I’m definitely not suited for PR. PR is all about patting yourself on the back and saying “look at how great we are.” I’m much more interested in a conversation that goes “what do you need, oh yeah? Well check this out.”
I’ll never be a library director because I cringe at pageantry. We had our official ACRL Library of the Year presentation today. It just wasn’t my thing. We went carnival style with the marching band, hotdogs, soda, and lots of speeches. But what I really like is that at the same time we offered alternative programming in another location. We had two students present research, one on the student/faculty relationship via FaceBook, the other on the changing face of television with respect to gender and sexual identity.
Right now our admin team is having a “dignitaries” lunch with all the important people on campus. What we missed out on was a chance to interact with students more directly. I think you can spread the word to the masses with a free hotdog and the school mascot jumping around, but we should have pulled together a second lunch for student connectors. (I hate using Gladwell’s term.) Something like this:
Get someone from SGA, someone from the campus radio and tv stations, the president of the Chinese Student Group, someone from the photography, BBQ, and Dance organzations, a few members from Greek community, a leader from the environmental group, the human rights group, the college republicans, and so on. Get 30 or so diverse personalities that are active around campus and treat them to a decent lunch and say something like: “Ok, so we won this award. Right now our Director is meeting with the President, Provosts, Deans, and Donors. They’re basically trying to get more money. You guys are important because you’re the ones who are going to help us spend it. And so on…” Start with a basic focus group, lay out future plans and ideas, but what I really want to dig into is who these people are. How do their groups function? What types of influence do they have? How can we package our message differently (relevantly) to each? How are their needs unique and similar? Where do they succeed and where do they struggle? Use this lunch to nurture relationships with influential students and promote overall good-will for the library.
Back in the 20th century it was all about location, location, location. Now it’s all about segmentation, segmentation, segmentation.
Anyway, I’m off to Orlando for the week. My brother’s getting married. He’s the one with a wife, a nice car, and the free trip to Europe when he graduated from high school. Hmmm, maybe I’m bitter?