Thursday, December 31, 2009

Don't Be Afraid to Try Something Completely Different This Year

I love January 1! It begins a new year full of possibilities and opportunities. All of the ideas we have been pondering throughout the year can come to fruition in our plans for the new year. That is what marketing is all about. Learning from our successes and failures, honing campaigns to reach more people, and trying new venues.

Try some of these ideas to strengthen your efforts in the new year:
  • Use your logo on EVERYTHING to promote awareness.
  • Look at your programs or services through the eyes of your patrons and clients. What is exciting or unique? Promote from that thought pattern.
  • Create a LinkedIn account to establish yourself professionally.
  • Read your local newspaper and once per quarter send an e-mail to a reporter complimenting him or her on a piece s/he wrote. Just like all of us, they don't hear enough positives.
  • Join your local Chamber and attend at least one event per month. Become recognizable in your community.
  • Offer to speak at local civic groups like Kiwanis, Rotary, Optimist, and others to get your message out and give back by educating your community.
  • For each program, service, or event, try one new marketing effort.
  • Sign up for a Twitter account and find five people to follow that inspire you. Start by checking the account every Tuesday and Thursday morning.
  • Conduct a survey with your patrons and ask how they would like to receive information: e-mail, snail mail, advertising, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Use the feedback for your next campaign and see if it makes a difference.
  • Have a social media lunch once per month. Meet with your co-workers, staff, and superiors to see what everyone is trying. What blogs are people following? Who are they following on Twitter? What are the tweens and teens talking about? Are any of these worthy of trying?
  • Remove 'this is how we've always done it' from your vocabulary. Make a penalty jar for anyone who says it in your office.
Marketing is so much fun. It allows us to be limitless in our creativity, to reach new people, and to discover a program or service all over again. This year, don't be afraid to try something completely different.

Have a fabulous new year!

Twitter: laurieboettcher

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Love Me Some Social Media

This holiday season I was blessed to be surrounded by family. It was even more special because a cousin, whom I simply adore, flew in for a snowy Wisconsin Christmas. My cousin is a very intelligent, accomplished, and apparently 'connected' twenty-something. While we were snacking, she was texting; while we were opening presents, she was posting pictures to Facebook as fast as she could take them; and while we were visiting, she was quoting dialogue on her Twitter.

Okay, now we all know that I love me some social media, but WHOA! This experience got me thinking. First and foremost, nothing can replace living in the moment. 

Second, social media is about connection. I have talked about this in many posts. Michelle Johnson, library director at Hammond Public Library, had a recent status update that read "Getting set to ring in the New Year with fresh ideas and new programs at the library and for the community." I know her, so I know that she probably is bursting with excitement for the programs her library has planned. It goes back to people building relationships with people. Show character in any of your correspondence to build that connection and make people want more.

Third, just like our posters, brochures, fliers, bookmarks, advertisements, commercials, interviews, etc., social media is just another tool. Each of our marketing tools is an attempt to reach a niche audience. Marketing is about balance - balancing the right tool with the right audience to achieve spectacular results.

Now, go love you some social media, too!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

To Tweet or Not to Tweet?

Twitter is hands-down the number one venue for microblogging. Its 140 character tweets allow tweeple quick access to messages from those they follow. The Twitter lexicon alone is too much fun. But why use it? Maybe you are on LinkedIn or have a Facebook Fan Page or even follow some blogs. (If you do any of those - YAY YOU!!!) So, why use Twitter, too?

I am a Twitterholic, well kind of. A person can only keep up on so much. I use Twitter for several reasons. Personally, it allows me to follow some of my favorite celebs. How else would I know what Stevie Nicks, Eddie Izzard, or Oprah are up to? Professionally, it allows me to send out short messages to my followers directing them to information that might benefit them. Blogs are awesome. If they weren't, I would not be doing this one. But, often times people do not have time to read blogs in their entirity. Tweets can be a quick plug for an event, reminder of a service, direction to a blog entry, thought-provoking comment, or whatever you want it to be. Twitter also allows me to follow some professionals I believe are on the cutting edge, which gives me access to their knowledge.

Have a Twitterific holiday season!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

What I've Learned From Libraries

The latest buzz on Twitter, what all of the social media gurus are talking about, is the need to be more authentic and human - how to deal with our patrons more personally. 

This seriously made me laugh out loud. One of the many, many things I have learned from working with the fabulous libraries in our System is that librarians don't get any more real or personable. Ya'all have that market cornered. 

Some library directors know more about their patrons than their doctors, shrinks, and pastors combined.  Every day, you fight for the rights of your community to have the access owed to them through their tax dollars. Access to all of the materials they could dream of, computers and wi-fi, research and reference materials that would cost anyone without a library card a ton of money, and fun and engaging programs.

So, although I will continue on my quest in encouraging you to grasp the reigns of social media and ride, your element of personalism cannot be denied or replaced. Keep this character on your Facebook Fan Page, in your Tweets, and all of your marketing materials. People build relationships with people.

I am leaving IFLS the end of January, but will continue to advocate for libraries and teach workshops here and there. Those of you who subscribe to my blog, I will continue to be a cheerleader for your efforts and hope to give you new and inspiring ideas.

Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Web Sites Are More Important Than Ever

With all of this talk of Web 2.0 and social media, what about our web sites? Chances are that you, too, have spent a lot of time, money, and resources developing and maintaining a web site presence. So, what happens to it now if we are suppose to be on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Flickr, YouTube, etc.?

Our web sites are actually more important than ever. Social media is a dialog. It gives our patrons a community to share ideas, promote programs and services, and build relationships with us. A web site is where they go for more information. Where they find the meat of who we are and the details they are seeking. Think of it as social media being the bait and the web site being the catch.

Once the catch is made and a patron visits our web site, it better serve his/her needs or the effort is lost. This is why web sites are more important than ever. Web sites need to be clean, clear, consistent, easily navigable, and current. And, don't even get me started on branding - making sure your image is properly portrayed. Anyone who has attended one of my workshops knows that is the foundation of all marketing efforts.

So, let's make sure our web sites are as cool, trendy, and current as our social media use so we don't lose the catch.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

One Size Does NOT Fit All

Last night I was reading Lisa Gerber's blog, The 26-Hour Day, and the topic of her latest post not only made me laugh, but she hit the nail on the head and really made me think. She wrote, "Social media has different challenges for those in small towns. It's like waiting for the party to start."

She's so right in so many aspects. Born, raised, and still living in small towns and rural communities, I know first-hand that we DO have different challenges. We're not as connected to the mainstream or taken by the madness. BUT, we have an advantage - by the time social media made it to us, the experts had worked out many of the kinks and the strongest social media venues had become evident.

Social media is not a craze, this really is a powerful new way of marketing. It is not, however, a one-size-fits-all guaranteed success. With each marketing campaign we do for an event, new program, new service, or whatever, we do our research, do our very best, and then hope our strategy was on track and works. Social media is no different. It's another tool in our belt that helps us reach our target audience. But, it only reaches that audience if we actually do it.

Set aside some time and play with some tools. See how colleagues and patrons are using social media, ask what site or blogs they visit, and try some of them out.

Check out Lisa Gerber's Blog, The 26-Hour Day, at:

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Do You Want the World to See?

Everyone, especially those leery of social media, talks about privacy concerns. As well we should be. When we post/publish something on a social media site, or anywhere on the web, we need to be prepared that this is now out there for all of the world to see. For this reason, it is crucial that we familiarize ourselves with the privacy policy on each social media site we participate.

Also, follow these simple guidelines:

• Never write something you wouldn't want your mother, pastor, best friend, or employer to see or read.
• Do not bad mouth your employer or employees. It is unprofessional and could cost you your job.
• Make sure you know and are comfortable with your privacy settings.
• Do not feel obligated to accept everyone as a friend, connection, or other. Share information with who YOU want to share.
• Remember that you have control of your online identity. It is a reflection of who you are personally and professionally. What are you portraying?


Thursday, December 3, 2009

LinkedIn for Job Recruiting

Jobvite announced earlier this year that 80% of companies they surveyed use or are planning to use social networking to find and attract job candidates this year. That is a startling statistic. "Additionally, recruitment and human resource professionals are using a variety of online sites to research candidates: LinkedIn (76%), search engines (67%), Facebook (44%), and Twitter (21%)."

Knowing this information and the fact that our libraries have become increasingly important job search tools for our communities in these economic times, doesn't this demonstrate the importance of us being more fluent in social media?

Giving a patron knowledge about creating a profile on LinkedIn could give them an advantage in their job search. How so? Respondents in the Jobvite survey reported that 24% of candidates disclose their social networking presence when applying for a job. Employers can see a more complete picture of a candidate's professional experience, education, community involvement, association membership, and even recommendations from former employers, co-workers, and clients. Hiring employees is expensive, so this is an invaluable tool for employers.

Don't have knowledge about LinkedIn yourself? Attend a workshop. Library Directors all over the country have profiles on LinkedIn. It is not just for job searchers; it allows you to create a professional profile about yourself to let your community, peers, and even your Board, know who you are.

Get LinkedIn today.

Special thanks to Jobvite.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

2010 Marketing Plans

As the year is winding down, we are prepping for a new year with (in some cases) significantly decreased budgets. I have been promoting social media long enough now that we know how and why it can help us reach target markets with the only cost being our time. But how are we incorporating social media into our 2010 marketing plans?

Don't break my holiday spirit and tell me you forgot.

IFLS is offering helpful social media workshops in 2010 that will help alleviate any fears we may have. In January, I am presenting a Facebook Fan Pages for Libraries workshop along with four Social Media 101 workshops for patrons at various System libraries. In October, Leah has booked library icon DAVID LEE KING! I could seriously not be more excited about meeting him and attending his workshop. It is a 'do not miss' opportunity.

Let's include social media in our 2010 marketing plans so we can usher in a new era and communicate with our patrons on a medium they use and appreciate.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Say What?

If you were accidentally kidnapped and taken to the planet Marshmallow because of an evil scheme to take over the world devised by a talking starfish and asked to shave your head, dance the macarena, and then recite the Pledge of Allegiance in pig Latin while competing in Dance Dance Revolution to a song by Miley Cyrus that was written by a guy whose mom was in love with Kirk Cameron in the 80s and whose best friend won an Oscar for best make-up artist, would you want Coke or Pepsi to drink?

Um, did you get that?

Probably not. And this is the confusion our patrons feel when we use library lingo. Being a non-librarian, I often smile at my co-workers and say, "Um, I have no idea what you just said." They appreciate that I represent the average patron, so they take the time to explain - after they tease me.

Databases, cataloging, circ desks, marc tags, OPAC, bibliographic records, and holds. Ouch!!! That makes my brain hurt. I'm not afraid to ask for clarification, but what if our patrons are intimidated or afraid to ask?

Our library is a service to our community. To get our patrons more engaged in their library, let's avoid requiring them to see things in librarian terms, but rather shape our lingo to their understanding.

See how any times today you can catch yourself or your co-workers using library lingo.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A Librarian's 2.0 Manifesto

Becky Arenivar, Programming Specialist at Prescott Public Library, sent me a link to an inspiring article that I simply had to share. Laura Cohen wrote this three years ago before retiring, but the content remains relevant and rings true.

A Librarian's 2.0 Manifesto
  • I will recognize that the universe of information culture is changing fast and that libraries need to respond positively to these changes to provide resources and services that users need and want.
  • I will educate myself about the information culture of my users and look for ways to incorporate what I learn into library services.
  • I will not be defensive about my library, but will look clearly at its situation and make an honest assessment about what can be accomplished.
  • I will become an active participant in moving my library forward.
  • I will recognize that libraries change slowly, and will work with my colleagues to expedite our responsiveness to change.
  • I will be courageous about proposing new services and new ways of providing services, even though some of my colleagues will be resistant.
  • I will enjoy the excitement and fun of positive change and will convey this to colleagues and users.
  • I will let go of previous practices if there is a better way to do things now, even if these practices once seemed so great.
  • I will take an experimental approach to change and be willing to make mistakes.
  • I will not wait until something is perfect before I release it, and I'll modify it based on user feedback.
  • I will not fear Google or related services, but rather will take advantage of these services to benefit users while also providing excellent library services that users need.
  • I will avoid requiring users to see things in librarians' terms but rather will shape services to reflect users' preferences and expectations.
  • I will be willing to go where users are, both online and in physical spaces, to practice my profession.
  • I will create open Web sites that allow users to join with librarians to contribute content in order to enhance their learning experience and provide assistance to their peers.
  • I will lobby for an open catalog that provides personalized, interactive features that users expect in online information environments.
  • I will encourage my library's administration to blog.
  • I will validate, through my actions, librarians' vital and relevant professional role in any type of information culture that evolves.
Special thanks to Laura Cohen.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Social Media Marketing Can't Help Us

Nope, social media marketing can't help us:
  • if we avoid it and say, "but this is the way we've always done things." Municipalities have always balanced budgets by cutting services. Do we like that? Or are there other options?
  • if we don't use it.
  • if we refuse to ask our patrons and customers how they would like to get information about programs and services.
  • if we don't realize that 90% of teens do not open e-mail - they text or use social media.
  • if we don't give our patrons and customers an online community to advocate for us.
  • if we allow ourselves to get overwhelmed.
  • if we don't ask for help.
  • if we don't experiment and try new things.
Budgets are being cut and we need to increasingly depend on whatever free venues are available to us. Next to word-of-mouth advertising, social media marketing is arguably the best free venue. Start out small. Create a profile for yourself on LinkedIn or create a Facebook page for yourself or sign up for a Twitter account. These three are keys for us right now. Don't spend a lot of time on it, but take a look for now.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Patron Workshops

Are your patrons interested in social media? They are powerful tools that can keep us connected with long-distance friends and relatives, networked in professional circles, up-to-date on our favorite celebrity news, and so much more.

If your patrons are interested, contact me about doing a one-hour workshop on:
• Social Media 101
• LinkedIn for Job Searchers
• LinkedIn for Employers
• Facebook for Beginners
• Twitter Basics

The goal is to get attendees comfortable using these tools and confident in navigating this online experience.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Do They Know?

As IFLS public libraries, we know we offer over 1.5 million items available for check out including books, audiobooks, music, and movies. We know we offer excellent job resources. We know we offer unique children's activities. We know we offer video gaming events and equipment. We know we offer access to cutting-edge research and reference programs available from anywhere with a library card. We know we offer wi-fi and computers. We know we offer stimulating book clubs.

But, do they know? Do our patrons REALLY know all of what we have to offer?

With some of our rural libraries having a budget of less than $50,000 (and that includes the director's salary), how do we effectively get the word out so our patrons and communities can take advantage of these programs?
  • Create (or have IFLS create) exciting posters to distribute around the community.
  • Save a promo as the wallpaper on library computers.
  • Post it on your web site.
  • Announce it on your Facebook Fan Page.
  • Have a library staff member make an announcement at the beginning of book clubs and other library events.
  • Send out a tweet.
  • Speak at local civic groups.
  • Get involved in your local Chamber.
  • Coordinate with a local school or college to make a promotion available as an extra credit or service learning project.
  • Inspire the Friends Group to get out the word.
With limited time and resources, we may not be able to do all of these, but how about we try a couple for starters?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

An Excellent Job Resource

People are increasingly flocking to public libraries for job search resources. LinkedIn is an amazingly powerful tool you can direct your patrons to that could dramatically change their career outlooks.

With over 50 million users in 200 countries, LinkedIn is the most powerful business networking site on the planet. Unlike Facebook or MySpace, members join LinkedIn for business, not social. Members create pseudo online resumes highlighting the skills they can bring to an employer; gather recommendations from co-workers, employers, and clients; build professional rolodexes; join online groups to stay on the pulse of their industries; and have the ability to research potential employer profiles prior to interviewing.

Human resource managers and recruiters are increasingly using LinkedIn as a valuable means of evaluating job candidates. It gives them the opportunity to see a larger picture of a job candidate's character, interests, experience, and community involvement. Many are even requesting LinkedIn profile addresses on resumes.

According to Richard Bolles, author of What Color is Your Parachute, internet and newspapers garner a 1-26% success rate in job searching, while networking yields a 50-86% success rate. Arm your patrons with this powerful tool and give them the edge employers are seeking!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

What if a reporter calls?

If the media picks up a news release or story pitched to them, CONGRATULATIONS! You are being blessed with free publicity. Do not be afraid to interact with reporters and always make yourself available.

Here are some tips to help you get ready for and respond to a reporter's questions. REMEMBER: You can always contact me
for help.

First Things First
  • Write down the reporter's name, where they are from, phone number, and story deadline.
  • Ask what s/he is doing a piece about.
  • If it is TV or radio, ask if the interview will be live or taped.
  • Determine who the appropriate person is to answer questions on the topic.
  • If you are the appropriate person but are not prepared to talk, simply ask if you can call back at a specific time, but respect the reporter's deadline. Even 15 minutes will give you time to get ready.
  • If you are not the appropriate person, assign an available expert who will positively reflect the library and then help him/her prepare.
  • Remember that reporters' schedules are determined by "breaking" news. Do not be offended or snide if an interview gets canceled or rescheduled because a more urgent story arises.

Get Prepared

  • Jot down a few notes on the topic you want to be sure to get across. Do not write sentences, just bullet points.
  • Avoid library jargon; use lay terms.
  • Make sure your points are clear and to-the-point.
  • Be prepared to support your message with brief examples and facts.
  • Keep in mind what your patrons need/want to know and how the topic will impact them.
  • Practice.

And, We're Live!

  • Know that everything you say is on the record, from the time you meet or talk with the reporter until s/he leaves the room or hangs up. There is no such thing as off-the-record.
  • Respond to the reporter's questions with confidence and enthusiasm. You may be someone's first impression of the library, so make it the best possible.
  • Start with the basics. Offer a brief background on the subject if the reporter appears to need it.
  • Be brief! Reporters are looking for a sound bites and short clever quotes. Television and radio may use only a 10-20 second cut of your entire interview. The shorter your comments, the less likely they are to be taken out of context.
  • Keep the interview positive, even if the subject is negative or the reporter's questions turn negative.
  • If the reporter's questions veer off track, politely steer the interview back to your message. Stick to your main points and do not allow yourself to get drawn off on tangents. Repeat your point(s) if necessary to get back on track and don't talk too much.
  • Repose the questions in your responses. The reporter's questions may be edited out and your responses should stand on their own.
  • If you do not understand a question, ask for clarification. If you do not have the answer, say so. Tell the reporter where to find the information, or offer to get back to them with the answer.
  • Never say, "no comment." If you cannot or do not choose to answer a question, explain briefly. For example, "It is our policy not to discuss lawsuits currently in litigation" or "I can't answer that because I haven't seen the research paper you are referring to."
  • If the reporter runs out of questions or does not know what to ask, steer. Talk about the story topic in terms like "many people ask . . ." or "our readers most like to . . ." or "we get in excess of 100 attendees when we . . . " or "blank really attracts kids in our community." Build a relationship with the reporter by making them feel in control.
  • If you are not sure the reporter understood some of your point, ask him/her if they have any follow-up questions.

Extra Tidbits

  • For television interviews, wear solid color clothing. Stripes, plaids, or other designs can cause problems with color TV pictures. Avoid large, jangling, or reflective jewelry.
  • Look in a mirror, if possible, just before going on camera. The reporter will not tell you that your collar is folded over or your hair is out of place.
  • Choose a quiet location with an attractive motif. Hold your calls and turn off your computer. Avoid rooms with loud background hums from air conditioning or heating units.
  • If you agreed to a live interview, make sure you have practiced thinking on your feet.
  • Do not answer questions too quickly; pause briefly before answering. This helps the reporter get a "clean" sound bite and also has the added benefit of allowing you time to think out your answer.
  • In a TV interview, look at the reporter, not the camera.
  • Stand or sit still during radio or TVs interviews to control volume and noise pollution.


  • Contact the reporter to thank him/her for taking the time to cover the story and for supporting the public/community library.
  • Ask when the story will appear/air. The reporter may not have an answer, but if s/he does s/he'll be happy to tell you.
  • Offer to do a 'fact check'. It is unethical to ask a reporter to share his/her story before publication, but if you offer to check facts, it gives the reporter an extra set of eyes to gain them maximum credibility.

After the Story

  • Give positive feedback to reporters, if merited, after a story appears. Like the rest of us, they usually hear only complaints and rarely get a call or note to say they have done a good job.
  • If an error appears, let the reporter know right away. Sometimes a correction can be printed or aired. You also will want to prevent the incorrect information from being used as background for future stories.
  • If you are unhappy with a story, share your concerns with the reporter first. Contacting his/her editor is a last resort.
These are just a few of the tips that I use and have found on the internet to help make sure your media experience a success.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Facebook Fan Pages Are Not For Us

That's right, Facebook Fan Pages are not for us - they are for our patrons. Fan pages give our patrons an outlet to talk about their libraries. Fans can post comments about books they are reading and start discussions. They can encourage others to attend programs and be part of libraries' initiatives. We give THEM the opportunity to interact with other patrons and love their libraries even more.

Okay, so I lied. There is something in it for us. Facebook Fan Pages give us a quick, simple, and FREE way to send messages to our fans to let them know about upcoming events at their libraries. Also, with Facebook Fan Pages we can find out what our patrons are saying about us. If your patrons don't like something, don't you want to know instead of losing them? If they are raving about an experience, don't you want to use it to let your board know about the positive feedback? Getting in tune allows us to provide even better programs and services because we are reading first-hand what our patrons want.

Don't think you have time to set up the page? Offer it as a volunteer opportunity for high school teens. It's great resume-building material! Or, if you are near a college, offer it as a service-learning project.

Join the IFLS libraries who are already experiencing the benefits of Facebook Fan Pages like Boyceville Public Library, Cadott Community Library, Carelton A. Friday Memorial Library of New Richmond, Clarella Hackett Johnson Public Library of Sand Creek, Colfax Public Library, Eau Claire Public Library, Fall Creek Public Library, Hammond Community Library, Luck Public Library, Prescott Public Library, and Rice Lake Public Library. Oh, and don't forget about our IFLS Fan Page!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Didn't You Know?

One of my favorite library directors, Leslie LaRose, from Augusta Public Library stopped in the other day. She talked to me about wanting to empower and inspire her Friends Group with an ambitious fundraising campaign they will be embarking upon. Leslie asked me if I would consider doing a presentation to her friends group about Publicity 101 with some extra motivational kick and brainstorming. My response? "Of course!"

This is part of my job here at IFLS - one of my favorite parts - to give you the tools you need to succeed in your library's public relations and marketing efforts. This includes speaking engagements, PowerPoint presentations, handouts, and whatever else we determine will work for you.

Please know that I, as well as all of the other staff here at IFLS, are here for you.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Come on Already with the Social Media

I know, I know, social media seems to be just another task to add to our mounting workloads. But, here is the secret - the important aspect we need to know - social media gives OUR patrons, OUR advocates, OUR fans, OUR community, a voice and a venue to talk about their library.

To make social media work for our libraries, it is important we have presence. Just like the library itself is evolving, so do marketing strategies and technologies. Although libraries are the cornerstones of communities, we still need to market, to get the word out, and to build support. Social media is a FREE and convenient way to market our library programs and services to a major demographic. You may be surprised to learn that the 35-54 year old segment is the fastest growing demographic on Facebook. And, per the Pew Research Center, the fastest Internet user demographic is the 70 year old and up crowd! We need to be where our patrons are.

So, let's say you set up a fan page on Facebook like Rice Lake Public Library or Cadott Public Library has done or a blog like Colfax Public Library or Hammond Community Library. This allows patrons and community members to get news about upcoming events on a medium they use throughout their day. People can also post comments about books they have read and start discussions. We give them the opportunity to interact with other patrons and love their library even more.

What about us? With social media we are given the invaluable gift of learning what our patrons and communities are saying about us. Getting in tune allows us to provide even better programs and services because we are reading first-hand what our patrons want. PLUS we get the added benefit of having our patrons market for us! When a recommendation comes from a trusted family member, friend, or colleague, people are more likely to check it out. This is what social media does - it allows our fans to an arena to talk about the things they love, like the library.

Don't get overwhelmed. Social media can be done in baby steps. Post a comment below or e-mail me to let me know what aspects of social media you are interested in so I can help.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Are YOU LinkedIn?

LinkedIn® is a professional business-oriented online network launched in 2003. It is kind of like a Facebook for professionals, but honestly the most powerful social web site for business. LinkedIn can be used by organizations of all sizes and it requires very little social media know-how. With over 20 million users, many public library directors and even all 500 of the Fortune 500 are on LinkedIn.

Remember the old saying, “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know”? LinkedIn encompasses this philosophy. That community member or board member who is anti-library? Well, maybe we have a friend in common that will allow us to break down barriers and start a conversation. Plus, have you ever Googled your name and found something unflattering or maybe there is simply NO information about you? LinkedIn gives us control of our online identities, it allows us to create credibility for ourselves and our libraries, and it gives our libraries another connection to our business communities and leaders

The first step is to set up a free profile (see mine) that summarizes our professional expertise and accomplishments, as well as our education. Once we have a profile, we create connections. When we find fellow professionals we know and respect, we ask to add them to our network. This creates a web of connections with a world of relationship possibilities. We can research people who are going to be at upcoming meetings, ask our friends to introduce us to someone we see is their connection, and do background checks on prospective employees.

Another benefit of LinkedIn is that it is low maintenance. Once we set up our profiles, we simply use it as a resource to manage our connections. All our connections' information is current and up-to-date, so we know how to contact them. Set up an account and check it out!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Connect @ Your Chamber

Many of you participated in the opal Advocacy workshop John Thompson and I co-hosted last fall. Among other topics in that workshop, we talked about the many important reasons there are to be active and involved in your local Chamber of Commerce.

First and foremost, a community is only as strong as its leaders. The Chamber is where community leaders and decision-makers network, gather information, and form opinions. Creating a relationship with these influential people makes our libraries more real and, in turn, they are more apt to be patrons and advocates. Showing up at events, introducing ourselves, getting involved - even if it is only a little- allows us to be leaders, too. When fellow members see our face, we want them to say, "Hey, there is our librarian Mary. She sure is nice. I saw her at a Chamber event the other day and I couldn't believe all of the programs they've got going on at the library! I took my kid there on Sunday." There. Not only did we encourage patronage, we have started a library buzz.

Second, the Chamber provides a collective voice to and with our elected officials. We need to be a part of making decisions that affect our libraries. Be present to help committees make informed decisions. Don't forget to be supportive of other community programs and services that could become great partners.

Last, but certainly not least, Chamber involvement is an excellent platform to promote our fabulous programs and services. These professionals, and their families, are valuable patrons. Word of mouth remains the best form of advertising, and what better place to start than from the mouth of an enthusiastic library director!

I am very proud to be actively involved in the Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce as an Annual Meeting Committee Member, Leadership Eau Claire Curriculum Committee Member, and Media Day Co-Chair. Each meeting and event gives me an opportunity to be an advocate for our libraries. Whether it is talking about the increasing demands on libraries within dwindling budgets or the latest bestseller, it is an opportunity to bring awareness and start the conversation. Lead it.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Intro to Blogging

Welcome to the Indianhead Federated Library System (IFLS) Public Relations blog. Thank you for joining me. To stay abreast of all postings, please sign up as a Follower in the navigation panel to the right.

We all know that social media is no longer an emerging trend; it is here, ready and waiting for us to utilize it. Many libraries in our System have expressed interest in following the example of Colfax Public Library in creating their own blogs. Many other libraries are still questioning the benefits of blogging, as we should with any social medium.

Although there is an initial time investment in setting up a blog, as well as the time it takes to do posts, there is no cost except time. Blogging is an excellent public relations tool that has the potential to strengthen your library's image, reach a new audience niche, position your library as 'on the cutting edge,' create credibility for you as a library director, generate interest within your community, and improve your search engine optimization, all while marketing your library's unique and beneficial programs and services.

If you are an IFLS member library and are interested in creating a blog for your library, please post a comment. I am entertaining the possibility of doing a morning 'workshop' with a limited number of participants to help you get your blogs started.