How do you want the library to be seen in relation to the community?
Communicating, influencing, building relationships
Marketing is customer oriented and has a primary purpose of selling a product. PR concentrates more on selling the library as a whole, developing a corporate identity or image, and disseminating a clear message to the community about library mission and goals. Marketing audits and market research are useful in the development of a corporate identity, and careful planning is required. Larger libraries may have separate PR departments and budgets.
Glossary of Marketing Definitions from IFLA defines public relations as "the form of communication management that seeks to make use of publicity and other non-paid forms of promotion and information to influence feelings, opinions or beliefs about the agency/library and its offerings. This is a traditional form of communication for library management, as paid advertising media is rarely used."
Promoting your message
The same methods used in marketing are used in public relations to let people know who and what you are and to build relationships with the media. Examples include press releases, newsletters, brochures, annual reports, or well-designed publications. Plans may include:
Not everyone loves libraries! Not everyone uses libraries or finds them worthy of funding. Sometimes successful public relations involves overcoming negative attitudes.
Advertising involves a purchase from a media source (newspaper, TV station, web marketer). Libraries can prepare their own advertising and pay for placement, or pay to have the advertising materials developed by the media retailer. Public relations more often relies on free publicity instead, and some libraries have a policy of using only free publicity.
PR and library image
PR helps establish the library's image and position within the community. Public libraries "provide services and programs that support literate, productive, and informed communities" in these ways:
ALA Fact Sheet, "Libraries Build Community," Sarah Long, past president, 2000-2001.
These are the concepts that good public relations can communicate, establishing a clear corporate identity or image, and disseminating a clear message about library mission and goals.
Public relations involve promoting the library as a whole, developing an identity and image, and communicating library goals and mission to the community. For marketing, public relations, or advertising the ultimate goal is the same -- let the community know what you have to offer.
The Communications Standard of the Ohio Public Library Standards, part A, Public Relations, states that "All Ohio residents should be made aware of and encouraged to use the public library's services. The library provides a coordinated effort to communicate a positive image of the library and to promote the availability of the library's materials, programs, and services."
Power of the card!
Library Support.net - 50 ways to use your library card!
Blogs and RSS
Blogs and RSS can serve to communicate about the library as a whole: New Ways of Delivering Service: Blogs and RSS.
Business of library public relations
A resource guide created by Geoff LoCicero for USC's CLIS Business Information Sources and Services course.
Public relations resources & links
Public Library Standards for Communications:
Business communication buzzwords
Add library jargon to marketing jargon, and you may need a source for definitions of buzzwords. Check The Buzzword Compliant Dictionary from BuzzWhack. Buzzword is defined as "a usually important-sounding word or phrase used primarily to impress laypersons." Business, marketing, advertising, and public relations apparently produce an impressive percentage of new business buzzwords!