Tip: Channels of Communication

So you have wonderful programs and services at your library and you’ve used LibraryAware to create professional-looking, creative promotional materials. Here are tips on how to develop channels of communications to promote your programs and services.  

Communication can include both internal and external channels.  Internal communication is the way that you share information with your staff and volunteers so they know what’s happening.  External communication extends this messaging outside of your library.  

Internal Communication 

Educating your staff is just as important as communicating externally. Internal communication channels give your staff the information they need to confidently, proactively promote programs and services to your customers. Effective internal communication often results in better buy-in from staff; they feel part of and knowledgeable about the process.

Inclusion is essential!

Audience

Anyone who works for your library needs to be informed:

  • Both full-time and part-time staff
  • Volunteers
  • Trustees
  • Board Members
  • Friends Groups

What to Communicate 

  • Dates for upcoming events
  • Contact person for event
  • Registration deadlines and how to’s 
  • What their role is  (expectation of behavior)
  • Talking points
  • The target audiences and why they would want to attend
  • Highlight online resources, special collections - what it does, who should use it and why

Tools 

LibraryAware’s tools will help you create an amazing internal communication network. Remember that the idea behind internal communication is to help people know who, what, where, when and why about every program and service you are promoting. These are the basic tools for communicating to your internal audience:

  1. Email Blasts
    Send email blasts to staff, informing them of any programs you are promoting. Create a separate email mailing list for staff and schedule the mail to go out a week before you begin to publicize to the public. 

  2. Flyers/Handouts/Brochures/Bookmarks
    Another way to reach staff is by distributing handouts where staff gathers. They are easy to create with LibraryAware. You simply need to adapt the message for the staff rather than the public. 

    Places to Post

    • Staff Lounge
    • Staff bathrooms
    • Near staff computers

Tweak Content

    • Consider creating a heading and call to action specifically for staff. Example: instead of saying “Register Now” for your call to action, you might say, “Please tell your customers.”
    • If an author was visiting your library, you might create a flyer that says: “If Mom Is Looking for A Great Family Event, This is It.”
    • Create a handout that highlights specific online resources or other services. Designate a new service every month to highlight.

     3. E-newsletter
         If your library lacks an internal newsletter, LibraryAware makes it easy to put one together. 

External Communication 

External communication channels give you the ability to reach both existing and potential customers.  LibraryAware makes it easy for you to send your message through multiple channels to reach a variety of audiences. 

Tools 

Start long before the event to maximize your promotions. Map out a strategy that includes what you will do prior to the event, during, and after. 

Find out what works best for your community.  Keep at it; as you build your communication channels, you will build on your promotional success!

  1. Phone
    We often forget about the telephone, with all the new social media outlets. A phone call can be an effective means of communication, especially for more immediate back-and-forth, or if you want to share more in-depth information. 

  2. Website
    Quick and easily accessible, the website is an excellent tool to promote your library’s programs and services.  It’s important to keep your web page attractive, easy to navigate and current.  

  3. Email
    Collect email addresses as often as possible.  Email is great for sending thank-yous, updates, and information. Entice customers to open your emails by thinking carefully about your subject line.  

  4. Facebook
    If your library has a Facebook page, include highlights from your library’s events, including quotes from participants, activities, program content and follow-up information.   You can post photos and tag them on Facebook. The added benefit of tagging a photo on Facebook is that when you tag someone, it appears on their wall. Anyone who is a friend of someone you tagged can see the photo. The idea is that it will lead them to want to learn more about the event (because hey, they want their photo from a cool local event put on Facebook, too). Note: you’ll only be able to tag people you’re connected to.

  5. Flickr
    Everyone loves seeing photos of themselves (as long as they’re flattering). By posting photos of your event on Flickr and tagging them with people’s names, you’ll generate interest in your event from the people who attended and those who follow them on various social media channels.

  6. Twitter
    Sending tweets out to your followers is a fast way to keep everyone updated on what’s happening. Whether it’s a new book release, or an interesting program, Twitter is a great tool for connecting people online and offline to your event.

    LibraryAware Tip:  Ask library staff to assist you by posting their own take on a library program or service through their blogs, Twitter, Facebook, and Flickr accounts. Make it as easy as possible for them to share their content and photos of your event online.

  7. Print
    Printed publicity materials such as promotional flyers, handouts and bookmarks are effective channels of communication and LibraryAware provides a variety of templates. When distributing promotional pieces, think about your audience, where will they see the materials, what is the best way to distribute the materials, and who should distribute the materials. 

  8. Letters
    Letters can help you make connections within your community. LibraryAware offers templates for:
    • Invitations and thank-you letters to community partners and elected officials
    • Requests and thank-you letters for donations and sponsorships

  9. Media  
    Listed below are tips to build relationships with different media channels. Your goal is to build a stronger library presence in your community.  Each community has different types of media channels, do your research to identify available external channels in your community. 

Three Tips to Get Reporters on Your Side

  1. Stay in Touch
    • Don’t just call the media when you want something. 
    • Ask the local media how you can help (does the local education reporter need some statistics for a story they are writing?)
    • Call and ask to meet when they are not on deadline.  When you meet, offer story ideas, and ask for their feedback. 
    • If your library publishes a special publication, share it with your media contacts. 
  2. Be Persistent
    • Be persistent but not obnoxious.  It is okay to follow up with a phone call or email, but not 10 phone calls or emails. 
    • Be flexible  - follow-up is important, but if you don’t get the response you want, consider a different story idea.
  3. Show Respect
    • Listen to reporters – respect their expertise
    • Remember reporters work on deadlines, learn what those are and work within their time frame
    • Show respect – if a reporter has been recognized or received an award, send them a congratulations note

Good communication is central to the success of library programs and services. Even if it’s just a one-time event, keeping in contact with everyone who attended could result in invaluable contacts or lifelong friendships. Promote social media and good communication whenever you’re planning and executing an event or promoting a service.  Contrary to popular belief, the event is not done when everyone leaves. There’s still more to do. Make sure your event leaves a lasting impression, especially if you intend to have future events or even an annual one.

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