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.