Author Archives: Tiffany McClary

About Tiffany McClary

Tiffany McClary is the Director of Communications, Marketing & Outreach for the New Jersey State Library. She coordinates marketing and public relations initiatives in order to enhance the reputation of the State Library, and promote the value of NJ libraries and the services and programs that they provide to residents.

7 Podcasts Public Libraries Should Be Sharing

What’s hot in content marketing today? Video certainly tops many digital marketing lists, so it may seem strange that a seemingly outdated technology such as podcasting is gaining in popularity.

The first podcasts were distributed as early as 2003, but they’ve become enormously popular in the last couple of years. A recent survey by Edison Research and Triton Polling found 21% of Americans 12 and older have listened to a podcast in the last month. That’s about 57 million people.

Podcast topics range from news and comedy to history and fiction. There are podcasts about marketing, entrepreneurship, small business, politics, sports, and religion. Many major media outlets also have complemented their regular editorial content with podcasts. National Public Radio, for example, fully embraced the trend several years ago.

Librarians around the country have started their own podcasts too. Rita Meade, for example, is a Brooklyn public librarian who hosts Book Riot’s Dear Book Nerd.

But you don’t have to start a podcast to make this medium work for your marketing. Like TED Talks, you can use podcasts as a jumping off point for your blog posts, social media, and even events. The breadth of topics means you can find something of interest for any of the library audiences you’re targeting as part of your marketing strategy.

To get you started, check out the following seven podcasts.

For Book Lovers

BBC World Book Club

Hosted by Harriet Gilbert, this podcast from across the pond interviews authors from around the world. Guests have included Elizabeth Gilbert, Jonathan Franzen, Neil Gaiman, and Jhumpa Lahiri.

For Kids 

Eleanor Amplified

Eleanor Amplified is a world-famous radio reporter in pursuit of the Big Story. Her adventures always seem to land her in trouble. From WHYY in Philadelphia, this serialized story podcast is designed for kids ages 8-12.

For Parents

Read-Aloud Revival with Sarah Mackenzie

This podcast aims to help parents build a family culture around books. Interviews provide insights about how to get kids of all ages to love books of all kinds. It’s especially useful for homeschooling families, but every parent will find its tips valuable.

For Writers

Writership Podcast

Professional book editors Alyssa Archer and Leslie Watts critique five pages of fiction from traditional and self-published authors. They share writing and editing tips to improve your writing.

For Entrepreneurs

Entrepreneur on Fire

Starting a new business isn’t easy, especially if it’s the first time. Fortunately, many successful entrepreneurs are eager to share their stories and secrets. The host of this daily podcast, John Lee Dumas, has interviewed more than 1,400 entrepreneurs, including Tony Robbins, Gary Vaynerchuk, and Tim Ferriss. His interviews cover everything from digital marketing to brand-building to finding the right audience for your product. This podcast is perfect for small business owners, entrepreneurs and startups.

For Citizens

Science Vs

Host Wendy Zukerman digs deep into the science behind hotly debated issues, to find out what’s true and what’s not. Fracking, gun control, and attachment parenting are covered in the current season. Science Vs. was very popular in Australia, where it was launched, but it’s now part of Gimlet Media, a podcasting company launched by Alex Blumberg, the co-founder of NPR’s Planet Money.

For Public Library Marketers

Duct Tape Marketing

Like small business owners, public librarians wear many hats, overseeing every aspect of running their organization. So when it comes to marketing, they need practical ideas they can put to use immediately. This podcast, like the book it’s based on, delivers on that promise. Hosted by John Jantsch, author of Duct Tape Marketing: The World’s Most Practical Small Business Marketing Guide, the podcast covers SEO, messaging, social media marketing and more.


These are just a few samples of the rich world of podcasting. As you listen, you’re sure to find episodes perfect to share in social media, discuss in a blog post, or incorporate into a library book club.

Video Series Part 5: Four Ways to Promote Your Public Library Video

So far in our series about how to create a video for your public library, we’ve discussed how to choose the right spokesperson, hold a successful video shoot and edit your video in post-production. Creating a video news announcement is a serious investment of time and resources, so you want to get the final step right: promotion.

As you create your marketing plan, keep in mind that all the time-honored tactics still apply. So be sure to use both digital and offline methods to get the word out. But there are four tactics that are considered essential for promoting video. Let’s take a look at each.

1. Post It on YouTube.

This social network is the second-largest search engine, and it’s still the powerhouse for video. The most frequently searched topic is “how-to,” which makes YouTube a good choice for videos demonstrating the steps for searching library databases, downloading eBooks, and so much more. You can upload the video to your YouTube channel, and then use the link and embed code to share your video in other social networks and websites, as described below.

2. Feature on Your Website.

One way to ensure your video is seen by as many people as possible is to feature it on your home page. Use the embed code from YouTube and your website visitors can simply click to play.

3. Email It.

Email remains one of the most effective marketing tactics. There are two ways to use it to promote your video: include a link in your newsletter or feature the video in its own email to a specific target audience. When you segment your email list, you can identify the type of subscribers who would be most interested in your announcement.

For example, if your video promotes programs for children, you can create a subset of your list that includes only parents. Write a subject line and email copy that will catch the attention of both moms and dads, and insert a thumbnail image that links to your video. This strategy often produces much higher open and click-through rates.

4. Post on Facebook and Snapchat.

Video on both social networks is extremely popular – and growing. Facebook reportedly gets eight billion video views per day, while Snapchat gets 10 billion. New research by Brightcove shows “consumers are spending an average of six hours per week watching video content on social media networks alone.” And although 50% of social video views are on YouTube, Brightcove’s research proves that just posting your video there isn’t enough. More than a third of views are on Facebook, which means ignoring it – or Snapchat, Instagram or Twitter – means missing out on a sizable audience.

Further, the top two ways viewers discover videos are by scrolling their newsfeed (62%) or because it was shared by someone in their network (49%). Thus, be sure to encourage shares, likes, and comments, which will increase the potential for your video to be seen by more people.

Now that your video is ready, it’s time to get out your bullhorn and let your community, followers and subscribers know all about it!

Video Series Part 4: Best Practices for Editing Your Public Library’s Video Announcement

If you’ve been following the tips in this series about creating a news announcement video for your public library, perhaps you’ve already held a successful video shoot and now are ready to stitch together your takes and finalize your video. In this post, I’ll share a few tips and best practices for the editing process.

Choose your video editing software

There are several options for video editing software on the market. Among professional videographers, the best known and widely used are Apple Final Cut Pro, Avid Media Pro and Adobe Premiere Pro. But these can be expensive, and they also offer more features than what’s needed for a DIY video. Apple iMovie gets high marks from PC Magazine for its ease of use for beginners, and because it comes packaged with most Macs, it’s very affordable. For Windows users, there are several good quality and free options, such as Machete Video Editor Lite and WeVideo, which is a cloud-based option. (Check out this list of recommendations from HubSpot here.)

Keep the video short

Most viewers don’t watch more than a few seconds of video, so you need to keep two things in mind as you edit. First, open your video with a compelling teaser designed to keep viewers glued to the screen. This could be a compelling question or visual. Second, keep the entire length of your video to no more than three minutes. This doesn’t mean you should completely avoid longer videos. After all, some content – particularly instructional – calls for more time. But an announcement video is best kept to three minutes or less.

Intersperse B-roll footage

B-roll is supplemental footage that can add visual texture to your story. For example, shots of your library interior or exterior, last year’s event, or an artist at work can be interspersed in your video to increase excitement about your news. It’s also used to cover up your cuts and transitions.

Add titles and text

Your video should start with a title that explains what viewers are about to see. In addition, you’ll need subtitles to provide information about who’s speaking and what their role is. When adding text, it’s important that it can be clearly read. So, use a contrasting color as well as a plain and simple font and superimpose it over a plain background so it is easy to read.

Don’t forget the call to action!

As you close your video, be sure to let the viewers know what you want them to do and direct them to additional resources. For example, let’s say you’re announcing a new event. Your call to action should encourage them to sign up and tell them where and how they can do that.

Did you miss Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3? In the next post in this series, I’ll talk about how to upload and promote your video. Check back soon!

Streamlining Social Media Marketing with Mobile Apps and Online Tools

Guest blog post from Caroline Vallila, Springboard:

Social media marketing is one of the most effective ways to promote a business, organization, campaign, event, or product. Celebrities, politicians, and people like you and me are using social to share their journey, experience, and yes, even what they had for lunch. With a single post, tweet, photo, or video, we have the power to instantly connect with people across the globe. Once it is determined which social media platforms are relevant to your needs, there should be consistent and creative engagement. To help streamline social media processes and get the most out of your experience, below are several applications and services available for curating content, scheduling posts, managing multiple accounts, and tracking results.

Content Creation                                             

As previously highlighted in our introductory guide to building a stronger social media presence, visuals help posts to stand out from an endless stream of text and entices users to “stop the scroll”.

  • Adobe Spark is a free graphic design application that allows users to create social graphics, memes and animated videos.
  • Pixabay offers more than 940,000 free stock photos, illustrations, vectors, and videos which can be socialized without attribution.
  • With it, content can be curated from other sources and shared along with personalized comments across multiple social media platforms.
  • Hootsuite Enhance allows users to create compelling images and then add customizable text, watermarks, company logos, and filters before sharing to Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest right from the app itself.
  • With gifs, users can take any video from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or YouTube and quickly turn it into a GIF using its web application.

Schedule Posts in Advance

To ensure content reaches your target audience, it’s important to post frequently and at optimal times. With the following tools, you can schedule multiple posts to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram at specific times throughout the day:

  • Buffer makes it easy to consistently schedule content across multiple social media profiles to increase reach and user engagement.
  • With Hootsuite, users can also manage multiple social profiles and schedule effective social content from a single dashboard.
  • Schedugram is an easy way to queue posts to Instagram. In addition to setting specific times to post images or videos, Schedugram automatically converts uploaded files into the right size and format for Instagram.
  • Yala uses machine learning to determine the best times to post to Twitter and Facebook.

Manage Multiple Accounts

How many window browsers do you currently have open? If the answer is more than two, these tools can help! Consolidate multiple windows into one, organized and easy to read window to improve your workflow:

  • Ghost Browserenables users to log into any website with multiple accounts from one window.
  • Engage is a standalone app by Twitter to help users manage multiple Twitter profiles.
  • Panda 5 also enables users to browse multiple websites at the same time for distraction free reading and built-in bookmarking to improve workflow.

Content Reporting & Analytics

 To gauge how your social media marketing is performing, it’s crucial to analyze and compare weekly, monthly, or quarterly content reports and analytics. By understanding which types of posts provoke more interactions and comparing which platforms amplify your social media presence, analytics can help your company reach its end goal. From generating leads to bringing awareness to a cause, the following tools can help track results:

  • PostReachautomates content reporting by delivering traffic statistics, page views, clicks, and shares through weekly email notifications.
  • SproutSocial measures follower growth, analyzes engagement ratios, and monitors trends in popular hashtags.


Overall, social media marketing is one of the smartest and simplest ways to connect with the public on a more personal level. We recommend implementing a well-thought out social media strategy first, and then streamlining processes to ensure each account runs as efficiently as possible.



 About the guest blogger:

Caroline Vallila is responsible for public relations, social media, account management, and media relations at Springboard.

Video Series Part 3: Lights, Camera, Action! Tips to Make Your Video Shoot Go Smoothly

So far in this series about how to create a marketing video for your public library, we’ve covered the pre-production process and how to choose a video spokesperson. This post provides some useful tips for the shoot itself.

Whether you decide to hire a professional or do-it-yourself, these tips will help you become familiar with the process, know what to expect on the day of the shoot, and improve the quality of your video.

Put together your video team

Every video shoot needs at least five people. Of course, the spokesperson (also known as the “talent,”) needs to be present and already familiar with the script. You’ll need a camera man whose job it is to capture the video. Likewise, you should have a dedicated audio person, who ensures the sound quality is good by monitoring volume levels and listening for unwanted noise. A director, much like the Hollywood kind, can assess the performance and give instructions to improve delivery.  An assistant can keep track of takes, mark up scripts with changes, and handle miscellaneous tasks.

That is of course a perfect case scenario. If you don’t have 5 people, don’t worry! Work with who you have. As we know in the land of stretched budgets and resources, we often need to wear multiple hats to get the job done.

Get the lighting right 

Too dark, too light, too many shadows: lighting can affect the quality of your video in big ways. If you’re new to video and on a tight budget, it probably doesn’t make sense to buy professional photography lights. Instead, work with what light you have. First, turn off overhead lights, which tend to create unwanted shadows. To improve your setting’s lighting, find three lamps and place them strategically around the subject to accentuate and create natural tones.

Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse  

Be sure to provide your spokesperson with the script a few days ahead of your shoot. On the day of the shoot, rehearse a few times and have the director provide feedback. Once everyone is comfortable, begin shooting, but aim to get two to three takes of each section of the script. This will give the editor plenty to work with in post-production.

Shoot small sections

Don’t attempt to shoot the entire script at once. Instead, break it into pieces at logical break points. Review each take after shooting, adjust and shoot another take or two. During the editing process, you can string together the best takes.

Mark timings as you go

As you progress through the script, have the assistant note the start and stop times of the best takes. This will make it easier to find them during the editing process.


You don’t have to be a professional to shoot good quality marketing video, but it does take a bit of knowledge and some practice. You can find plenty of advice by searching Google, but I found this video from Wistia and the accompanying Forbes article to be very helpful.

We’ll cover the editing process in our next post. Check back soon for the next installment of this series!


Video Series Part 2: How to Choose the Right Spokesperson for Video News

In an earlier post, I covered how your public library could gain more publicity by announcing news via video. That post covered the pre-production process, including how to define your audience, create a storyboard, write a script, and choose a setting.

There’s one other piece that I didn’t cover, but which is very important: How to select the right video spokesperson. This may sound easy, but it can actually be quite challenging. At the outset, you may want to choose based on relevant roles in your organization. For news about children’s programs, for example, the logical choice would be the children’s librarian.

However, to ensure your message resonates with your target audience, there are several other criteria to consider. Here are five qualities your video spokesperson should have.

A Demographic Match with the Audience

Your audience is more likely to trust someone they can relate to. That’s why matching your spokesperson to your target audience is so important. If you’re reaching out to Millennial moms, you’ll get better results if your video spokesperson is also a Millennial mom, one who can make a personal appeal.

Loves to Be On Camera

Much like the fear of public speaking, being on video makes many people uncomfortable. Be sure to choose someone who isn’t intimidated by the camera. Even better, find someone who loves it! Their enthusiasm will come across in the video, and your shoot will be much easier.

Exudes High Energy

This is especially important. A fair amount of enthusiasm and energy will be lost between real life and your recorded segment. If your spokesperson relays information in a normal tone, they could come across as flat or dull on video. But a high-energy delivery is certain to hold the attention of your audience.

Speaks Clearly

It’s incredibly important for your spokesperson to be able to speak slowly and clearly. Of course, rehearsals are essential for anyone, but a confident and articulate speaker will be able to deliver your message clearly and efficiently. Competency in this area will pay off during the shoot itself because you’ll have fewer takes. But it also pays off in the editing process because you won’t need to spend much time fixing flubs.

Channels Your Brand Personality

Because video is a visual medium, appearance plays a major role in how successful your spokesperson will be at delivering your message. The best candidate will have a personality and style that matches your brand. Most importantly, they should be passionate about your library and initiatives.


As you consider potential spokespeople, it’s a good idea to audition a few candidates on camera first. This will give you an opportunity to evaluate and compare performances.

We’ll cover the filming process in our next post. Check back soon for the next installment of this series!


Video Series Part 1: Got Library News? Announce It with Video

Big news! Your public library is… having an event, receiving a large donation, starting a new program. You want your announcement to generate a high level of excitement in the community, but the traditional press release simply isn’t going to do the job.

Why not add some luster? Instead of putting your news in black and white, make your announcement with video.

Check out this video we just created at the State Library on NJ Makers Day:

Video is exploding as a medium. YouTube says it now reaches more US 18-49 year-olds during prime time than the top 10 TV shows combined, and people are watching 100 million hours of video on Facebook every day. Apps like Periscope and Meerkat have made the process of live-streaming events and news accessible to anyone with a smartphone. So it hardly comes as a surprise that 87% of online marketing professionals are incorporating video content into their marketing strategies.

That’s because videos are highly effective marketing tools. Sixty-four percent of viewers say they are more likely to buy a product online after watching a video, according to ComScore. In addition, videos can have a long shelf life. They can be shared in social media, promoted in your newsletter, and posted on your website.

But don’t be fooled: putting together a video news announcement that will get a lot of views, shares and comments is a lot of work. While your video shoot may take as little as a few hours, most of the work is in pre- and post-production. In addition, every video must be supported by a solid marketing plan.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll take you through each of the stages involved in creating a video announcement: Pre-production, the video shoot, post-production, and promotion. Let’s start with pre-production.

Define your target audience

Just as with any communications initiative, the first step is to define your target audience. In your research, you’ll find some groups are more receptive to video than others. For example, younger adults are more likely to watch video than older generations. According to Pew Research, 82% of 18-29 year olds use YouTube, but only 34% of those 65 and older do. And Facebook is likely the best place to post a video news item if you want to reach Generation X moms, data shows, while Instagram is best for younger Millennials.

Create a storyboard 

A storyboard is the video equivalent of an outline. Because it combines visual, audio, and written components, video can be more complicated to produce than a standard press release. Storyboarding – the graphical representation of all the elements of your video, arranged in the order of appearance – simplifies the process by allowing you to map the sequence at a high level. It makes it easier to envision the setting, the props, the announcer, and the flow of your words. To learn more about this process and to download some storyboarding templates, read this article, which offers a concise, clear explanation of what storyboarding is and how it works.

Write a script

Many believe that creating video is faster than creating a blog post because writing isn’t absolutely necessary. Nothing could be further from the truth. Do write a script and be sure your spokesperson rehearses before recording. A script ensures all the important points are covered, and rehearsals are invaluable for nailing the right tone and energy levels.

Choose a setting

Where you choose to shoot your video is as important as what you say and how you say it. Choose a spot meaningful to your announcement, but not overly cluttered. Be sure to avoid visually noisy backgrounds, which can be distracting. A clean, sharp background will help your spokesperson stand out. Likewise, steer clear of spots where sound easily interferes. Pick a quiet location, away from traffic noise and the hum of voices. Finally, consider a place that shows off the subject of your announcement. For example, if you’re promoting a new art exhibition, you may want your spokesperson to stand alongside a featured piece of artwork.


This upfront work may take some time, but it’s invaluable. The planning process can help you avoid mistakes, and it will vastly improve your final product. In my next post, I’ll discuss what qualities you should look for in an on-camera spokesperson. Check back soon for the next installment in this video series.

Bring the Maker Movement to Your Public Library

Libraries around the state celebrated NJ Makers Day last month (check out what the State Library did here). The fun doesn’t need to be limited to this one annual event. Here are some tips you can use for marketing your Maker events all year long.

What do Thomas Edison, Steve Jobs, Joy Mangano, and Toni Morrison have in common? Each one has turned an idea – or several – into reality. And all are great role models for the growing Maker Movement, a DIY community that encompasses technology, arts and crafts. Libraries across the country are supporting this educational movement by creating Makerspaces and holding Maker Faires. Back in 2013 the New Jersey State Library and LibraryLinkNJ, the New Jersey library cooperative, partnered to fuel these efforts financially, and last year announced a competitive grant program for NJ libraries to help fund mobile mini-makerspace kits for joint use by a partnering public library/branch and public school library (Kindergarten – Grade 8).

What exactly does a Makerspace look like? According to American Libraries Magazine, “Kids gather to make Lego robots; teens create digital music, movies, and games with computers and mixers; and students engineer new projects while adults create prototypes for small business products with laser cutters and 3D printers.”

Former President Obama considered the Maker Movement as a national priority because it encourages creativity and invention, can inspire more students to excel in STEM programs, promotes innovation, and has the potential to help solve societal challenges.

In many ways, the Maker Movement is a perfect fit for public libraries. It’s an extension of what many libraries already offer through writer’s groups and art exhibits. Makers benefit from the library’s extensive reference resources. But it’s also an excellent way to engage the community and increase visits to the library.

How can public libraries ensure the success of a Makerspace, hackathon or Maker Faire? Here are eight ways to spread the word, develop advocates, and excite the community.

  1. Engage local leadership

As part of the White House’s initiative, more than 100 mayors signed up for the Mayors Maker Challenge. This effort underscores a valuable marketing point for public libraries: The support of local leaders is instrumental in the success of your Makerspace.  Local officials can make important connections between your library and major corporations in town that may be willing to donate or even underwrite your program.

  1. Reach teens @ their favorite hangouts

To build awareness among teens, concentrate your promotions in the places they regularly frequent. Get permission from school administrators to post flyers in schools and have news of your Makerspace added to their morning announcements. Use Instagram and Snapchat to connect with teens online, get their feedback, and build their support.

  1. Cultivate support of teachers and parents

Both teachers and parents can be powerful advocates. Visit your local schools, and partner with teachers to design your Makerspace. Teachers are uniquely qualified to help you fill any gaps in your program. Be sure to provide communications support for teachers to help them talk to students. Handouts, checklists and other materials will make it easier for them to share information and details. Get parents on board by presenting your vision at PTA meetings.

  1. Seek Partners

Local non-profit foundations and businesses can support your Makerspace with equipment, resources and funding. For example, the Grable Foundation is one of several organizations that have helped create the Remake Learning Network, which has committed more than $25 million to support hands-on, personalized learning, including Making.

  1. Market with Word of Mouth

To reach teens, it’s imperative to market to everyone in the community. Be sure to promote events using all marketing tactics, including media outreach and flyers, as well as your website, social media and newsletter. But perhaps the most effective tactic is word of mouth, in no small part because you can gather feedback about what the community wants. Librarian Justin Hoenke told School Library Journal in 2013 that he found listening and paying attention to what visitors used when they came to the library helped him define his library’s Makerspace.

  1. Establish a Makers in Residence Program

Another effective strategy is to anoint ambassadors for your Makerspace. In Washington, D.C., the Friends of the Tenley-Friendship Library sponsored a Maker-in-Residence program for the district’s public libraries. As part of the agreement for being makers-in-residence, the winners conduct community workshops.

  1. Promote with Hashtags on Social Media

When promoting on Twitter and Instagram, be sure to use the hashtag: #NationOfMakers and #njmakersday. Doing so will help you reach community members who may not already be following your library’s account.

  1. Hold a Maker Faire

The Maker Faire is “part science fair, part county fair, and part something entirely new.” It brings together people of all ages who are interested in technology, crafts, science, artists and more. These all-day events are usually held on a weekend, and they are interactive and hands-on. In addition to showcasing the creations of Makers, they offer opportunities for attendees to create something of their own. The editors of Maker magazine have created a detailed overview of what goes into planning a local (or mini) Maker Faire.

Finally, if you’re looking for good ideas for Makerspaces, check out this Pinterest board Library MakerSpaces.

5 Unusual Marketing Books for Librarians

Technology seems to add another dimension to the practice of marketing every day, making blogs and newsletters the best way to stay up to date on the latest trends. But if you want to learn more about how to influence and persuade others, there are plenty of books that can teach you the principles of marketing.

However, it’s also helpful to understand the psychology behind what makes people choose the products and services they do and to understand how to tell a story that will influence their decisions.

The following five books do just that. You’ll find most are somewhat unusual recommendations for marketing professionals. But each offers a unique perspective and will help you create more effective campaigns.


  1. Thinking Fast and Slow, by Daniel Kahneman

How do people make decisions? Kahneman boils it down to two systems: “System 1 is fast, intuitive, and emotional; System 2 is slower, more deliberative, and more logical.” These findings suggest advertising campaigns can be more successful if they appeal to system 1. Either way, the book is a fascinating read about how the mind works.

A related recommendation: The Undoing Project, Michael Lewis. Kahneman developed his ideas in partnership with another Israeli psychologist, Amos Tversky, and their work was rewarded with a Nobel Prize in Economics. Lewis writes about the fascinating relationship between two extraordinarily intelligent men.


  1. Ogilvy on Advertising, by David Ogilvy

A classic work from the father of advertising. If you want to understand why Don Draper’s pitch for Kodak’s Carousel (an iconic Mad Men scene) worked, this is it. Of course, much has changed in advertising since Ogilvy wrote this book, but the marketing and advertising principles still apply.


  1. Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die, by Chip Heath and Dan Heath

This is a book about what makes ideas memorable. “Sticky” ideas share a number of traits: They’re simple, concrete, unexpected, credible, emotional and packaged as stories. The authors explain why and how you can apply these principles to improve your communications. The book is packed with plenty of memorable examples, such as the kidney heist.


  1. Slide-ology, by Nancy Duarte

The subtitle of this book is “The Art and Science of Creating Great Presentations,” but this book is an excellent instruction manual for how to tell a story visually. While Duarte – who worked with Al Gore to create his “Inconvenient Truth” talk – focuses primarily on Powerpoint, she also shares invaluable insight about story structure.

Tip: Durate’s TED Talk, The Secret Structure of Great Talks, is a must-watch.


  1. Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation, by Lynne Truss

In the age of text messaging, the survival of punctuation is increasingly at risk. Last year, a team of researchers found people who use a period to end a text message come off as less sincere. While there may be good reasons for this shift, and we should pay attention to changing communications norms, there’s still a good case to be made for proper punctuation. Without it, we might be sending the wrong message. Lynne Truss’s book makes a crisp case for paying attention to our commas and periods. Your marketing will be far more effective with clear and concise copy. It’s an excellent reference book to keep handy.


Chances are that each of these books is already part of your library collection. But I predict you’ll be tempted to add at least one to your personal collection!


How to Engage Millennials with Cause Marketing

How important is it for public libraries to engage Millennials as advocates and donors? The numbers tell a compelling story. As the largest living generation, today’s 75.4 million Millennials wield considerable influence. They drive $300 billion in annual spending and will be 50% of the workforce by 2020, according to the 2016 Millennial Impact Report.

In addition, they are much more generous than previous generations. In 2015, 72% of Millennial employees volunteered, 84% gave to a nonprofit, and 67% donated up to $499, the report found.

Nonprofits such as the United Way and Charity: Water are experimenting with new ways to win over this socially active, digitally oriented generation. They are engaging Millennials on social media, making mobile giving easier, and launching crowdfunding campaigns.

What marketing lessons can public libraries learn from these charities? By understanding what motivates Millennials and the tools they use to give and volunteer, public libraries can encourage more Millennials to support their local libraries.

Here’s what we know about this generation based on research.

  • When Millennials are passionate about a cause, they’re more likely to get involved.
  • They tend to give modestly to multiple nonprofits.
  • They’re also highly influenced by their peers and are more likely to volunteer if a peer or friend asks.
  • This generation will volunteer for a cause if they can use their skills or expertise to help.
  • They are heavy users of digital technology. The Millennial Impact Report found that 30% donated through an online/mobile platform other than the charity’s website.

These findings paint a distinct picture and are valuable for crafting cause marketing campaigns that will motivate members of this generation to get involved. Here are three ideas – based on the data – to consider.

  1. Partner with Area Businesses

Millennials prefer to work for socially responsible companies, and more than 80% see company-wide days of service and corporate-led charitable activities as important, according to Cone Communications. Public libraries can work with local corporations to develop volunteer programs that attract Millennials in the workplace. Makers’ Days, technology workshops, ESL classes and science programs can all benefit from this generation’s expertise.

  1. Launch an Online Campaign is a nonprofit with the “goal of motivating young people to make positive change both online and off through campaigns that make an impact.” Its online platform is a vehicle for creating and sharing charitable endeavors. Campaigns have included sending cards to deployed military personnel, helping older adults learn about technology, and encouraging people not to text and drive.

One campaign example relevant to public libraries is Library Card Leviosa, which aims to fight the “summer slide” by encouraging kids to sign up for library cards.

You can submit a campaign idea to or enquire about a partnership, but perhaps the best way to leverage this platform is to share existing campaigns, such as Library Card Leviosa, that align with your goals.

Other activist platforms include and

  1. Focus on Digital Marketing

Millennials prefer to get information about causes directly from the organization’s website, so be sure details of your volunteer or fundraising needs are easy to find and are optimized for reading on smartphones. Also, make it easy to share, give or sign up for activities that benefit the library on social media.

Given the size and impact of this generation, it’s important to find new and more effective ways to engage them. Their support of the public library will be critical for our future.


Podcasting Ideas for Public Librarians

Podcasts are a natural extension of the public library. They enable your staff to connect with people who can’t get to the library and are an excellent way to share information about library events and resources.

As you develop your podcast, the first question to ask is: “What should we talk about?”

To spark some ideas, here’s a look at public library podcasts around the country and the topics they’re covering on their shows. All are available on iTunes and on most of the libraries’ websites.


More Than Just Books, Warren-Newport Public Library, Gurnee, IL

This is a new podcast (just two episodes so far), but the Warren-Newport Public Library isn’t only talking about books and interviewing authors. They also plan to talk with community leaders. This approach can provide timely insight into the issues that matter in your community and help keep people informed.


Checked Out, A Virtual Book Club, Lexington Public Library, Lexington, KY

Librarians Alexa and Jenny talk about the books they’re currently reading and what they will be reading next. To add to their discussions, they also invite library staff members and readers to provide their expertise and viewpoints.


Everett Public Library Podcasts, Everett Public Library, Everett, WA

These podcasts are unique for their length – just 2-4 minutes each. Mr. Neutron reviews music, The Treatment covers film, and The Lone Reader talks about books. The Everett Public Library has also edited recordings in its oral history collection, making available local stories about past events, such as the depression, high school football and the circus.


Albany Made Podcast, Albany Public Library, Albany, NY

This new podcast focuses on the city of Albany, NY, and the library’s place in it. It explores local history, arts, culture and the function of the library in the community. It’s a great example of how you can use a podcast to help people understand how much the library contributes to the community.


Pint and Click, Des Plaines Public Library, Des Plaines, IL

This is a wide-ranging round-table discussion that covers more than books and movies. The hosts tackle a plethora of media, including popular new television series, mobile technology, virtual reality and much more.


MyCast, Mill Valley Public Library, Mill Valley, CA

This podcasting program was created by teens as part of a workshop, in which they wrote, edited and recorded their own works. The conversation ranged from cooking to politics to poetry. If you want to find a way to engage middle and high school students, helping them put together their own podcast is both fun and educational.


Tell Me Your Story, Iowa City Public Library, Iowa City, IA

Similar to the Everett Public Library’s local stories collection, Tell Me Your Story has mined a collection of video interviews, recorded between 1989 and 1992, with people who have “made a difference” in the life of Iowa City. By collecting stories about local people, this series preserved a piece of the city’s history.


As you can see, there are plenty of angles your podcast can take. For more examples, search iTunes for “public library.” Be sure to check out the podcasts offered by public libraries in New York City, Los Angeles, Seattle and Nashville.

How to Survey Your Community

A little bit of knowledge about your target audiences can make a big difference in the performance of your public library marketing campaigns.

But many of us hesitate to conduct market research because the costs and resources needed often seem out of reach for our budgets. However, there are ways to gather information without incurring steep expenses.

One advantage public libraries have is access to reference resources that include research from third-party and public sources, such as the Pew Research Center. But while reviewing the results of large-scale surveys provides insight into larger swaths of demographic groups, your community may have its own particular dimensions. Thus, it’s worth conducting some primary research to fine-tune your campaign.

Surveys are a great way to get real data on different demographic groups in your community. Although they can be somewhat costly to field, there are now much more affordable options. Web software such as SurveyMonkey enables individuals, small businesses, and nonprofits to design and field surveys at low- or no-cost.

To get the most accurate set of results, it helps to have someone on staff with experience in creating surveys. But even without this expertise, anyone can run a simple survey. There are two types of surveys: qualitative and quantitative.

Qualitative surveys are especially valuable for building “buyer personas,” which help tremendously in writing copy and designing communications strategy.

A qualitative survey is conducted in an interview format. As the researcher, you’ll identify 8-10 people in your target audience to interview. Be sure to set aside 20 minutes for each discussion, and ask if you can record your session. Then, create a survey questionnaire of 6-8 questions, which allows time for you to probe for the reasons behind the answers. For example, you might ask: Which sources do you use to learn about local events and why? What publications do you read and why? What topics interest you most and why? The answers will guide your distribution strategy.

Quantitative surveys, by contrast, can help you identify trends and attitudes. SurveyMonkey offers tips for conducting a successful survey. Here’s how they apply to public libraries:

  1. Set your goal. Before you begin crafting your survey, understand what it is you’d like to learn about the target audience. For example, you may want to ask about a new program you’re considering for small business owners. Some questions to ask might include: How often do you use the library? How useful would they find this new program (provide a description)? This will help you mold the program to their needs.
  1. Define your audience. For the program mentioned above, you’ll want to survey small business owners, and possibly startups and entrepreneurs as well, since these groups are your target audience.
  1. Determine sample size. This can be a bit tricky, but it’s a necessary step because you want to be sure you’ll have enough responses to make the results statistically accurate. SurveyMonkey offers a calculator to help you figure out how many people need to respond to your survey.
  1. Choose the best time to distribute. Your goal is to get as many respondents as possible, which will increase the reliability of your results. Choose a day and time when your target audience is likely to be available to answer the survey. For example, seniors may be more receptive during the daytime, while teens may be more likely to respond after 3 pm, when school is out. And of course, always avoid holidays and travel periods.

The more you know about your target audiences – who they are, what pain points they have, how they gather information and make decisions, and what preferences they have – the better you can craft a marketing campaign they’ll notice. Market research also can help you determine what services to offer, how to draft more influential marketing messages, and how to choose the best communications channels.