Earlier in the year I was really chuffed to find out that the submission I had made to the CILIP PPRG Marketing Excellence Awards on behalf of the Warwick Marketing Advisory Group had won a Bronze award. This was great news and was accompanied by an invitation to speak about the project at the annual PPRG Marketing Excellence Event. So yesterday I jumped on a train to Birmingham to find out what other libraries are up to when it comes to publicity and public relations and also to pick up the award on behalf of Warwick and present on our Check It Out campaign.
It was a really enjoyable day, with good crowd of library marketing types from a range of sectors, all very happy to chat between sessions and discuss a range of issues, not just around marketing, but also about internal communication. The most interesting thing I got chatting about was the idea that a rebranding exercise could actually improve internal communication because it brings people from different teams together with a common goal, and also promotes a feeling that everyone is part of the same overarching team - even in very large libraries.
The speakers were informative and the presentations were informal and provoked a lot of chat and questions about a range of issues.
Kate Hall from Leicestershire County Library Services was the first speaker, explaining how the "Words on the Street" campaign increased attendance at author events in public libraries in the county. The campaign built on existing branding but added colour and used the internal staff intranet to allow staff at a range of sites to easily access, edit and print key publicity resources to match events in their areas easily and at low cost.
Linda Smith, Chair of PPRG spoke next on some key points about marketing library services in tough economic times. Linda talked a bit about the history of library marketing - which was really quite enlightening, and something I would like to look into more (I may feel another blog post coming on). Linda also talked about the importance of using marketing to "unpack our services" so customers can see what we really offer and get past the misconceptions they may have.
Lunch involved a great looking cake - 'nuff said.After lunch were the presentations from award winners.
Unfortunately Edinburgh Libraries were not able to attend, but Linda Smith gave an overview of their project which had won a Bronze for their Edinburgh reads project, which is an interactive map of the city showing which books are relevant to different locations. It really is impressive - please do have a look at it.
View Edinburgh Reads in a larger map
Laura Wood and Nicola Richards from Cardiff Central Library spoke next about their year-long series of events intended to surprise, and in some cases shock, their customers. This was a fantastic and innovative project getting people into the library who would not normally have come, by putting on everything from Chinese New Year celebrations and poetry readings to speed dating. They are looking at erotic reading and burlesque dancers for next year - so if you're in Cardiff DO pop in to the central library - but DON'T expect anything boring!
Warwick University's Check It Out campaign was up next (my turn) during which we managed to increase attendance at student orientation by 717%. I am very proud of the project but it felt a little dwarfed in comparison to Cardiff's amazing originality.
James Barisic, head of Social:Haus public relations agency was the last speaker, and well worth waiting for. James talked about the need for positive messages and "rays of sunshine" in such a negative time, and how perhaps the focus of library marketing should be on great services, great achievements and the importance of we do, rather than on the problems with government cuts, the decline in borrowing figures and the difficulty we are facing (let's face it national press is picking up publicity on all that stuff already!) His message was to be friends with the press, and to offer them good news stories in a time when they are hard to come by. James was really well received and a perfect final speaker to end the event leaving everyone with a positive message and a fresh perspective.
Final note: PPRG are currently looking for new committee members if you are interested in getting involved. Contact Davina Omar (who was confirmed as the new Chair at the AGM yesterday) for details.