New Marketing Trends

Marketing Ideas for Non-Profits and Libraries

The M Word helps librarians learn about marketing trends and ideas.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Summer of 2016 Marketing Awards

The number of library marketing contests has been growing, bit by bit. The ones I'm covering here are three of the biggest. The achievements of this latest crop of winners are high benchmarks that you can compare to your own marketing efforts.

People begin pouring into the PR Xchange
area at soon as it opens at ALA.
(Photos by Kathy Dempsey unless otherwise noted)

PR Xchange Awards     

This year’s PR Xchange Awards Competition for library promotional materials was huge. More than 100 institutions (public, academic, school, state, and special libraries) sent more than 390 entries. A jury of 17 appraised each entry on the quality of its content, along with its format, design, creativity, and originality. The jury consisted of marketing and communications professionals, graphic designers, outreach librarians, and a library marketing consultant (that last one is me!).

There were 27 electronic winners and 32 print winners, since the many categories are broken down by library budget, to make the competition more fair. So the list of winners is too long to share in this post, but you can find it here.

Contest Chairs hand out the PR Xchange award certificates.

This annual contest is run by the Public Relations and Marketing Section (PRMS) of ALA’s LLAMA (Library Leadership and Management Association). The co-chairs, Mark Aaron Polger and Laura Tomcik, arranged for the winning entries to be displayed at the PR Xchange event at the ALA Annual Conference in Orlando, Fla., on June 26, and PR Xchange committee members presented the award certificates to happy winners there. 

John Cotton Dana Library Public Relations Award Winners

The other large annual contest run by LLAMA's PRMS section is the John Cotton Dana Library Public Relations Award. Thanks to generous sponsorship from EBSCO and the H.W. Wilson Foundation, each of the eight winning libraries receives a $10,000 prize and a plaque.

Here are the eight winners:
  • Charlotte Mecklenburg (N.C.) Library for A Library of Possibilities
  • Chicago Public Library for Summer Learning Challenge 2015: Explore and Soar
  • Houston Public Library for MY Link card campaign
  • New Orleans Public Library for A Library at a Crossroads
  • Northwestern University Library in Illinois for #UndeadTech
  • San Diego County Library for 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten
  • Alfred University’s (N.Y.) Scholes Library of Ceramics for Harry Potter’s World
  • Vancouver (B.C., Canada) Public Library for Inspiration Lab launch campaign
All the JCD winners (except Vancouver, who couldn't be there) posed together at the end of the ceremony.

I encourage you to look up their full info here. From there, you can link to a more-detailed winner list, or to a page with winner photos. The recipients accepted their awards at an open reception on June 26 during the ALA Annual Conference in Orlando, Florida.

IFLA’s BibLibre International Marketing Awards

The Management and Marketing (M&M) Section of IFLA, the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions, ran its annual marketing contest again, and it drew 71 applications from 26 countries, in 6 languages. The M&M section members bestowed these 13th annual marketing awards at IFLA's World Library and Information Congress in August in Columbus, Ohio. BibLibre (, a French open source software company, generously sponsored the awards this year.

Here are the top three winners:

Part of Vancouver PL's award-winning promotion material
1. Vancouver Public Library: Inspiration Lab Launch Campaign (British Columbia, Canada;
In May 2015, Vancouver Public Library launched an Inspiration Lab—“a hands­on digital media hub with sound studios, video production and editing, analog-­to-­digital conversion, and self­-publishing software.” The launch campaign achieved its marketing objectives by targeting early adopters and media outlets that could extend awareness through their own networks and channels.

2. Xiamen University Libraries: Tuan Time (Xiamen, Fujian Province, China;
As IFLA’s press release explains in English, “Since 2013, each graduate student’s library usage record has been transferred by librarians into a refreshing personalized e­account with painting and music, showing their lists of borrowings, library entries, favorite seats, and so on. The theme of the website is ‘Tuan Time,’ namely, ‘Library Time.’ By combining three Chinese characters into one, the newly coined Chinese character ‘Tuan’ conveys the notion that a library is both a book-­collection shelter and soul­-enriching harbor.” The accounts are permanent, and many students have shared them on microblogs ( and WeChat.

3. Sunshine Coast Libraries: Sunshine Coast Libraries Pop Ups! (Queensland, Australia; ​​
Staff members at this public library system created six pop-up libraries and held six major events across Australia’s Sunshine Coast. Each pop-up had its own slogan that was crafted specifically for that event: Libraries Colour My Life, Libraries Light Me Up, Real Aussies Read, Where’s Wally—at the Library!, Reading—Food for the Mind, and Run to Reading.
 Silvere Mercier and Nancy Gwinn of the M&M Section prepare 
to give out the 2016 IFLA BibLibre International Marketing
Awards in Ohio. (Photo courtesy of Christie Koontz)

This award honors organizations that implement creative, results-­oriented marketing projects or campaigns. Details on the winners and runners-up are here. (See especially the Storify page!)Thanks to BibLibre, the first- and second-place winners received payment for airfare, lodging, and registration to attend the IFLA event in Ohio. The sponsor also provided cash awards of €2,000, €1,000, and €500 (about $2,256, $1,128, and $564) for the top three winners, which must be used to further their marketing efforts.

Studying top-ranked marketing campaigns like these is a great way to learn about best practices and to see what true marketing projects look like—and what they can achieve. Note that Vancouver Public Library took prizes from both JCD and IFLA, so if you only have time to dig into one campaign, make it that one. Take a look, be inspired, and start to plan your 2017 marketing efforts!

To be inclusive, let me remind you of the other main contests:

If you know of other national or international marketing contests that I've missed, please comment to tell me about them. Thank you!

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