New Marketing Trends

Marketing Ideas for Non-Profits and Libraries

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

Monday, October 11, 2010

Rock Stars

David King and Andy Woodworth both wrote in support of library rock stars. I’d like to add my two cents from a PR perspective.

Yesterday I completed a 24 hour journey to visit the DOK Library Concept Center in Delft, Netherlands. I never would have made this trip had it not been for two of my favorite “rock star” librarians – Erik Boekesteijn and Jaap Van De Geer. From what I hear, I am only one of thousands who have traveled from distant shores to visit this library. Are they rock stars? For sure! But more than that, they have helped to make a small library in a tiny country known around the world. Does that open doors for their library? You betcha!

The more people from my library that I can get into the newspapers, on a podium or winning an award, the happier I am. There are several reasons why PR people encourage library staff to stand up and be seen:

  1. Free publicity for the library. The formula is simple: news/award = photo op= publicity in newspapers in print and online. A good PR person also wants to send releases to your alumni magazine, volunteer organizations and local paper.
  2. Every time a person from a library makes a positive impression in the community, it speaks well about the library. Some people may never step into your library and yet an impressive presentation at a Rotary Meeting may turn a person into a strong supporter at the polls.
  3. People like to associate with popular or famous people and that can open doors to new community sponsors or it may create connections that will give your library an important seat at the table.
  4. Great for morale. Now this can be tricky because if only one or two people are receiving recognition, it can backfire. But if all of the staff is encouraged to shine, then it can create a very positive uplifting work environment.
  5. Great political leverage. Politicians read newspapers and watch news. When your library is well represented in an article or news item, those same politicians are hearing you loud and clear!

David also spoke about highlighting talented individuals within the library. His library promoted the talents of their children’s librarian. Absolutely! I also love the idea of highlighting staff on the website as reviewers, writers, or any other role that will demonstrate an expertise. I know many people feel uncomfortable having a spotlight pointed toward them but it is important for customers to know the level of expertise they can find in the library. It is also a valuable comfort creator to have a face that people who are new to the library can recognize. Of course it is also important to be careful not to make it seem as though there is only one person who can help people. Every person in your library plays an important role in making your library great. Why not flaunt the excellence that makes that possible? DOK’s annual report includes photos if the janitor! Why not? A clean building plays a major role in the customer’s experience. The key is to have the library represented by all of its employees. It portrays a fuller picture of the library and won’t set your customer relations back if an employee moves on. A trick is to highlight individuals as part of a team. (This is Suzi, she is part of our YA team.)

Whether you are being promoted or promoting someone else in your library, as long as it paints your library in a positive light, its all good. So go ahead and rock on!


Mark Borneman said...

Wow, great post.

Looking forward to meeting you this afternoon.

Our marketing is also about 'listening'... Not only to people entering our building, but also people outside talking about books, music and art in a non-library context. There we can make ourselves known and give guidance and tips where to find great content. Offer it for free first time around, to give them a taste and start conversion after you've built a relationship. They will stick with you for the long run.

For people who want to meet the janitor and other colleagues:

Good luck with your travels!

Mark Borneman
DOK library concept center

Nancy Dowd said...

Thanks Mark for spending some time with me this afternoon. DOK has put together an amazing marketing plan of action. I am totally psyched!

Readers, I'll be sharing more about my conversation with Mark in the coming weeks, so keep posted.

Here's a hint- notice that Mark replied to my post and included his contact information and links back to the site? All part of the plan!

Eddie said...

"Every time a person from a library makes a positive impression in the community, it speaks well about the library. "

Definitely true. If the community or people will see that the staff in your library are accommodating and that they create that aura of being approachable, they will get the impression that your library serves more than its purpose and that is your librarians are not snob people.

Of course, the librarians will enjoy their job more than they already do.

By the way, I also have a blog. The latest entry is about 'School Violence'. I hope you can come and visit any time you're available.

More power to your blog and David King's, too. I visit his blog, as well.

~Kathy Dempsey said...

Good stuff, Nancy. I'm glad you got this conversation going over here.

When I first read David Lee King's original post, I couldn't help but comment when a reader there said he thought staff self-promotion was a waste of time. One of the things I put forward was this:
"Do you have a particular person you want to see at your investment company, hair salon, grocery check-out line, etc? Do you like to get your fave waitress at the restaurant? The food is the same if you sit at a different table, but the service might not be as good or the meal as enjoyable." The personal element really matters!

Lots of other good points too, including Stephen Abram saying that our modesty works against our own goals of providing great customer service and experiences.

For people who don't feel comfortable with the term "rock star," then replace it with another. The discussion isn't about being cocky or glamorous, it's about making staff members recognizable to members of the public to help them think of and use the library. When we make connections personal and experiences memorable, and when our actions make visitors want to use our services and expertise again, then we're getting where we need to be in order to outlast our competitors.