New Marketing Trends

Marketing Ideas for Non-Profits and Libraries

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

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Share Info on COVID-19, Quickly & Easily

I see an opportunity for libraries around the world to spread real, true medical information, quickly and easily. 

As the coronavirus spreads around the world, so does misinformation and panic. Libraries and librarians of all types are already seen as trustworthy sources of information. Let's take advantage of that positive perception and help spread useful news. 

A screen capture from an article in The Economist:

Of course you can do that by sharing info from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other, more local medical authorities. These could take the form of social posts, blog / news posts, fliers, website banners, etc. But I see a faster and easier way.

If and when your library starts to cancel events and programs, explain exactly why that matters and how it will help. 

Explain to your patrons that you're not giving in to panic, but that your cancellations are following the proven concept of "social distancing." The idea is to keep people from spreading a disease in large crowds. Slowing the spread (even if it is inevitable) keeps the number of infected people lower across time. This prevents medical systems from being overwhelmed all at once, and also buys time to obtain and distribute necessary supplies. The chart above illustrates the concept.

When you announce closures, program cancellations, etc., do not just say "due to the coronavirus outbreak." Instead, explain how keeping people from congregating will slow down the spread and make it easier for the medical community to keep up with cases.

Share the chart above (and cite the original in The Economist: or a similar chart from

Also share info like this: 

The Washington Post: "Social distancing could buy U.S. valuable time against coronavirus." March 10, 2020.

U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, Fact Sheet: "Taking Care of Your Behavioral Health During an Infectious Disease Outbreak: Tips for Social Distancing, Quarantine, and Isolation." Dec. 2014. Downloadable PDF.

NewsGuard: "Coronavirus Misinformation Tracking Center." A list of websites publishing false coronavirus information, organized by country. Updated often.

And of course, follow these marketing best practices: 

  • Create standard messaging and train every library employee to use it, or to refer questions to an approved spokesperson. 
  • Share the standard message across all your channels.
  • Have a crisis communication plan in place.

Prove that, as always, 
librarians share true, trustworthy info. 

A screenshot from a late-night TV roundup
on (US)

    ** After reading all this, you might need a little levity. Enjoy this compilation of late-night comedians commenting on the coronavirus (Thanks to The Guardian). 

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