the Internet at their public libraries.


Top 50 librarian blogs:

For the link to the Top 50 Librarian blogs click the link below:


What is library marketing all about? Learning from our successes and failures, honing campaigns to reach more people, and trying new venues. Try some of these ideas to strengthen your efforts in the library marketing arena:

  • Use your logo on EVERYTHING to promote awareness.
  • Look at your programs or services through the eyes of your patrons and clients. What is exciting or unique? Promote from that thought pattern.
  • Create a LinkedIn account to establish yourself professionally.
  • Read your local newspaper and once per quarter send an e-mail to a reporter complimenting him or her on a piece s/he wrote. Just like all of us, they don't hear enough positives.
  • Join your local Chamber and attend at least one event per month. Become recognizable in your community.
  • Offer to speak at local civic groups like Kiwanis, Rotary, Optimist, and others to get your message out and give back by educating your community.
  • For each program, service, or event, try one new marketing effort.
  • Sign up for a Twitter account and find five people to follow that inspire you. Start by checking the account every Tuesday and Thursday morning.
  • Conduct a survey with your patrons and ask how they would like to receive information: e-mail, snail mail, advertising, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Use the feedback for your next campaign and see if it makes a difference.
  • Have a social media lunch once per month. Meet with your co-workers, staff, and superiors to see what everyone is trying. What blogs are people following? Who are they following on Twitter? What are the tweens and teens talking about? Are any of these worthy of trying?
  • Remove 'this is how we've always done it' from your vocabulary. Make a penalty jar for anyone who says it in your office.

Marketing is so much fun. It allows us to be limitless in our creativity, to reach new people, and to discover a program or service all over again. (Adapted courtesy of prtalk listserv)

See you at the annual MLA conference in Bozeman, where we’ll do a little library talkin’, marketing, and a lot of praising (well-deserved, of course) of librarians in Montana!

On behalf of the MLA PR & Marketing Committee

Lisa Mecklenberg Jackson
Legislative Attorney, MLIS

Friday, August 28, 2009

PR Hint for August 2009--Back to school spelling lesson!

Hi Montana Librarians,

It's back to school time and therefore the perfect opportunity for a quick, but important, spelling lesson from your MLA PR & Marketing Committee.

In the midst of your busy day how can you take care of all the things you need to and still have gray matter left to find the time and energy for a public relations campaign? Why not spell your way to improved public relations?

Promote. Never pass up an opportunity to promote your library to anyone. No place is off-limits whether it’s in an elevator, store, or hallway. Always carry business cards with you. Remember that Montana Legislators (via posters) can help to promote your library too:

Undertake. Volunteer to serve on a committee in your organization - - United Way campaign, social action committee, etc. It will be a positive experience and an opportunity to tell others about your library.

Be creative. Hold a "Our Library Is So Cool Week" with events to showcase your library’s services, technology and collection. You can tailor programs and events to reach all your users.

Learn. Stay abreast of the current issues in our profession. Let your users know that you attend local and national continuing education programs.

Invigorate. Enliven your library with some tasteful seasonal decorations. Try suspending a few large sparkling snowflakes or golden fall leaves from a ceiling in one of the library rooms. It can create a warm and welcoming atmosphere to an otherwise austere room! You’ll be surprised how many people notice the addition and enjoy it.

Create. Create good will by hosting social events in the library. Some examples are juice and muffins in the morning, potluck lunches, and punch and cookies receptions. Use any holiday or season for a theme. The possibilities are endless!

Remind. Take every opportunity to remind library users of the services you offer. List them on eye-catching bookmarks, brochures, and your website.

Enthuse. Be enthusiastic about your profession, your library, and your accomplishments. It’s an exciting time to be an information professional. Let others know!

Listen. Ask for and listen to new ideas from library users and staff. Put a suggestion box in the library. Most people are pleased that you are interested in their ideas.

Aspire. Aim each year to try a new public relations idea and to improve on one already in place. Don’t become stagnant!

Try. Perhaps not all your public relations ideas will be equally successful, but don’t give up! Keep the ideas that work well and move on.

Inform. Keep users informed about what’s new in the library –new acquisitions, new technology, new staff, etc. Don’t let the library drop off their radar screen!

Open. Have an open house in the library to showcase your public relations efforts;
it could feature your new brochures, any new technology, the suggestion box, and d├ęcor.

Network. Never pass up an opportunity to network with colleagues and learn about their PR activities. Become active in your local library community. Consider joining the MLA PR Committee (hint hint).

Share. Share your PR materials and success with colleagues at various Montana statewide library meetings or workshops and at the annual MLA Conference.

There are many components in a good public relations plan. But there is only one place to start. Public relations begins with Y-O-U!

Don't forget to visit the MLA PR Hints Blog at for previous PR Hints. And remember to post your photos on the Montana libraries group for Flickr

MLA PR & Marketing Committee Chair
*This PR Hint was adopted from an article by Frances Bertelli, Head Law Librarian, Aetna Inc., AALL Spectrum, Volume 4 No. 7 April 2000.

Lisa Mecklenberg Jackson
Legislative Attorney, MLIS

Monday, April 13, 2009

PR Hint for April 2009 -- Celebrate National Library Week!

Why did the librarian slip and fall on the library floor?

Because she was in the non-friction section.

Now that I have your attention..… Happy National Library Week! :)
National Library Week celebrates the positive contributions librarians make to their communities while promoting library use throughout the nation. April 12-19 is the perfect time to acknowledge the work that staff, volunteers, and supporters do each and every day. The theme for National Library Week 2009 is "Worlds connect @ your library."
How are you celebrating at your Montana library? Haven’t made your plans yet? It's not too late. See below for some great (but quick) ideas to get your library noticed ...
1. ALA National Library Week - This page from the American Library Association includes tips, tools, and downloadable graphics to help libraries plan and promote their National Library Week celebrations.
2. National Library Week - Crayola features a fine collection of activities and craft projects including downloadable coloring pages and lesson plans to celebrate the day. Free registration required.
3. Have a puzzling National Library Week! There are a number of super cool Websites where you can make your own personalized puzzles:
Create a mix of puzzles for all patrons to complete. Have small prizes for all who enter and then perhaps have a big prize
drawing for some goodies. You could have four puzzles during the week, one each on Monday through Thursday. On
Friday, have the big prize drawing.
4. Download a Montana Legislator READ poster from Or contact Lisa at for your FREE copy.
5. Check out There is a list of activities specific libraries (including Missoula Public) plan in celebration of National Library Week. There is some good stuff here!
6. Library Trivia Week. Do a two-part contest. The first day it's quotes about libraries ( and the second it's librarians in the movies (
7. For each day of National Library Week, feature a different type of reference book. Monday--directories, Tuesday--medical books, Wednesday--automotive books, Thursday--law books, and Friday--patron picks!
8. Put a personal face on it. Put together a "Know your Librarian(s)" quiz--ask for information on colleges, hobbies, etc. Award small prizes for those who know you the best!
9. Book/Media Swap--Have patrons bring in gently used materials from home to donate to a children's shelter or agency or ask people to bring in new books or videos. Those who donate get to put their name in a drawing for a special prize.
10. Library Media & PR has a host of ideas for promoting the library at any time of year: Lynne's Web includes word games and pages of library quotes, reading quotes, and book quotes: Look for library cartoons at
111. Law Librarians Do It Up Nicely: Look here for some cool ideas you can adapt to your own library:
We'd love to know what Montana libraries are doing for National Library Week. Please send me your plans and I will compile them and post them on the PR Hints Blog at And don't forget to post your photos on the Montana libraries group for Flickr

Happy National Library Week, all you wonderful Montana librarians! Celebrate you!

Lisa Mecklenberg Jackson,
Legislative Attorney, M.L.I.S.
Chair, MLA PR & Marketing Committee

Thursday, February 26, 2009

PR Hint of the Month - February 2009 - MT Legislator READ posters for you!

Hello Montana Librarians,

Below is a list of legislators who recently posed for their very own READ poster to support Montana libraries. You can download an 8 1/2" x 11" poster yourself at or if you would like an 18" x 24" poster, please let me know ( and I will make sure you get a copy at the MLA Conference or sooner. School libraries, university and special libraries--the offer stands for you too! Let's all take part in this unique win-win marketing campaign for Montana libraries!

Representative Elsie Arntzen House District 53 Billings
Representative Shannon Augare House District 16 Browning
Representative Dick Barrett House District 93 Missoula
Representative Bill Beck House District 6 Whitefish
Representative Paul Beck House District 59 Red Lodge
Senator Jerry Black Senate District 14 Shelby
Representative Anders Blewett House District 21 Great Falls
Senator Gary Branae (w/Rep. Driscoll) Senate District 27 Billings
Representative Frosty and Pat Calf Boss Ribs House District 15 Heart Butte
Representative Robyn Driscoll (w/Senator Branae) House District 51 Billings
Representative Bob Ebinger House District 62 Livingston
Representative John Fleming House District 12 Saint Ignatius
Representative Julie French House District 36 Scobey
Representative Tim Furey House District 91 Milltown
Representative Dennis Getz House District 38 Glendive
Representative Wanda Grinde House District 48 Billings
Senator Brady Hamlett Senate District 10 Cascade
Spouse of Senator Bob Hawks Jane Hawks Bozeman
Representative Gordon Hendrick House District 14 Superior
Representative Teresa K. Henry House District 96 Missoula
Representative Roy Hollandsworth House District 28 Brady
Representative Brian Hoven House District 24 Great Falls
Representative Pat Ingraham House District 13 Thompson Falls
Senator Rick Laible Senate District 44 Darby
Representative Bob Lake House District 88 Hamilton
Senator Jesse Laslovich Senate District 43 Anaconda
Representative Margie MacDonald House District 54 Billings
Representative Gary MacLaren House District 89 Victor
Representative Sue Malek House District 98 Missoula
Representative Bill McChesney House District 40 Miles City
Representative Edie McClafferty House District 75 Butte
Representative Robert "Bob" Mehlhoff House District 26 Great Falls
Representative Michael More House District 70 Gallatin Gateway
Representative Pat Noonan House District 73 Ramsay
Representative JP Pomnichowski House District 63 Bozeman
Representative Michele Reinhart House District 97 Missoula
Representative J. David Roundstone House District 41 Busby
Representative Diane Sands House District 95 Missoula
Representative Jon Sesso House District 76 Butte
Senator Jim Shockley Senate District 45 Victor
Senator Carolyn Squires Senate District 48 Missoula
Representative Cheryl Steenson House District 8 Kalispell
Representative Ron Stoker House District 87 Darby
Representative Janna Taylor House District 11 Dayton
Representative Ted Washburn House District 69 Bozeman
Senator Carol Williams Senate District 46 Missoula
Representative Franke Wilmer House District 64 Bozeman
Representative Brady Wiseman House District 65 Bozeman

Montana's Congressional delegation of Max Baucus, Denny Rehberg, and Jon Tester also posed for posters, as did Governor Schweitzer and Secretary of State Linda McCulloch. You'll also note there are a few county commissioners' posters on the list. Check to see if they are yours! You can also get copies of any of these posters for your library--just let me know!

Thanks to Jim Kammerer at the State Library for spearheading the legislator picture-taking event at the legislator library night in January, Diane Papineau at NRIS for taking the great photos, and Stacy Bruhn at the State Library for putting the posters together and getting them on the MLA Webpage. Remember--please e-mail me at if you would like a copy of your legislator's poster--or if you have any questions regarding this project. Thanks much!
And don't forget to check out the MLA Blog for previous PR Hint postings:
This message brought to you by your MLA PR and Marketing Committee.
PR & Marketing Committee Chair

Lisa Mecklenberg Jackson
Legislative Attorney, M.L.I.S.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

PR Hint for Jan 2009 - Do YouTube?

Do YouTube?

Promote your library online by joining the ranks of millions who are posting and viewing on YouTube! You can take advantage of this free resource to both promote your library and utilize a potentially valuable reference resource. YouTube isn’t just for entertainment any more! It’s a valuable teaching and learning tool, too, depending on what you’re researching.

While the many of his colleagues were attending the MLA conference and he was staying behind to staff the reference desk, Brian Rossmann, Associate Dean of the MSU Libraries, created a short library tour video, which he posted on YouTube and to which we point from our library webpage; find it here:
New and prospective students, visitors and donors can get an introductory glimpse of the library through this dynamic PR tool.

Here are just a few testimonies of the reference uses of YouTube, as noted recently on the DigRef_L discussion list:

*A librarian in Maryland noted that she has used YouTube to answer “how to” questions, including one from a patron who was learning how to knit and one who wanted to solve a Rubrik’s Cube.

*An Illinois librarian used YouTube recently to research marketing in a recession and was pleasantly surprised at the quantity and quality of short videos that contained worthwhile information about marketing in general.

Brought to you by your MLA PR and Marketing Committee

Mary Anne Hansen, MLS, M.Ed
The Montana State University Libraries

Thursday, December 18, 2008

PR Hint for December 2008 - Creativity Economy - Everyone Gets to Play in New Places

Creativity Economy – Everyone Gets to Play in New Places

In the December 18th issue of SmartBrief on Leadership, there is an excerpt titled “How to foster creativity that pays dividends.” This excerpt went on to discuss “a group of Nike employees in Toronto meets every week in the same place to brainstorm. What's creative about that? The place is a subway car and they interact with passengers. "Gray Formica meeting spaces lead to gray Formica thinking," says innovation expert Dave Lewis.

Going to the source of the article at Knowledge@W.P. Carey provides some tips for starting a business-wide creativity habit that improves the bottom line. Mr. Lewis’ company mission is to shake people out of stale thinking. Their working definition of creativity is “the habit of continually doing things in new ways to make a positive difference to our working lives.”

Do your creative projects get restricted only to those with a marketing title, or well-known innovative people in your library? Mr. Lewis states “I think everybody has an opportunity to do things in new ways. How many here have ever cooked without a recipe? How many have ever redecorated a room?”

This is not to say we should run rampant with creativity. To make it worthwhile, creativity should get your library somewhere, it should add to your bottom line. Creativity is not the goal; rather, it should lead to a combination of insights into customer’s needs and wants with ideas, creating an impact. And no matter what, those impacts should not be ignored. Yes, there are times where bureaucracy forces an impact, a great idea into incremental change – this leads to the same old situation syndrome. The impact becomes mediocre or less, unable to maximize on its potential.

While rewards and measures can be in place to foster a workplace’s creativity, sometimes the surroundings need to change. As Mr. Lewis asks, “How can you be innovative in the place where you’re doing your financial planning?”

Things to think about…anyone up for a library brainstorming session in the grocery store?

[1] How to foster creativity that pays dividends; SmartBrief on Leadership; Dec 18, 2008 referring to Knowledge@W.P. Carey (12/3) –
Dave Lewis: Creating the Creativity Economy; published Dec 3, 2008 in Knowledge@W.P. Carey

Heidi Sue Adams, MS, AHIP
KRMC Medical Librarian

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

PR Hint for Oct 2008 - Managing the Evidence

PR Hint for October 2008 - Managing the Evidence

If we sold products, one could grasp, feel, and pick up the product. Although our patrons can pick up information in a variety of formats, libraries are primarily an information service. A service is not a tangible item; so how do we “grasp, feel, and pick up” a service? And how do we market this intangible item to our current and new patrons?

One way to do this is by managing the evidence.

"Managing the evidence" refers to the act of informing customers that the service encounter has been performed successfully. It is best done in subtle ways like providing examples or descriptions of good and poor service that can be used as a basis of comparison. The underlying rationale is that a customer might not appreciate the full worth of the service if they do not have a good benchmark for comparisons.[1]

When marketing your services, select your patron population(s) and target them with specific communication of concrete examples on how you can serve their needs. Compare your methods with other ways potential patrons receive information. Also compare your methods with how other information venues provide information. How can your library surpass patrons’ expectations regarding their current methods of retrieving information?

One typical scenario of a library service is providing wireless access. What services can we provide differently from a wireless access point in a coffee shop? What would make these patrons excited to embrace all the library has to offer? Stereotypically, libraries generally aren’t known for good pastries. However, libraries have a lot more to offer than coffee shops. What are those services? How do they compare between the two venues? Why would the patron want to go to the library instead of the coffee shop?

Try not to stipulate your needs, but rather, place the focus and emphasis on their needs. When and why do they seek information? How do they want to receive their information? Although it’s easier said than done, sometimes libraries may not pay close attention to the up and coming future patrons’ preference for information formats. While many libraries have embraced the rage about some of the 2.0 technologies, for many of our potential patrons, this is already old news. Old news often equates with unused service. Pay special attention to statistics because it will tell you if the service you’re providing is worthwhile. Even if you love providing this service; if it’s not being used, it’s not being used. Scrap it to learn another approach that would be indubitably used by your patrons.

Manage the evidence and take advantage of the gaps in services they are currently experiencing from other information venues. Speaking in their language with concrete examples may just be the ticket to getting your age-old message across.

[1] Services Marketing -

Heidi Sue Adams, MS, AHIP
KRMC Medical Librarian