Monday, March 18, 2013

How Libraries Can Engage the Community

Here are some event strategies that we at Sporting Chance Press have seen work for libraries attempting to engage their communities:

1. Brand your event series. If you brand your events, each time you promote one, you promote the series.
2. Seek a media sponsor for those branded events. If you have a media sponsor, they can contribute to costs and they will most likely be willing to help insure that your events are well publicized.
3. Work with like-minded organizations and mine their relationship. For example, say you have a sponsoring newspaper and you see that a large fitness club is a frequent advertiser in the paper. Seek out a sponsorship relationship with the fitness club as well. The club and the media sponsor can work together to promote your events.
4. Keep your library board and trustees in the loop, especially if you have celebrities coming to put on events. Use the events to strengthen the relationship with the board and give the board members an opportunity to meet with the speakers.
5. Make sure photographs are taken at the event and sent to media outlets. Often post-event publicity is just as important as pre-event publicity when it comes to a series event. This is lost on many organizations, but most media like photos of events and those are often only available after the event occurs.
6. Make sure your event is fun and keep your sense of humor even if you have a low turnout. Give those who attend special thanks and don't be discouraged.
7. Help insure a crowd one way or another. Invite your local high school cheerleader squad or like kind group to kick things off. Photos can be taken for the school paper!
8. Have a prominent place on your library web site for keeping information on a series event, even long after it is finished so people can view the whole program of what you offer over a long period of time.
9. Create attractive posters if you can afford them, distribute them to community sites and keep a copy on  your web site. Use lots of color!
10. Consider the time of your events carefully. If it is easy to have your event at noon on a weekday, but your attendance for such events has been poor, consider moving it to the evening, even if it is not convenient for staff.
11. Consider two speakers with related topics for one event. For example a diet and exercise program with a dietician and a personal training may increase attendance. An author who writes books that appeal to young boys might need to be teamed with an author who writes for young girls if you need to attract school  groups.
12. Put any event disappointments or disasters to the side for a few moments, and think positively for more ideas. You can do it! 

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