Friday, May 30, 2008

What’s In a Name?

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet." Sorry, but we might have to disagree with Juliet’s famous line on this one!

When the July edition of The Dewey hits your library in June, you will notice the accompanying library specific piece got a brand new name: Programs and Events.
Not to separate the flyer from The Dewey, because they literally go hand in hand, but hey, it can stand on its own two feet! On a serious note, we believe the new masthead will make the piece a bit more user-friendly, so that patrons will know exactly where to find happenings, programs and special events at their library. In addition, we’ve incorporated the month and year in the masthead. On the heels of The Dewey’s honorable mention in the 2008 Hermes Creative Awards competition (read more about it in this week’s Monday Morning on StaffNET!), we continue to look for ways to make a great publication and even better newsletter! In the communications/public relations field, we are constantly thinking outside the box and looking ahead to better meet the needs of our target audience – in this case, our cherished library patrons!

What do you think of our new masthead? Please feel free to offer up suggestions!

What is Newsworthy? Photos Can Help!

Determining whether an organizational announcement, event or a program is newsworthy is a struggle that Communications professionals face quite often. Although there is no exact science, I usually look at several factors when I gauge whether I will distribute a news release on an Arapahoe Library District news item or program. These factors include proximity, human interest, significance, timeliness and prominence.

How can we ensure coverage? Unfortunately, we can’t – there are no guarantees in the world of media. However, some helpful attention grabbers include quality photos. Anything to better illustrate an event or an idea to give it that “human interest” color always helps. So, I encourage ALD staff to grab that digital camera and click away this summer. Perhaps you will take that one shot that can win the Summer Reading Staff Photo Contest. Read more on staffnet’s home page.

Wanted: Summer Reading Photos!

Tomorrow is the kickoff for many of the Summer Reading events at ALD. The communications department needs your help taking photos for the August issue of The Dewey. Anyone with a camera can participate! Here are a few tips for taking photos of people from an amateur:

1) Closeup is Key. For several reasons -- closeup photos crop out much of the background clutter and captures facial expressions. Also, a photo release is needed for pictures published in The Dewey, which is difficult to obtain for everyone in a large crowd.

2) Lighting. Outdoor lighting takes the guesswork out of lighting your subjects, but watch out for harsh shadows. Indoors, use a flash and stand within five feet of your subject matter. Most digital cameras now have features to remove red-eye.

3) Obtain a photo release. For any photos, especially of minors, that will be used in a commercial publication, a photo release is required. An ALD photo release can be downloaded from StaffNET.

Please see the recent StaffNET article on entering the Summer Reading Photo Contest, and snap away!!!

Photographers -- your comments and extra photo tips are welcome.

Friday, May 23, 2008

DVD Security Project Feedback

Approximately a month ago we rolled out the new DVD Locking Cases throughout the Library District. We sent signage, bookmarks, case labels, and put together a web video and screen savers...and so I'm curious -- how did it go? I'd love to hear feedback about this campaign from a communications aspect. Did you, as library staff, feel adequately prepared for the rollout? Do you think the campaign helped prepare patrons for the change, or has it been a fairly slow rollout, in which case, do you think it may be too soon to tell? Thanks for your feedback and ideas!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Power to Persuade Patrons

Did you know that you have the power to persuade patrons? As a staff person at the Arapahoe Library District, you are a patron resource. Every time you come in contact with a patron – whether it’s assisting with extensive research, or just a friendly hello – you could very well formulate that person’s opinion on the Library District. A website dubbed “The Business of Library Public Relations” encourages library trustees to do the following, but as Library District staff, we should all consider these invaluable endeavors:
· Be vocal, visible, and well informed; use your library and spread the word about its services and successes
· Look for opportunities to build a positive image for the library
· Tell people about the library's programs, progress, and plans
· Be an advocate for all libraries; talking about the merits of quality library service and the importance of reading
· Get to know local officials and persuading them to support the library
· Listen to the community; be the library's eyes and ears
Does it sound like a lot of effort? It doesn’t have to be if you just carry out our mission each day, which is to provide Outstanding and Personalized Service. It’s key to remember that positive public relations – and that includes direct patron contact – ensures patrons know the valuable contribution the Library District makes to our community.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Out With the Old, In With the New!

With the advent of our brand new ALD Communications blog, it seemed only fitting to give the Communications Department “home” on StaffNET a makeover! If you haven’t stopped by yet, please do, as we are “rolling out the welcome mat” and open to any suggestions and feedback.

Besides the friendly, happy faces of the Communications Department, you will notice the new purple color scheme (our group is a BIG fan of purple . . . the June edition of The Dewey, anyone?). And . . . in case you’re wondering, the pan in the picture absolutely matches the color scheme and design of The Dewey (who knew The Dewey had a twin!?). Stop by Ross to grab one for yourself!

Other helpful features on our StaffNET page include a direct link to this blog so you can quickly access the latest and greatest blog posts from the Communications team. Speaking of blogs, you will find the District’s newly drafted Blogging Guidelines under the “Decision Announcements” tab. In addition, notice the tab labeled “current edition of The Dewey.” That’s right! Now, you can view The Dewey in PDF format right on your computer screen – convenience at its best!

We view the page as a continually evolving, dynamic piece and to quote directly from the opening paragraph, “we hope you will find this page a useful tool in your effort to communicate, both with District staff and the outside world.” If there’s any content or helpful information and tips you would like to see on our page, please let us know! We are here to support your communications needs and make ALD the best Library District around.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Customer Service...From Lattes to Doughnuts to Books

From Starbucks Coffee to Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, and even Subway Sandwiches and Cold Stone Creamery, a good part of my career has been focused on Local Store Marketing and Customer Relations. So, how does that experience translate to Arapahoe Library District? Even though we may not be focused on driving store traffic, and moving cups of coffee, we are still in the business of delighting our customers, and offering excellent customer service, are we not?

Starbucks Coffee focused on being the “third place” – that place between home and work where people would go to unwind, check email, meet friends and even be seen. Krispy Kreme Doughnuts wanted to “Create Magic Moments” for their customers, by going the extra mile – helping someone out to their car with their doughnuts and coffee or handing a new customer a free “sample” of a hot fresh doughnut, right off the line.

It might not surprise you that those goals and simple gestures didn’t simply come automatically for the baristas and staff at each of those companies. It is a well-orchestrated dance that is taught and reiterated on a daily basis (sometimes successfully and sometimes, not-so-much...if you have ever frequented those places, you have probably experienced a little bit of both.) And sometimes these ideals are the first to slip in rough times. As you likely heard in the news, Starbucks Coffee Company recently closed all of its stores for a re-training of the staff. Not only was it a brilliant publicity move, it communicated to the staff and the world a renewed focus on the customer.

Since joining the Arapahoe Library District, I have been more than impressed by the focus on the customer. On every level, I have seen a wonderful endeavor to recognize the patron as the backbone of our existence, and our “raison d’ĂȘtre” – as they should be.

Your communications team wants to help support that effort. In the near future we will be putting together a small incentive program to encourage good customer service while having fun at the same time.

We’d also welcome your ideas for helping to build relationships with the patrons, and ways the communications department can help facilitate good customer service.

Operation Program Participation Boost

It has been brought to my attention that our program participation numbers are in need of a boost.

The main message we need to communicate to patrons is: FOR PROGRAM AND EVENT INFORMATION, PICK UP THE DEWEY. I don’t believe it is clear to patrons that The Dewey houses all program-related information. Therefore, we need to be intentional in clarifying, for patrons, where they can find the latest and greatest program/event information.

Take a few minutes to read about some of the fun marketing tools that each library will soon receive. Table tents, posters, signage in bathroom stalls, new (and improved) library-specific handouts, screen savers…to the rescue!

Posters: We will provide each library with large, 4-color posters to be displayed in a prominent location.

Screensavers: The screensavers will match the posters. In addition, we are creating children, teen and adult specific screensavers that read: FOR INFORMATION ABOUT TEEN PROGRAMS AND EVENTS, PICK UP THE LATEST COPY OF THE DEWEY. Some libraries may already have the “general program” screensaver. If you don’t have the screensaver yet, you will soon.

Table Tents: We have tallied the number of tables at each library and have purchased acrylic table tents for each table, at each library. We have created table tents that match the look of the posters and screensavers. These table tents will be another great way to promote the featured programs and Library District initiatives as well!

Library-Specific Handouts: Beginning with the July edition (which will be available in early June), you will notice that the masthead of the library-specific pieces will now read: PROGRAMS AND EVENTS. Until now, the masthead has read: THE DEWEY, which is a bit confusing to patrons. The two pieces were too similar design-wise and really, looked like the same piece. We hope that the “new and improved” library-specific handout masthead will help clarify things.

Signs in Bathroom Stalls: We will provide each library with acrylic flyer-holders to post on the doors of the bathroom stalls. I believe a library came up with this brilliant idea and is already making it happen. Ginger will be in touch with each of you soon to tally the number of “flyer holders” needed.

Website: We will post a brief feature article on the website that highlights how patrons can find out about programs and events at the libraries.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Get the Word Out: Publicity 101

I know readers of the ALD Communications blog may be curious about the vast world of public relations and our role in the process. And, as the Publicity Specialist for the Library District, I would be happy to share my thoughts on Publicity 101.

What brings our patrons to our libraries?
According to, publicity is defined as extensive mention in the news media or by word of mouth or other means of communication. In a nutshell: free advertising for the Library District! We are so fortunate in the world of libraries to have an iron-clad reputation in the community. We share our valuable resources – books, magazines, CDs, DVDs, computers, databases, facilities, events and more – AND we spread literacy in under-served areas – not a bad combination.

Although we have stellar support from our community, we can’t sit back and wait for our patrons to come through our automatic doors. We must reach out and bring them in and that is where I come in. Each week, I review the upcoming ALD events and programs, and then pick and choose some potentially news worthy items, draft a news release and distribute the release to the appropriate contact at a media outlet.

What makes an event newsworthy? I am looking for edgy and different – not your “typical-library” event, but an atypical event. I want readers to note, “Wow! I didn’t know they did THAT at the library.” It is important to note that not every event has a news release distributed on its behalf, and more importantly, those that do have releases sent out only have a small chance of making it to ink. So, don’t feel slighted if you don’t see a full page spread with photos in Sunday’s Denver Post.

Building a Fan Base
If our publicity is printed or aired in the media, it lends credibility to our efforts and furthers our patron base of support. That is our end goal, because not only will it have an immediate effect on library and event attendance, but could also indirectly help us in an election when we may have to seek our community’s support down the road.

If you ever have any questions, or have strong feelings about whether your program garners extra publicity efforts, please call (ext. 19103) or e-mail me (
- Michelle Cingrani

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

I can see clearly now.....

Thanks to all of you who provided feedback and input regarding the colors of StaffNet! Based on your suggestions, I worked with DS to tweak a few things. Now, there is better contrast between the text and the background. Also, when you click on the hyperlink, it doesn't fade away into the background. Take a look at StaffNet now and let me know if it is more visually-appealing!