Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Tips to Managing E-mail

Stever Robbins offers tips for managing e-mail overload including how to send better mail and how to "train" those who mail you to do the same.

My favorite tip is to:

Use a subject line to summarize not describe. People scan their inbox by subject. Make your subject rich enough that your readers can decide whether it's relevant. The best way to do this is to summarize your message in your subject.

There nothing worse than e-mail without a relevant subject line, unless of course it doesn't have a subject line at all.

[Link courtesy of PR Opinions]

Accepting More Than Just Food For Fines

Many libraries have food for fines programs, but have you considered accepting other charitable contributions as well? If not, read about Southington Public Library's program in the Bristol Press.

[Link courtesy of Link of the Day]

Friday, October 22, 2004

PR Resources Librarians Should Check Out

Yes, it's been another slow week for me on the blog. I've been busy with a big event at work, which by the way went well today, thanks for asking. I may not have been blogging, but I seldom miss a day of checking my favorite blogs.

Here's some good stuff I've read lately, in case you missed it:

  • The Contentious blog is featuring a 10-part series for meeting the media's needs online. Amy's tips (verbatim) are to:
  1. Create an easy-to-find online pressroom.
  2. Include a complete and current list of individual press contacts.
  3. Never use a web-based form as the sole channel for media contacts.
  4. Include complete, specific contact info on every press release.
  5. Publish press releases on your own site first.
  6. Make it easy to link to your releases.
  7. Publish your news by webfeed.
  8. Offer an optional e-mail press release list.
  9. Don’t be an e-mail pest.
  10. Use real mailing list software (or a service) to distribute e-mail press releases.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Winning the Battle Against Library Jargon

Anyone writing copy for library newsletters, Web sites or other publications should read "Start Making Sense" by Ann Wylie (Public Relations Tactics, October 2004, vol. 11, issue 10, p. 17). You can read the print version or read the full text online in Business Source Premier (Ohioans can read the full text of Tactics and thousands of other magazines and journals through their school, public or academic library. I fear that few Ohioans know this or realize how cool it is).

Most librarians and library staff realize that there is a ton of jargon in library-land which we need to avoid using. I think there are also a lot of terms that we think users understand, which they really don't. The real harm with jargon is that it alienates your audience. According to Wylie it also:

* Makes your copy longer.
* Forces the reader to work harder.
* Makes it harder for the media to use your information.
* Illustrates that your organization may be in trouble.
* Demonstrates your ignorance.

Wylie offers three steps to clear communication:

* Define your audience

You can get away with using industry-specific jargon in trade publications and with insiders, but not with your outside audiences.

* Rethink definitions. The most common way to define terms on first reference is: "Unfamiliar term, familiar term ...." This is not the most friendly way.

*Use the B2B test.

Wylie describes the B2B (is it just me, or is this one of the most annoying examples of business jargon in existence?) test as going to trade publications' Web sites and searching for questionable terms to determine if they are jargon or not. You can adapt this test by searching local media sites for terms you use in your press releases. You can also search sites relevant to perspective audiences, or simply question audience members if they understand your terms are not. If not, don't use them!

Monday, October 11, 2004

Marketing Your Blog & RSS Feeds

Whether you have a personal blog or a library blog, you'll need to promote it in order to gain readers. Of course if your content isn't current and interesting your readers might not return. Not to worry though, there are plenty of online resources and blogs that can point you in the right direction.

ProBlogger is a "free collection of tips on writing content, search engine optimization, using advertising and affiliate programs etc - to help bloggers explore ways of adding revenue streams to what they do." ProBlogger also contains articles on promoting and marketing your blog. [link via B.L. Ochman].

I would also recommend Robin Good's Best Blog Directory and RSS Submission Sites for even more sources.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Colleges Focus on Marketing

I saw a link to this article in The News & Observer on Steven Bell's Kept-Up Academic Librarian some weeks ago, but just now had a chance to get back to it. The article discusses how colleges and universities are focusing on marketing.

I think many of the observations and statements found in this article can also apply to libraries, especially academic libraries. For instance:

The idea that universities should be packaged and sold like a corporate product seems a bit tawdry to some in higher education.

This is certainly a sentiment I've heard expressed. I've also heard concerns that if libraries adopt techniques used by for-profit businesses, like marketing, they'll become associated with many of the same negatives as those same businesses. It doesn't have to be that way at all.

"It's not about standing on top of a mountain with a megaphone shouting to the people down below about how good you are," said Steve Farmer, senior associate director of admissions at UNC-Chapel Hill. "You need to ask them first what kind of school they think you are. It's not always easy to hear what people think of you, but it's how you learn."

Ready for more? Read the article.

Friday, October 08, 2004

JibJab's Second Spoof a Hit

Good To Be In DC!, the second political parody by JibJab Media Inc., makers of This Land!, is a hit. Good To Be In DC! debuted on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno on October 7 and was also shown on the Today Show on October 8. The Today Show reported that more people have watched Good To Be In DC! than have visited both Kerry and Bush's Web sites. B. L. Ochman's site has the details.

I like this site for several reasons. First, it's hilarious. I watched it again while sitting here and suffering through the presidential debate. Which shows how timely the release date is. I also think it's a great tactic. The brothers who created this parody, Gregg and Evan Spiridellis, are honest about their efforts. They unabashedly plugged their DVD during their interview with Matt Lauer this morning.

I did have one complaint after my first visit to the JibJab site. I couldn't find a link to more information about the creators or contact information. I made a second visit this evening and after clicking on every link possible I did eventually find contact information and a blog (albeit an outdated one) hiding on the copyright statement page.

So why did the Spiridellis brothers create a second parody?

Jay Leno asked if we'’d be interested in making another one to debut on The Tonight Show, we said, “YES! YES! TAKE US, JAY! TAKE US!”

...We set specific goals for the sequel. We wanted to make you laugh (obviously). We wanted to stamp our brand on your brain again (JibJab! JibJab!). But most of all we wanted to make you say to yourself, “Dang! Those guys busted my gut! I’d pay ten bucks to see their movie!”

What does this have to do with library marketing and communications? A lot. If you want media attention, or the attention of users, non-users, etc. you need to be:

You also need to keep communicating in order to reach new users, inform potential users and stakeholders, and remind current users why you exist and how your resources and services benefit them.

Gregg and Evan Spiridellis' experiences also demonstrate another important lesson. If you can't reach the audience you want to, maybe you can get your advocates to do it for you. I'm not saying trick them into cheering for you (you can't), but give them something so great they can't wait to spread the good news for you. Gregg and Evan couldn't interest film and television companies into talking to them until after they posted This Land!, it spread rapidly through the Internet and into the mainstream media, and was viewed by millions. This lesson applies not just when you're trying to reach the media, but also when you're trying to reach legislators and other influencers, and even users (maybe students will listen to faculty more than librarians?).

Monday, October 04, 2004

What's in a Name?

While surfing from Weblog to Weblog tonight, I ran across a post about "The 9 Keys to Naming Success" on the Origins of Brands Blog.

I've been thinking about names a lot lately. It started when I was reading Selling the Invisible: A Field Guide to Modern Marketing by Harry Beckwith (which, by the way you should check out if you haven't already). Harry's chapter on names is aptly titled "Monogram Your Shirts, Not Your Company: Naming and Branding." This chapter really struck a chord with me in reference to libraries. When I first started working for a public library (my first library gig) I was constantly asking or trying to figure out what one acronym after another meant. There's ALA, OLC, ACRL, iii, YBP, etc. I won't even go into all the OhioLINK-specific acronyms that exist. If people in the library world have trouble keeping all these acronyms straight, how can users possibly cope?

Sunday, October 03, 2004

RLG Adds Promotional Toolkits

RLG has announced a new series of promotional toolkits designed to assist librarians in reaching out to users. Toolkits are now available on the RLG Web site for Anthropology Plus, RLG Archival Resources, and RLG Cultural Materials. RLG says they'll add promotional toolkits for more databases.

A list of links to other promotional and education tools from database vendors and publishers is available here.

Last Chance: ACRL Marketing Award

Does your library already have a marketing plan in place? Then why not reap some extra benefits. Entries for the ACRL http://www.ala.org/ala/acrl/acrlawards/bpaward.htm are due on October 29.

This one-time award will be given to the academic/research library that demonstrates an outstanding best practices marketing program. Programs must have been in place for one year and selection will be based on the most complete documentation.

A $2,000 award will be presented for first place and a $1,000 award will be given for second place. Portfolios are due October 29, 2004.