Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Library Promotion Goes to the Hounds

I recently subscribed to the The Publicity Hounds Tips of the Week, Joan Stewart's e-newsletter. Each week Joan features a question from a reader. Last week's question from Tia Dobi of Los Angeles, dealt with libraries:

One of my clients is a large, multi state group of public libraries. Their dilemma: most people who use the library already know about the library. And because libraries have little or no money, the majority of flyers and pamphlets generated are distributed within the confinements of the library. So nobody on the outside sees them.

How can community libraries get some stellar publicity, attract newcomers and keep the promotions appealing yet focused?

Some of readers' more creative suggestions include:
  • "Create a "murder mystery" night as a fundraiser for the library. Not only did the library make a wad of money, but the PR was outstanding!"
    Kitty Werner, Waitsfield VT)
  • "Contact the White House, find out how you can send a letter to First Lady Laura Bush, a former librarian, and see if she would do a public service announcement promoting libraries in your multi-state area. The ideal time would be during National Library Week in April 2005. " (Dale W. Hutchings, St. Petersburg, Florida)
  • "The Waldport Chamber of Commerce will ask us from time to time if we could deliver/post their flyers all over town and we always say yes. If a service club member were to walk in to a shop to deliver a flyer not of their own, it would be both a community service and an opportunity to show the colors of their group. . . Another flyer distribution method is to gain permission of the local supermarket manager to have clerks stuff flyers in shopping bags on checkout. Or, stand on a busy street corner dressed in a Lions costume (or any attention getter) and hand out flyers to passersby or people stopped at traffic lights." (Victor De'Prey, Yachats, Oregon)
  • "How about organizing a marathon reading event? You can even turn it into an event for the Guinness Book of World Records. Invite the community to register and take turns reading parts of books from a cross-section of subjects available in the library so you can showcase the range of books. Involve participants of all ages, from young children reading nursery books to senior citizens reading books relevant to them. You can also invite professionals to read books relevant to their fields of work. If possible, you can link up all the libraries electronically and involve readers from all libraries in a circuit format. The more readers you have, the longer you can sustain this activity." (Jayanthi Gopal, Singapore)If the library gave out frequent flyer miles, I'd have a trip around the world by now. Offer frequent flyer "miles" to those who use the library. Of course, the miles will not be actual airline miles, but who knows? It never hurts to ask. And if the airlines say no, then the "miles" could be prizes donated by local businesses. (Martha Retallick, Tuscon, Arizona
  • "Why not take the pamphlets, flyers, etc. out of the library? Have librarians create bookmark-size lists of recommended books that focus on one topic. Then distribute to groups that are interested in that topic. For example, a list of best-sellers available in large print could go to local senior citizen centers or nursing homes. The hottest parenting books could be shared with "mommy & me" groups or handed out at pediatricians' offices. Books on history or architecture could go to the membership of the local preservation society." (Erin Read Ruddick, Providence, Rhode Island)
The complete list of responses is available. Subscribe to the The Publicity Hounds Tips of the Week here.

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