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Grassroots Strategies for Connecting with your Community. Instructor: Penny Hummel An Infopeople Workshop Summer 2004. This Workshop Is Brought to You By the Infopeople Project.

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grassroots strategies for connecting with your community

Grassroots Strategies for Connecting with your Community


Penny Hummel

An Infopeople Workshop

Summer 2004

this workshop is brought to you by the infopeople project
This Workshop Is Brought to You By the Infopeople Project

Infopeople is a federally-funded grant project supported by the California State Library. It provides a wide variety of training to California libraries. Infopeople workshops are offered around the state and are open registration on a first-come,

first-served basis.

For a complete list of workshops, and for other information about the Project, go to the Infopeople Web site at

today s agenda
Today’s Agenda
  • What is grassroots promotion?
  • Identifying audiences
  • Developing a message
  • Working with internal audiences
  • Tools and partners for promotional success
  • Implementing your promotional plan
who am i
Who Am I?
  • Public Relations Manager at Multnomah County Library
  • Past lives:
    • Public relations consultant
    • Foundation and humanities council staffer
    • Library volunteer: FOL president, foundation trustee, advocate
  • Passionate promoter of libraries!
  • Name
  • Library
  • Position
  • One thing that’s happening at your library that you feel really good about
what is grassroots promotion
What is Grassroots Promotion?
  • Economical
    • using the resources you have
  • Entrepreneurial
    • creative and ingenious
  • Engaging
    • connecting with people and organizations
  • Evangelical
    • involving everyone you can think of!
why grassroots promotion
Why Grassroots Promotion?
  • Starts from the ground up
  • Emphasis on partnership
  • Huge budget not necessary
  • Homegrown and practical
why is grassroots promotion essential
Why is Grassroots Promotion Essential?
  • There will never be enough...
    • staffing
    • funding
    • resources
  • There will always be too many…
    • other things going on outside the library
    • competing priorities within the library
  • Nothing’s more important than connecting people with your library!
components of effective grassroots promotion
Components of Effective Grassroots Promotion
  • Connecting with your audience
  • Building relationships with individuals and organizations
  • Small steps (taken by many people) make a big difference
pr and marketing what s the difference
PR and Marketing --What’s the Difference?
  • Relatives, not identical twins!
  • PR: communication designed to deliver a message
  • Marketing: activities designed to inspire an action
        • Peter Persic, Melissa Richardson Banks, 2004 PLA Presentation
questions for the group
Questions for the Group
  • Why is it important to encourage more people to use, attend or support your library’s services, activities or events?
  • What are some of the common pitfalls of promotion in “Library Land”?
services and activities to promote
Summer Reading

Story times

Book discussions

Homework help




Computer classes

Online databases

Reader’s Advisory

Services and Activities to Promote
events to promote
Events to Promote
  • Author visits
  • Celebrations and anniversaries
  • Opening of new/renovated buildings
  • Community forums
  • National Library Week
your audience
Your Audience
  • Who are you trying to reach?
  • Finding out about their priorities
  • Creating a tailor-made strategy
who s your audience



Socioeconomic status




Other characteristics

Who’s Your Audience?
secondary audiences
Library users (in general)


News media

Elected officials






Secondary Audiences
how to find out your audience s priorities
How to Find Out Your Audience’s Priorities
  • Staff reports
  • Comments (cards, e-mail, letters)
  • Focus groups
  • Surveys
  • Research and analysis
staff the internal audience
Staff: The Internal Audience
  • Your eyes and ears in the community
  • Your mouth in the community
  • Ensuring that their contributions are for good (not evil)
question for the group
Question for the Group

How have library staff helped or hindered your efforts to promote what’s happening at your library?

engaging library staff
Engaging Library Staff
  • Include them in planning
  • Keep them informed
  • Provide training and tools
  • Keep asking for their input
  • Encourage those who “catch the fire”
key messages
Key Messages
  • A call to action
  • Short, clear and to the point
  • Offer what your audience wants
  • Library-positive
examples of library messages
Examples of Library Messages
  • Have fun playing the Summer Reading game!
  • Join the library’s community reading project.
  • Learn new computer skills by attending free classes at your library.
good message or bad
Good message or bad?
  • With 63 online databases available to its customers (some of these can be accessed from a computer at home or at work, for others, the library user would need to visit a library location), the Smith library is ready to serve the information needs of the Bedford community…
promotional tools

E-mail lists

Checkout receipts


Web site







Promotional Tools
project specific materials







Web pages

Project-Specific Materials
tools and how they complement each other
Tools and How They Complement Each Other
  • Print publications
    • traditional format that can be distributed where the people are
  • Web pages
    • top choice of younger users
  • E-mails and listservs
    • easy to share the latest developments
what makes a tool successful
What Makes a Tool Successful?
  • Tells people what they need to know
  • Easy to figure out
  • Uses appropriately clear language
  • Visually pleasing
  • Consistent with messaging for the project and the library
examine your examples
Examine Your Examples
  • What works about this promotional piece?
  • What doesn’t work?
  • How would you improve it?
community partners
Community Partners
  • Multiply your ability to reach out throughout your community
  • Contribute expertise and tools that focus on specific audiences
  • Leverage support from other partners
  • Give credibility to library projects
how your partners can help
How Your Partners Can Help
  • Distribution of library materials
  • Web site links and articles
  • E-mail lists
  • Donated programming
  • Related materials
  • Donate: Supplies, food, graphics, exposure
engaging community partners
Engaging Community Partners
  • Include them in planning
  • Utilize their expertise
  • Keep them informed
  • Provide tools that work for their needs
  • Keep asking for their input
  • Encourage those who “catch the fire”
what about sponsors
What About Sponsors?
  • Offer a major cash, media or (major) in-kind contribution
  • Participate to meet their own promotional and marketing goals
  • Need to be acknowledged appropriate to their level of support
identifying partners sponsors
Identifying Partners & Sponsors
  • Brainstorm to identify connections
  • Involve other staff, library supporters, existing partners
  • Clarify why their participation is a win/win
  • Create a timeline and work plan
implementing your plan
Implementing Your Plan
  • Keep listening to your audience, partners and staff
  • Use your tools wherever you can
  • Work effectively with the media
  • Stay on message
  • Evaluate
the rules of engagement
The Rules of Engagement
  • Communicate frequently and emphasize success
  • Make course corrections if needed
  • Do what you say you’ll do
  • Move towards “the tipping point”
  • Acknowledge contributions!
working with the media
Working With the Media
  • It’s a reciprocal relationship
  • Libraries have an important story to tell
  • We need to understand their needs in order to get ours met
the reporter s world
The Reporter’s World
  • Deadlines, deadlines, deadlines
  • A glut of information about too many things
  • Constant shifts to new and unfamiliar topics
media magnets examples
Media Magnets: Examples
  • Positive
    • making a dent in big social problems
    • bringing the community together
    • an individual’s triumph over adversity
  • Negative
    • conflict
    • good guy vs. bad guy
    • disaster and destruction
how to engage a reporter
How to Engage a Reporter
  • Be accurate, succinct and clear
  • Focus on your key messages
  • State conclusion, then demonstrate it
  • Tailor your message to the recipient
  • Use stories, not statistics
  • Avoid library jargon
questions to ask yourself
Questions to Ask Yourself
  • Why should people care about this project?
  • What makes it interesting, unique or particularly timely?
  • Do the partnerships you’ve created make it more newsworthy?
tools for media outreach
Tools for Media Outreach
  • News releases and media kits
  • Pitch letters or e-mails
  • Phone or personal contact
questions for the group1
Questions for the Group

What’s been your most challenging experience working with the media in the effort to promote a library project?

evaluating your success
Evaluating Your Success
  • Document
    • usage
    • attendance
    • exposure
  • Analyze
    • what worked
    • what didn’t
  • Emphasize the positive in final report