Penny Andrews reviews last week’s event in Leeds.
This very enjoyable SLA Europe event took place at The Cross Keys, a gastro pub in Holbeck, Leeds. Although the audience was mainly new professionals, thanks to the focus around new books from Bethan Ruddock and Ned Potter, there was a mixture of sectors and levels of experience.
Ned Potter opened the event, with a presentation called Six Things You Can Do To Market Your Service that riffed off his book, The Library Marketing Toolkit. Ned’s slides are available on Prezi, so I won’t just repeat them but will try to give a flavour of what he said from my notes.
Ned made the very valid point that we’re all marketers now. Even if you don’t work in that kind of role. There is an onus on you to promote your services to all the people who need them. You need to work out where people want to go and help them to get there quicker and more easily.
Good service and making a positive impression is something you can and must do, and that’s marketing. Your reputation is based on your first or last interaction with somebody. If you’re good or bad, both contribute to marketing your service. You can police poor posters, photographs etc that are produced by your department and show how they can be done better.
Internal communications are just as important as outward marketing. New professionals can do face to face and word of mouth promotion as you’re still close to users and talk to real people all the time. Senior marketing people who responded to Ned on Twitter pointed out that some really do value your input. New professionals have fresh perspectives and notice things experienced professionals have got used to.
Social media is our thing. Offer to get involved. For example, Pinterest is driving a lot of web traffic these days, more than Twitter and Facebook even when you have far fewer followers. Users of that network are much more active and follow things up. You could say how it could be used to achieve your library’s aims and help to set it up or improve it.
Proposals are valued by managers. Senior professionals make decisions, but new professionals can save their valuable time and do the research. Have a plan, give them two or three options with a good case for each and ask them to choose which would be best. What can social media achieve that they aren’t getting now? You need to know what works for each medium, with the right tone and content.
You can talk about the 1-in-4 rule – for an organisation, only one in four updates should be about the organisation directly or people get bored. Their accounts should retweet, respond, share what others are doing and make it about conversation and not merely broadcast what they themselves are doing. You could also use the example of a party. At a party, you would get involved in conversations and not stand in the corner shouting about things you have done or find interesting.
You can try to solve existing problems with new platforms and technologies. Demonstrate value. Find the person who can make things happen and be useful to them. Then you might be trusted with your ideas. Work out who you ned to speak to internally, what they need to hear and how they need to say it. Different people need a different approach.
Ned asked us to discuss in groups: What one tool or approach might improve internal communication in your organisation? One of my group mentioned how her library uses Sharepoint, but they are stuck with old browsers etc and so not everything works properly, including technologies like Storify that can be used to collect and present feedback. They have begun sharing their own personal blog posts to get around some of those issues. Another person’s organisation was fixated on email as the one true way to share information and links. They had an intranet, but it is now dead. There is a lot of resistance to change.
Talk benefits and not features. Give things names that make sense. Talk in the language of people, not librarians. What do they want? How can you demonstrate that in ways that sound human? What does it do? Tell marketing what you want to call it. Librarians are too used to jargon.
In groups, we tried to rewrite some awful examples of communication in libraries (see Ned’s slides). Our group wished we could simplify things a bit more, as “Find Stuff” would get a lot more take-up and make more sense than the cumbersome names and descriptions of services and events we are often stuck with.
After a short break, it was time for Bethan Ruddock’s talk, 9 Points About Personal Marketing. Her notes are on her blog. Instead of using slides, she put keywords on coloured card in nicely horrible fonts and distributed them randomly throughout the audience. We were encouraged to wave the cards as triggers for Bethan to speak, so she had no idea in which order she would have to make her points, which were as follows:
1. Target Audience. Just because they’re in the same place and they know about a thing you’re doing, doesn’t mean they actual read/digest it. Your boss might follow you on Twitter or be aware of your blog, but that doesn’t mean they take notice of everything you say. Find your own audience and tailor your content to them, but make sure it is still suitable for the other people who may read it.
2. Authentic. Be true to who you are. Not all of who you are, sharing your dirty washing or being truly warts and all. But honest enough that it feels real and engages people. Your persona has to mesh with who you are in real life, not a false version, or you will fail/slip/get stressed/have a breakdown.
3. At Work. A good place to promote yourself. Networking isn’t just events and social media. The best way to advocate for yourself is to do your
job well and be a good colleague. It is easier to share good work you are already doing than to put effort into portraying yourself as something you are not. Do your work well and share what you do and your reputation will grow. You will be recommended. Live it day-to-day, not just on your blog.
4. Motive. This is the key to everything about self-promotion. You don’t do things just to make yourself look good. Know why you’re doing something before you do it. What do you want to get out of self-promotion? Promotion, a new job, a particular job, to be better known, to make new friends, to become known as an expert. Know why you’re at a conference and what you want to get out of it. You might be promoting or representing an organisation or project, networking, having fun. Lots of hats or motives there, but none are just about making yourself look wonderful. Knowing why you are doing something helps you push yourself forwards. You are promoting some information that might be useful to people, or your colleagues, your organisation, your book’s contributors, a project you’re working on, your users – not just you.
5. Congruence. All these areas must all fit together. An outspoken atheist on Twitter applying for job at Lambeth Palace doesn’t make sense. You should not be publicly saying things that go against your organisation’s values or criticising your employer or colleagues. If you have to do be critical, make your position very clear. Nobody likes a bitch.
6. Social Media. You really can’t avoid it, but choose the right platforms and style for you and what you want to do. Make sure the medium right for your message, target audience and level of comfort. The platform(s) you choose must be the right space for you or it won’t be comfortable or authentic.
7. Flows From Activities. Bringing your persona together. What you project yourself as needs to come from what you do. Once again, share what you do. An activity is the grit in your oyster and what you build around it is a shiny pearl. Bethan is known as a high-profile new professional now, but won’t always be the new professionals go-to person. She does quite a niche job and needs to capitalise on that as well. We all do. Are you really an expert? Make that flow into a congruent persona.
8. Success. What are your criteria, based on motivation? How will you know when you’ve achieved success? How are you measuring it, internally? Do your heroes know your name? Your criteria may be hits on a blog, retweets, impact, new business cards from new contacts. You need actions to follow up. Are people coming to you? Are you accepted to speak at a conference? Then get people to ask you first. Make goals for yourself. Know when you’ve achieved them and celebrate it.
9. Face to face. Where it all comes together or you can get caught out. Congruence is important, but also choosing the right events to get to the right people. Conferences are one example, but meetings often require positive contribution, not just attendance, so you can get more out of them. Wear the right shoes (Bethan joked that she wasn’t that evening). Be comfortable. Make your persona work for your audience and goal.
In conclusion: project the benefits of what you do correctly and know what impact you’re having, positive or negative. Let people know what you’re good at and how you can help your colleagues develop professionally. Plan in follow-up activities while working on the main activity, as that makes life easier. For example, work out how you will share your slides and blog your experience while you are still working on a presentation.
Bethan has helpfully described the battle summaries on her blog. Essentially, two plucky volunteers had to step up and summarise the two presentations, with somewhat crazy slides they had never seen before, no control over when they changed and with no notes. Laura Williams and Katie P. did a sterling job, as can be seen in my photographs.
Many thanks to Penny for the write-up, Bethan and Ned for speaking, and Facet Publishing for their kind sponsorship. Congratulations to the winners of our prize draw too – Michelle Bond won a copy of Ned’s ‘The Library Marketing Toolkit’, and Andrew Oakes won Bethan’s ‘The New Professional’s Toolkit’.
There have been a few other write-ups of the evening, please see links below: