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Managing $upport: A New Approach to Library PR & Marketing   -0-

Managing $upport: A New Approach to Library PR & Marketing   -0-


Managing $upport: A New Approach to Library PR & Marketing   -1-

                        Douglas County Libraries: A Ca...
Managing $upport: A New Approach to Library PR & Marketing   -2-

       In 2008, the library district tried again with ...
Managing $upport: A New Approach to Library PR & Marketing   -3-

use, but not funding and financial support (DeRosa/OCL...
Managing $upport: A New Approach to Library PR & Marketing   -4-

   •   Remembers that Super and Probable Supporters re...
Managing $upport: A New Approach to Library PR & Marketing   -5-

library, and the continued effort to find and build an...
Managing $upport: A New Approach to Library PR & Marketing   -6-

Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) technique would...
Managing $upport: A New Approach to Library PR & Marketing   -7-

       The manager should also make sure they are pers...
Managing $upport: A New Approach to Library PR & Marketing   -8-

means any library staffer for most folks) as passionat...
Managing $upport: A New Approach to Library PR & Marketing   -9-

can accommodate the needed change? Are our libraries p...
Managing $upport: A New Approach to Library PR & Marketing   - 10 -

partnership of governments, sending librarians out ...
Managing $upport: A New Approach to Library PR & Marketing   - 11 -

Managing $upport: A New Approach to Library PR & Marketing   - 12 -

Appendix I

Managing $upport: A New Approach to Library PR & Marketing   - 13 -

Appendix II

Managing $upport: A New Approach to Library PR & Marketing   - 14 -

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850 Managing&Marketing Library Support Ea Walker


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850 Managing&Marketing Library Support Ea Walker

  1. 1. Managing $upport: A New Approach to Library PR & Marketing -0- Running Head: MANAGING $UPPORT: A NEW APPROACH TO LIBRARY PR & MARKETING Managing $upport: A New Approach to Library PR & Marketing Elizabeth Aspen Walker Emporia State University, School of Library & Information Science Professor Chapman November, 2008 E.A. Walker, 11/08
  2. 2. Managing $upport: A New Approach to Library PR & Marketing -0- Abstract OCLC’s new report, From Awareness to Funding demonstrates a new trend in library PR and marketing: U.S. public libraries need to expand their messaging to include and encourage library support and funding. This piece looks at the marketing implications of the report; applies the findings to four managerial categories essential to managing this trend (managing ourselves, leading others and groups, organizational awareness/behavior, and community building and collaboration); and provides examples of the From Awareness to Funding-inspired approach to managing PR and marketing that is being developed at Douglas County Libraries (Colorado). E.A. Walker, 11/08
  3. 3. Managing $upport: A New Approach to Library PR & Marketing -1- Douglas County Libraries: A Case in Point Library use is booming at Douglas County Libraries, an independent mill-levy funded public library district serving just under 300,000 residents in Douglas County, Colorado. 80% of all households in Douglas County have -and regularly use- at least one library card. From 2003- 2007, library visits climbed 65%, circulation jumped 74%, and Douglas County Libraries (the state’s fourth largest library system) checked out more children’s books than any other public library system in Colorado (LaRue, 2008). It has become satisfyingly clear that the library district’s efforts to increase library use by investing in public relations and marketing are paying off in the form of well-used libraries. This success is accompanied by a challenge: Douglas County Libraries hasn’t had a funding increase since 1996. From the early 1990s through the early 2000s, Douglas County consistently ranked as one of the ten fastest-growing counties in the United States (Johnston, 2005). Now property values are leveling off, new growth taxes have dried up, and revenues are slowing. All the while, library use continues to soar. The district is not able to build large enough libraries to meet demand in all of the county’s service areas. Simply put: the library district’s revenues are not keeping pace with the booming demands on the library system. In 2007, the library board determined it was time for a mill levy increase campaign. Phone polls indicated 64% approval for a 1.5 mill increase, and library administration felt confident that most of the 80% of library card holders in the community would vote for the modest increase in library funding. But on Election Day, the results were distressing: the ballot measure lost by 210 votes, or by 51% to 49%. Only 34% of the voting populace bothered to cast a vote for or against the library initiative. After the election, many library users said they assumed the measure would win, so they did not bother to hit the polls. E.A. Walker, 11/08
  4. 4. Managing $upport: A New Approach to Library PR & Marketing -2- In 2008, the library district tried again with high hopes, a new and energized group of community grassroots supporters, and an even more modest mill levy ballot proposal. Only 47% of the voters approved, and the measure went down again. On Election Day ‘08, Douglas County Libraries learned conclusively that library use does not necessarily equate to a willingness to vote for increased library funding. The library district’s marketing and public relations efforts hadn’t gone far enough. In mid-2008, a new report from OCLC called From Awareness to Funding confirmed the lesson and established a trend in the field of public libraries: it’s time to expand our PR and marketing efforts to include and encourage library support and funding. So how does a manager prepare to ride this trend, make this kind of marketing shift and ultimately, effect the public’s perception, so they are more willing to provide financial support to their local library? This piece looks briefly at the results and recommendations from the OCLC report that most directly impact the library PR and marketing trend, and then applies the findings to four skills/managerial categories essential to managing this trend: managing ourselves, leading others and groups, organizational awareness/behavior, and community building and collaboration. The discussion will be tied into the From Awareness to Funding-inspired approach to managing a new era of marketing and PR efforts currently underway at Douglas County Libraries. The OCLC Report The entire report is a recommended read for public library managers. This paper focuses on the parts of the report that most directly impact library marketing and PR. From Awareness to Funding echoes some of the same themes Douglas County Libraries encountered: public library visits and circulation are up across the United States, funding is not keeping pace with the demand on library services, mill levy issues are failing in greater number across the entire country, and the majority of library PR and marketing efforts have focused on E.A. Walker, 11/08
  5. 5. Managing $upport: A New Approach to Library PR & Marketing -3- use, but not funding and financial support (DeRosa/OCLC, 2008, p. viii). The study was conducted with the hypothesis that, “Utilizing marketing and advocacy techniques targeted to the right community segments with the right messages and community programs, we can improve the state of public library funding” (DeRosa/OCLC, 2008, p. viii). The report reveals several key findings that are related to the PR and Marketing trend towards building support: • There is a lot people don’t know much about their public library. • When you advocate library support to your patrons, you may be targeting the wrong audience. Library funding support is only marginally related to library visitation. • Targeting marketing messages to the right segments of the voting public is key to driving increased support for U.S. public libraries. These “right” segments include Probable and Super Supporters. • Perceptions of librarians are an important predictor of library funding support. • Voters who see the library as a 'transformational' force as opposed to an 'informational' source are more likely to increase taxes in its support. People view the library as a provider of practical answers and information. In the Google™ era, this is a crowded space; we must reposition our brand to demonstrate our transformative potential and remain relevant in today’s information landscape. • Elected officials are supportive of the library, but not fully committed to increased funding. We must engage Probable Supporters and Super Supporters to succeed. (DeRosa/OCLC, 2008) According to the report, we need to create a public library support brand and marketing campaign that targets our Probable and Super Supporters, and: • Makes the library relevant for the 21st century. • Increases awareness about how libraries are funded, and the financial strain and shortfalls public libraries are facing. • Instills a sense of urgency by putting the library in the consideration for local funding with other public services, like police, parks and fire. • Activates a conversation about how the library is a vital part of the community’s infrastructure and future. • Focuses on equal access and the important truth that U.S. public libraries provide equal access to valuable information resources for all residents. • Promotes the shared community values that are unique to the public library structure, including shared community assets, respect for the community, and self-reliance. E.A. Walker, 11/08
  6. 6. Managing $upport: A New Approach to Library PR & Marketing -4- • Remembers that Super and Probable Supporters resonate with the idea that libraries provide a “sacred place” where they can enjoy quiet, order, freedom, safety and social bonding. • Points out how a great library can impact the community’s stature. • Repositions the library so the community sees us as: as a source of transformation (rather than just information); part of the community infrastructure (rather than a traditional institution that may not be so relevant today); a necessity (rather than “nice to have”); about the future (instead of primarily the past); a big Return of Investment/ROI for individuals, families and the entire community (rather than something vaguely altruistic). (DeRosa/OCLC, 2008, pp. 1-8; 6-4 – 6-12) So who are these Probable and Super Supporters? DeRosa and the OCLC crew found that these key supporters are: • Involved in the community. • Recognize the library’s importance to recognize the library’s importance to the community and to a child’s education. • Are not always heavy users of the library, but believe the library is a noble place, that’s important and relevant to the community. • Recognize the value of a ‘passionate librarian’ as a true advocate for lifelong learning. • See the library as a vital community resource like public schools, fire and police, and are willing to increase their taxes to support the library. (DeRosa/OCLC, 2008, p. 7-4) DeRosa wraps up the report by declaring, “To thrive tomorrow, libraries must translate belief into awareness, and awareness into action” (DeRosa, 2008, p. 7-5). At Douglas County Libraries, and public libraries across the U.S., that charge is being incorporated in strategic, long-range planning, especially when it comes to PR and marketing. The OCLC report came out shortly before Douglas County Libraries placed their second mill levy increase attempt on the ballot. While the library district was able to start integrating many of the marketing and PR messages advocated in DeRosa’s report, the report came too late for creating real change. The library district has plans to continue their marketing efforts aimed at library use and awareness, but it won’t end there. A new PR and marketing campaign is in the works; it will focus on generating library support and funding, using the report’s messaging suggestions. Highlights include a “library stories” campaign that showcases the transformative benefits of the public E.A. Walker, 11/08
  7. 7. Managing $upport: A New Approach to Library PR & Marketing -5- library, and the continued effort to find and build an informed, passionate and vocal base of library supporters who will share their transformative library stories, and promote the importance of the library and increased funding throughout Douglas County. There’s a big lesson here: library funding campaigns cannot begin a few short months before Election Day any more. We need to be campaigning all the time. How? Library managers can lead change and ride this PR and marketing trend, and begin to capitalize on the findings of From Awareness to Funding by focusing on four important managerial skills or categories: managing ourselves, leading others and groups, organizational awareness/behavior, and community building and collaboration. A resource guide is provided at the end of this piece; it provides a list of the many titles and resources I have personally found to be of help. The guide also matches the four managerial categories with a broader list of skills and concerns related to managing this trend. Managing Ourselves The three other management skills rely on the first: our ability to skillfully manage ourselves. After all, how can we hope to make strides with and lead others, the organizations we administer, and our community, if we don’t have a handle on the one thing any one individual can directly manage: ourselves? We must ascertain that we are personally prepared to respond to the kind of library PR and marketing changes revealed and advocated in From Awareness to Funding. This will require a good look in the mirror; self inventory, and a dedicated practice of lifelong, self-directed learning. While we may have completed our formal schooling, the learning cannot end there. Goleman and Boyatzis’ groundbreaking work in emotional intelligence and leadership offers a roadmap to this process of lifelong learning (see Appendix I). Boyatzis reminds us to assess our strengths and weaknesses. Rath’s Strengths Finders 2.0 and Olson and Singer’s work in assessing leadership skills and practices and the SWOT (Strengths, E.A. Walker, 11/08
  8. 8. Managing $upport: A New Approach to Library PR & Marketing -6- Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) technique would provide a good starting point. Similarly, Boyatzis reminds us that we need to develop trusting relationships in order to gain the benefit of advice, support and feedback. Managers should seek out a support system of trusted colleagues, opinionated library staff/patrons/supporters, and possibly a mentor. After assessing our personal strengths and weaknesses, we should make sure we have the tools we need to manage and lead the change we are trying to achieve with others, throughout our organization, and in our community. Goleman’s Primal Leadership: Learning to Lead with Emotional Intelligence provides many tools for the manager who needs to carry forth the vision of the new marketing plan and make sure all the pieces fall into place. The book also takes a long look at the personal/self-oriented competencies of emotionally-intelligent leadership (self- awareness and self-management), and preps managers in the art of coaching employees and community members throughout the process of rallying support. Likewise, managers should check out Kotter’s Leading Change; the book provides a clever and concise approach to planning for, communicating about, and implementing change. Our focus on lifelong, self-directed learning in regards to the self-management skill and the support marketing trend requires an in-depth reading regimen. Managers must become thoroughly acquainted with the OCLC report and the associated “Turning the Page” resources produced by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. They will also need to take a good look at the ever-growing body of work about library marketing. Similarly, managers should keep an eye on other library’s support marketing campaigns, and borrow their successful ideas. Our gaze should not fall on libraries alone. Managers, in their effort to bolster their strengths and skills, should research outside of the library literature and look at the marketing field itself, monitor trend-watching sites, and learn more about the art of formal and grassroots campaigning. E.A. Walker, 11/08
  9. 9. Managing $upport: A New Approach to Library PR & Marketing -7- The manager should also make sure they are personally knowledgeable about their library’s growth statistics and financing, or in close cahoots with someone who is. They should keep tabs on what’s happening at libraries across the country; these numbers can be used in the messaging. Additionally, the manager should seek out information about the library’s return on investment (ROI); the Library Research Service provides free access to this kind of information. Because our new marketing messages and brand need to convey the transformative qualities of libraries, while engaging community supporters, library managers should draw on what many librarians already do really well: storytelling, statistical tracking, repackaging information for specific audiences, education, public speaking and community networking and building. In addition to the county-wide storytelling campaign and community supporter development project, Douglas County Libraries is taking note of the OCLC report’s recommendations to incorporate community ROI in its messaging. In its initial stages, this project includes a personal ROI calculator on the district’s website that demonstrates how much you can save by using the library (Douglas County Libraries, 2008) Leading Others and Groups The library manager working on this PR and marketing support trend will have ample opportunity to test their skills in managing and leading others and groups. There’s much work to do at a group level, including community analysis, developing marketing plans, communication of the vision and plan, and coaching folks through the sometimes scary challenges of changing business as we know it. The biggest challenge may well be getting the entire staff on board for this wide-ranging project. In order for this new approach to marketing to work, the entire staff will need to be a part of the marketing campaign, not just the department of community relations/public relations/communications. We must remember that a big part of the OCLC report’s message revolves around the community seeing our librarians (remember that “librarian” E.A. Walker, 11/08
  10. 10. Managing $upport: A New Approach to Library PR & Marketing -8- means any library staffer for most folks) as passionate good Samaritans who make a difference in the community. A few posters or press releases will not cut it, the community needs to see the staff transforming lives, and hear them discussing the library’s services and challenges. The wise manager will apply Kotter’s eight stage process of creating major change, as well as Goleman’s emotionally-intelligent social competencies, so the OCLC findings and new marketing plan can take root throughout the organization. In addition to acquiring the personal skills in change management and honing one’s social competencies as discussed above, the manager should anticipate the need for group facilitation, team building, and training. The manager will be required to work with groups throughout this process; skills in facilitating and navigating group conversations will come in handy. Kotter reminds us of the importance of team-building; the manager will want to make sure they put together and nourish the right team as they forge ahead with their marketing campaign. Rath’s Strengths Finder 2.0 may be of use when it comes to putting strong and diverse teams that encompass many congruous skills and strengths. Because this trend requires all-staff participation, staff throughout the organization will require training in some of the same issues the manager addressed when they looked at managing themselves: an education in the report findings, the library district’s challenges, and ROI; public speaking and storytelling skills; and networking and community building. If the staff is well-trained, the entire organization will be better-prepared to address our trend. Organizational Development The previous category is intimately tied to our next managerial skill: organizational development. Just as we learned that all staff will need to be involved in our library marketing trend and plan, we need to ensure our organizations are ready for, and compatible with, the change we are trying to create. Is our mission on target? Are things set up so the organization E.A. Walker, 11/08
  11. 11. Managing $upport: A New Approach to Library PR & Marketing -9- can accommodate the needed change? Are our libraries poised to demonstrate we are relevant in the 21st century, and that we truly are a transformative force in our communities that deserves support and funding? Managers looking to ride the library support marketing trend should make certain they are well-versed in organizational development and theory. After our second mill levy loss in as many years, Douglas County Libraries has recognized the need for the “ongoing campaign” that includes a support-based marketing plan, as well as organizationally-minded plans to revisit the district’s mission, vision, strategic and long range planning, work plans, budgeting, services, training, benchmarking, staffing and more. In other words, we’ve learned that this trend towards building library support needs to happen throughout the organization, which means it’s time to take a good look at the organization itself. In terms of marketing and PR, there’s another thing managers can do at the organizational level: keep track of and use all the tools and locations that can be used for unified support messaging across your entire organization (see Appendix II). This could include newsletters and calendars, online mediums, the bottoms of your checkout receipts, announcements at storytime, posters in the bathroom stalls… your list will be lengthy if you take the time to think of your entire organization, and ask other staffers about their ideas. Community Building and Collaboration Given the community focus in the OCLC report, community building and collaboration is an important managerial skill to harness. As we prepare to ride this marketing and PR trend towards support, we must be primed to find Super and Probable Supporters in our community, and build a community that believes in the necessity of libraries. In addition to the new phase of marketing, and the organizational improvement, Douglas County Libraries numbers community building and collaboration in its toolkit of long-term campaign strategy. The district will continue to make a place for itself at the community table by participating in a county-wide E.A. Walker, 11/08
  12. 12. Managing $upport: A New Approach to Library PR & Marketing - 10 - partnership of governments, sending librarians out of the building to answer “the community reference question” (LaRue, 2007, p. 93) and increase awareness about the library district’s services and financial struggles, and the ongoing creation of a base of community library supporters who want to help us increase funding. In this case, relationship management, long of interest to library Foundations and Friends groups, will be an important aspect of the community management skill. Conclusions S.R. Ranganathan, the famed philosopher of librarianship, famously wrote, “Libraries are a growing organism” (Ranganathan, 1957). His comparison is apt- libraries and library management are complex undertakings, requiring our ability to see the big picture, while still remembering all of the details. Management necessitates the understanding that all aspects of our organizations are interconnected and ever-changing. Marketing and PR (and our ability to drum up financial support) are impacted by and thoroughly connected to public finance, HR, facilities, customer service, policy, and more. Similarly, our identified management skills all hinge on one other- you’re going to have trouble rallying your community if you can’t make headway with the staff, the organization, or yourself. The OCLC report and spate of failed library mill levies and slashed library budgets across the nation should also remind us of the fundamental fact that our library “organisms” require financial support in order to flourish. In order ride this trend, we must take a passionate, thoughtful and diligent role in leading ourselves, others, the organization, and the community through the changes recommended by the From Awareness to Funding report. E.A. Walker, 11/08
  13. 13. Managing $upport: A New Approach to Library PR & Marketing - 11 - References De Rosa, C., & Johnson, J. (2008). From awareness to funding: A study of library support in America : a report to the OCLC membership. Dublin, Ohio: OCLC. Douglas County Libraries (2008). Library Return on Investment Calculator. Retrieved November 13, 2008, from Web site:   Goleman, D., Boyatzis, R. E., & McKee, A. (2002). Primal leadership: Realizing the power of emotional intelligence. Boston, Mass: Harvard Business School Press. Kotter, J. P. (1996). Leading change. Boston, Mass: Harvard Business School Press. Johnston, G. (2005). Retrieved November 10, 2008, from the Castle Rock Economic Development Council Web site: LaRue, J. (2007). The new inquisition: Understanding and managing intellectual freedom challenges. Westport, Conn: Libraries Unlimited. LaRue, J. (2008). Does Success Justify Funding?. Retrieved November 10, 2008, from Web site: Olson, C., & Singer, P. (2004). Winning with Library Leadership. Chicago: American Library Association. Ranganathan, S. R. (1957). The five laws of library science. Madras: library association. Rath, T., (2007). Strengthsfinder 2.0. New York: Gallup Press. E.A. Walker, 11/08
  14. 14. Managing $upport: A New Approach to Library PR & Marketing - 12 - Appendix I E.A. Walker, 11/08
  15. 15. Managing $upport: A New Approach to Library PR & Marketing - 13 - Appendix II E.A. Walker, 11/08
  16. 16. Managing $upport: A New Approach to Library PR & Marketing - 14 - R E S O U R C E G U IID E :: RE S O U R C E GU I D E ESOURCE U DE A S P E N ’’S A P P R O A C H TTO M A N A G IIN G TTH E $ U P P O R TT M A R K E TTIIN G T R E N D AS P E N S AP P R O A C H T O MA N A G I N G T H E $U P P O R T MA R K E T I N G TR E N D SPEN S PPROACH O ANAG NG HE UPPOR ARKE NG REND Getting to Know From Awareness to Funding ourselves others organization community The OCLC From Awareness to Funding report, Turning the Page: Building Your Library Community, The PALINET Leadership Network’s From Awareness to Funding wiki, Management & Leadership ourselves others organization community Kotter’s Leading Change, Goleman’s Primal Leadership, Rath’s Strengths Finder 2.0, Olson & Singer’s Winning with Library Leadership, Mentoring ourselves others WorldCat results, Library Marketing & PR ourselves Libraries Prosper with Passion, Purpose and Persuasion! A PLA Toolkit for Success, The M Word library marketing blog, First Impressions Last: Simple Branding & PR Tips for Libraries blog, New Jersey State’s Library Story Marketing campaign, Marketing ourselves Seth Godin’s blog, American Marketing Association/Journal of Marketing, /JournalofMarketing.aspx Trendwatching ourselves Williams Inference Anomaly Tracking, World Futurist Society, Campaign Strategy ourselves Larry Tramutola’s Sidewalk Strategies, Return on Investment ourselves others organization community Library Research Service, Return on Investment for Public Libraries, Storytelling & Public Speaking ourselves others community Annette Simmons’ The Story Factor, Ron Hoff’s Say it in Six, Public Speaking Study and Strategy Guide, Meeting Facilitation others Schwarz’s The Skilled Facilitator: Practical Wisdom For Developing Effective Groups, Organizational Awareness and Development organization Hatch’s Organization Theory, Senge’s The Fifth Discipline, Organization Development in Libraries, Community Building community Robert Putnam’s Bowling Alone and Better Together: Restoring the American Community, Kathleen de la Peña McCook’s A Place at the Table : Participating in Community Building, ICMA’s Libraries: Partners in Sustaining Community, ning%20Communities ICMA’s Local Government Managers and Public Libraries: Partners for A Better Community, Relationship Management community Baran’s Relationship Management, E.A. Walker, 11/08