Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Public Relations Magic in March: : St. Patty's Day, March Madness, Women's History and Reading

March is a wonderful time of year. Everyone is waiting anxiously for spring to arrive. The first signs of "green" come on St. Patty's day, everyone either wears green, drinks and eats green things and look for little leprechauns. On the other hand, there are die hard sports fans who track college basketball for March Madness. Don't forget Women's history month to add to the Spring festivities. In the midst of all this celebrating, libraries have tons of programs which celebrate reading. This may make one librarian wondering what could possibly come in April to top all these reasons to celebrate. Oh, Yeah National Library Week. (Ideas on that will be shared at another time.) Suffice it to say, as scattered as all these topics seem to be, they do have something in common. Besides the fact that they are all in March, these celebrations are the perfect time for libraries to promote themselves to local officials and state legislators. Curious on how to get a jump start on advocating for libraries before April? Read on.

All politicians claim to be "Irish" on St. Patrick's Day. Even President O'bama claimed Irish decent when traveling through Ireland. Why not? It's a wonderful heritage, there is good food, good dancing and lots of fun wearing the green. Plus, they are always talking about the Luck of the Irish. Ah, libraries could use a wee bit luck. To tap into our own little bit of luck, librarians could distribute postcards to their patrons, that are ready to be mailed to the local officials, asking the patrons to support the library by simply signing the postcard which will be sent to the Representatives. The cards could say, "The library is our city's LUCKY charm. Please support our library" It's a great little reminder that the library adds value to every community.

March Madness provides a wonderful opportunity to bring sports into the library. Most sports fans figure libraries don't have anything for a sports fans. Not true. Books about team history, statistics and biographies about famous players are just a few items up for grab. Years ago, an energetic school librarian set out to prove that bringing in basketball fun into the school library would not only benefit the students but also the library as well. On the library doors, a sign was posted "March Madness in Progress. Enter if you DARE" Once the students took the "dare" they were directed to the reference desk where the librarian had a huge basketball bracket on display for all to see her picks. If the students, school board member or faculty cared to fill out a bracket, they had to first write on the bracket sheet why they were "mad" about the library. Then they could post their brackets. The amount of traffic through the library was amazing due to the number of students who wanted to see whose brackets came closest to being spot on. As for the librarian, well the "mad about the Library" comments helped demonstrate the important functions that the school library performed for the students. Plus, her bracket picks were pretty off the mark which made for interesting remarks from students. One student offered to help the librarian to find out more about statistics so next year she could make better choices in her picks.

Women's history month proves to be a great way to remind female legislators and officials about the impact that women have had on history. In their own way, these leaders have made an impact on their own community. For libraries who are facing budget cuts and concerns, there is a way to invite these leaders into the library to "celebrate" Women's history month. One inventive (and could be profitable also) way is to have a women Tea party. Inviting key women leaders to come to the Tea to support the library is great PR for the officials as well as the library.

Of course promoting reading is always a good thing for libraries. After all, when thinking about libraries the first thing to come to most minds are books. t is the trademark of libraries. However, it doesn't hurt to do something different to add spice to PR and advocacy. Library events like those mentioned above will lend itself to patrons coming in to check out books to read throughout the month of March. More importantly, it will get elected officials to open their eyes and minds aobut what libraries do and what they offer the community.
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