Connections: Using What You READ to Influence What you DO

2011 Summer Reading Program

Preliminary Marketing Strategy

(Planned with Advice from Deirdre Breakenridge’s PR 2.0)

Introduction: Painting the Picture

I work for the Community Services Department for a Library in the West Suburbs.  One of my assignments for the upcoming Summer Season is to market the 2011 Summer Reading Program (SRP).  Because I work in a department that mainly functions in a PR 1.0 world (we haven’t received permission to create a blog, Facebook Page, or Twitter Account, and we don’t typically employ many 2.0 strategies—users creating content, conversations rather than monologues, transparency, etc), I decided to take as many ideas as possible from Deirdre Breakenridge’s book, PR 2.0: New Media, New Tools, New Audiences and apply them to my preliminary marketing strategy for the 2011 SRP.

The format of this plan is broken down into 5 “rounds.”  Each round begins with a recap of one or more of Breakenridge’s main points.  I then add in the actions that I plan to take with my personal marketing strategy for the Library, based off of Breakenridge’s suggestions.  I plan on distributing this copy to the other members of my department, asking for suggestions and opinions, in the hopes of starting a healthy dialogue; focusing on ways we can move ourselves into a P.R. 2.0 state of mind.

Round 1:  Do Your Homework

Deirdre Breakenridge Says: Don’t just sit back and watch the world change.  You must keep yourself well informed and your company loaded with intelligence.  Of course, you should also practice sharing the intelligence, not just with your entire public relations team, but also others in your company (38).

Actions to Take: Before creating a finalized marketing plan, I would like to research the ways in which other libraries put on Summer Reading Programs.  I will review 5 different libraries (different demographics and geographical locations for each one). This will allow me to come up with a myriad of different promotional and programming ideas for our SRP.

Questions to ask as I am looking at each library:  How do they get the word out about their Summer Reading Program?  What media are used? Who are they targeting? Are the successful? How or how not?  How can I use “X IDEA” at the library I work for?

After creating these 5 “profiles,” I will bring the new ideas to the SRP committee meeting in order to “share” the new found intelligence with my colleague; opening the floor up for lively discussion afterwards. Hopefully some of these ideas will be adopted and implemented into our own SRP promotional calendar and marketing strategy.

Round 2:  Network:  Choose Your Own “Fave Five”

Deirdre Breakenridge Says: Develop a solid database of media contacts that will lead to tremendous opportunities in your career and for the brand you represent.  Find out what journalists expect from you and how they want to be contacted.  Each individual journalist might have a PR 2.0 preference, whether it’s communication through e-mail, IM, or blogs (69).

Actions to Take: Our Community Relations Coordinator (CRC) has a long list of media contact that our Library has used for many years.  I would like to have a conversation with the CRC to narrow down this list into our “Fave 5’—those journalists and media correspondents that are most likely to help us and deliver the best results.  These media contact should cover a wide range of avenues:  print, electronic, blogging, radio/television, etc.

After this list is created, I will take the time to personally introduce myself to each “contact person.”  I can use this opportunity to talk to them about SRP, ask if they have any questions or ideas and discover in what ways they would be interested in promoting our program.  This would also be a great chance to look for partnership opportunities—are there ways that we can advocate for them as well?  As Brekenridge points out, each person might like to work in a different medium.  By personally introducing myself, I can get a feel for how he or she likes to communicate and in what capacity.  This information will make our partnership more effective.

Round 3:  Communicate: Let’s Give ‘Em Something Talk About

Deirdre Breakenridge Says: Keep positive social media chatter going by launching new campaigns or communication initiatives around what your customers like and find pleasing.  They will continue to show loyal brand enthusiasm by sharing and spreading information on your brand.  Change with the times.  Put your old clip books away and let technology guide you into new monitoring and measurement forums (84).

Actions to Take: The SRP program has, by far, the greatest number of participants than any other program we put on throughout the year.  Our patrons love SRP because we work hard to provide great incentives for readers young and old.  Since we know that people talk about our program, it is my responsibility to find out where they are talking about it.  The Actions to Take in this step are two-fold.

I would like to use new technology like Twitter/Facebook Search and Technorati to mine the internet for mentions of SRP.  Once I find these mentions, I would like to positively interact with the conversationalists and keep the discussion going.

In order to do this, I would like to set up groups on LinkedIn and Yelp, as well as post to the TribLocal discussion boards.  I will invite our actively responsive patrons to join or follow these groups and then facilitate the discussion by posting questions, updates, reminders, etc in hopes that their dialogue will continue.

I then plan on using information from these conversations to monitor and evaluate the ways in which we currently run SRP.  These qualitative and quantitative results will be shared with the SRP committee so that we may identify patterns and use this knowledge to better plan upcoming SRPs.

Round 4:  Expose Yourself

Deirdre Breakenridge Says: Blogs go one step beyond the profile.  A blog is the best way to say, “Here’s who I am and here’s what I have to say.”  Today, people want to connect, not just to the companies they purchase their products/services form, but also connect to the people behind those companies.  If the executives behind a brand are not blogging, they’re losing an opportunity, especially if they want people to talk (141).

Actions to Take: Currently, we don’t blog or employ any Social Media platforms, but we do have a great website.  I would like to encourage the idea of having a special spot on the web page that focuses on SRP.  This page could be interactive where both Library employees and Patrons can have the opportunity to add content.  We could feature an Adult, Teen and Children’s librarian talking about the rules of SRP in short video clips.  Or have patrons suggest books to read during the program.  We could even have a space for our librarians to post biographies of themselves and what they are reading for SRP.  The point of this page would be to showcase the staff and let our patrons get to know and interact with our Library.  Having this type of 2-way communication might even encourage additional conversations that can be created and cultivated on the sites that we set up in Round 3.  The possibilities with this type of transparency are endless and not only enhance the promotional value of our Library’s programs, but humanize our staff and our building, making the Library feel like home.

Round 5:  Employ one new Social Media Tool:  RSS, Meet SRP

Deirdre Breakenridge Says: RSS is a straightforward means to reach your audience.  Although it’s a different approach for the PR pro, it is unmatched in terms of its effectiveness.  However, it is important to remember that RSS content feeds might get your information directly to your target audience, but the content and quality of your message is really they key element

Actions to Take: I would like to propose creating several RSS feeds that our patrons could subscribe to for SRP.  We could have a RSS fee for Children’s books, Teen books, Adult books, SRP information, Raffle Prize information, etc.  These RSS feeds could be curated by the librarians in each department as well as support staff who have an interest in the program as well.  If some of our patrons are unfamiliar with RSS Feeds, we could have a section on our web page that explains how set them up and what they are good for.  We could even have our librarians and IT personnel do live demonstrations for those who learn visually.  Because we do not have a social media presence at this time, this would be a great first step into adopting some new PR 2.0 tools into our Library.

Bonus Round:  Things to Remember

Deidre Breakenridge Says: Your campaign requires a fine balance between traditional PR and social media tactics to reach your audiences (257).

Actions to Take: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!  There are some things that we are already doing to promote SRP that we need to keep doing.  The above suggestions should be thought of as additions to, not replacements for our SRP Marketing Strategy.

Thank you for reading!  Have you had any success employing the above mentioned tactics?  Do you think I am leaving something out?  Share, share share!  Thoughts and ideas are always welcome!

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