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TL v61n3: After the Handshake
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Tennessee Libraries

Volume 61 Number 3



After the Handshake: Practical Steps for

Creating Harmony and Unifying the Brand Message


Heather Lambert, Emerging Technologies Librarian

Kristen Keene, External Relations Specialist

James E. Walker Library
Middle Tennessee State University

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In 2010, the Walker Library underwent changes that dramatically altered our services, space and staffing.   A comprehensive plan solidifying the library’s image and message was essential.  We focused on the positive outcome of the library’s change: the expansion of services. Our core message became find it all. here.  To communicate this message we crafted a blended approach focusing on promoting services and reaching specific audiences.  Combining the distinctive elements of our transition into a cohesive identity allowed us to explain new services and partners. Tailoring the marketing message to distinct users allowed us to utilize specific tools and stretch our resources.

Our primary objective was to inform stakeholders of library changes and educate them regarding new value added options.  Equally important was the need to solidify the library’s image and identity.  We felt it was critical to create positive buzz and invigorate library faculty and staff.  Finally, we wanted to use this opportunity to open channels of communication with faculty groups that had been previously dormant.  Success would be determined by increased social media usage, increased use of services, high or meaningful participation in the capstone events, and improvement in staff morale and overall library communications.

How we did it

Our plan was to host three main events, one for each demographic.  Fall Kickoff 2010 was for library faculty and staff.  Faculty Preview Day was for campus faculty and The Amazing Race was for students.   We also participated in campus wide events and regularly scheduled promotions, such as departmental fairs and freshman orientation, where we introduced the find it all. here initiative. 

First, we scheduled the events including the venue and staff involved, always keeping in mind when students and faculty would be on campus and when campus wide events were scheduled.   Then we worked backwards, creating a marketing and event calendar.   We tried to schedule 180 days in advance.  From there we backtracked at least 60 days and scheduled the marketing launch.   This window gave us time to phase in strategically the marketing and promotional materials as well as work out the logistics of the actual event.  We went back another 30 days for the creation dates.  For example, we would design a postcard that would be mailed in 30 days to market an event that was to happen in 60 days.  The calendar made it possible for the two of us to get many different pieces together.  We created the materials in house and, with one exception, had them printed in house.  We handled the distribution of emails, flyers, social media and web updates. Student workers helped us with campus signage and mailings.

The Fall Kickoff and the Amazing Race required cooperation with the library’s Internal and External Relations committees, respectively.  The Internal Relations committee helped decorate, sponsor games and tours, donated food and did clean up.  For the Amazing Race, the External Relations committee helped set up the clues, get approval from staff areas to sponsor the event, and monitored the race.

Faculty Preview Day

We sent emails and snail mailed a preview postcard, a save the date postcard and an invitation.  We also sent out campus wide emails, got a story in the Record (campus faculty/staff newspaper) and wrote a story for our library newsletter.  We asked library staff to connect with their campus partners and invite them as well.  On the day of the event we had 37 professors who came and played bingo to learn about the new ILS.  They also received a handout outlining other library changes. The Dean and the Digital Media Studio manager invited them to tour the library and take advantage of our new services.  We did another ILS preview for the College of Business, reaching another 20 faculty.

Faculty Supporting Events

We spoke to 85 faculty members at New Faculty Orientation, gave them a preview of the ILS and a handout summarizing new options at the library.  As a result, 15 faculty members contacted us about tours, library instruction and classes in the Digital Media Studio. 

We gave librarians postcards with the find it all. here logo summarizing changes in the library. They gave these out when meeting with campus faculty.  We also emailed them talking points to use in meetings. Our librarians met with departmental faculty liaisons, attended academic department staff meetings, and met with all University 1010 (freshman orientation class) professors. 

We hosted open houses for our new partners the University Writing Center and the Learning, Teaching and Innovative Technology Center.

Fall Kickoff 2010

At the daylong event we celebrated our hard work and gave out trophies to the committees that developed the Digital Media Studio and implemented the new ILS.  We did mini tours of the Digital Media Studio, Starbucks, University Writing Center, Learning, Teaching and Innovative Technology Center and Adaptive Technology.  We did bowling in the stacks, find it all. here. bingo, hole in one golf and book truck derby. Internal Relations donated food for the day.  We ended the event with a staff wide paper airplane contest off the top floor of our 72 foot atrium.  We handed out party favors and gave gift certificates to Starbucks for each game winner.  We posted flyers in the elevators and staff spaces, sent emails, personal mailed invitations and did updates in the library enews. We also made an effort to update staff on the find it all. here campaign through emails, library signage and enews. 

Student workers received a find it all. here flyer summarizing the changes and inviting them to follow us on Facebook and Twitter to keep up to date.  This was our biggest surprise.  We gained 187 friends on Facebook and many of them have become active advocates and promoters of the library!

Walker Library Amazing Race

This event was held during a busy week in the semester.  We asked participants to visit various points in the Library and on our website to find clues. Completed entries were entered into a drawing for a Kindle.  This was paid for with money donated to the Library through the MTSU Foundation. We promoted this event via Facebook, Twitter, our Library blog, our LCD atrium screen, Library website, Stall Wall (signage in restrooms), Lift Notes (signage in elevators) and with a QR code campaign. We also told University 1010 classes, student workers, the student government, and contacted the student newspaper. 

We created a find it all. here website at . The QR code pointed to this website.  We printed 200 QR codes and posted them on bulletin boards all over campus.  There was no identifying information on the QR code.  We received 56 page views in the first three days.  To date we have received 183 page views from unique visitors.

We also spoke with students during our annual question tent on the first two days of classes.  We met 2,600 incoming students at 12 Customs sessions held over the summer.  They all received find it all. here bookmarks.   Campus tour guides were retrained and given our find it all. here flyer. We met with the Student Government Association and began an ongoing dialogue with them concerning new events and services at the library. 

Tips for Success: How you can integrate new services into your library

Select your target audience- Narrow your focus from the larger demographic.  (e.g., students, library faculty and staff, university faculty)  Choose no more than three groups.

Choose one main event for each user group- Make sure the events are informative, quick and most important, fun. They should spark an interest in the library and make it clear that new services are available.

Create a marketing and event calendar- Start with the day of the event and go back 120 days to begin creating your marketing materials.  Begin marketing no later than 60 days prior to the event.

Identify a theme that communicates your message- Walker Library had new partnerships and services and we needed a message and a direction that was unified.  We created find it all. here. This is a message that pulls together old and new services and makes our library a destination.  

Make sure all communications from your library contain your theme- Put your message everywhere.  This should be a library wide effort. 

Take credit for partners’ successes- Fold new services under your umbrella. For example, Starbucks is not a Library service, but by including Starbucks in our campaign we get credit for having a value added service.

Pay attention to when your user groups are available- Don’t compete with other community events (e.g., spring break, major football games, holidays)

Take into account the best time & method to communicate with each user group- For example, use social media for student groups and snail mail for faculty.

Get internal staff on board to help sell changes- Communicate with staff early and often. Don’t keep them in the dark and don’t hoard information, and most importantly, don’t assume they know what is new in your library.


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