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Marketing and PR for Cultural Programs

May 4, 2009
Marketing and PR for Cultural Programs
"Pride & Passion: The African American Baseball Experience" poster

Several programming librarians share their top tips for successfully promoting a program. 

"Pride & Passion: The African American Baseball Experience" poster

Publicizing your program is just as important as planning the content. Ideally, you’ll want to make this part of your library’s overall marketing communications plan to maximize results. In the crowded media marketplace these days, both high-tech and high-touch are needed for success. In other words, send out your RSS feed, but make sure you talk up your events at the local Rotary or Chamber of Commerce meetings, too. We asked some of your programming colleagues to share their top tips and gathered a few into this blueprint for success.

Establish an Identity

Whether you create a logo or some kind of umbrella theme for cultural programming at your library, find a way to brand your programs so people will instantly recognize the library’s role. It might serve as a stamp of approval, a kind of shorthand for the quality the library represents. If the library already has a brand or tagline, find a way to use it; if not, create one.

Use an Information Checklist

For a program or event, use the old Five Ws approach for your communications: who, what, where, when, why. It’s a good checklist for invitations, press releases, posters, or brochures.

Encourage Word-of-Mouth Marketing

Peggy Barber of Library Communication Strategies has this to say: “Word-of-mouth marketing (WOMM) is the most powerful form of marketing…and we can afford it! Prepare a brief message sheet about the program and get the whole library family—staff, board members, Friends, volunteers, and program regulars—involved in helping to spread the word. Ask people to tell their friends. Create a BUZZ and build the audience—then ask all who attend to tell their friends about future programs.”


The exclamation mark on this tip comes from Penny Hummel, director of marketing and communications at the Multnomah County Library in Portland, Oregon, who suggests that partnerships can reach far beyond program content and be a cost-effective and powerful means to leverage your promotional budget. You need to be savvy enough to utilize the communication vehicles of your partners to get your messages out to different audiences than you normally reach.

Utilize Other Marketing Tools

The more programming you do, the better your toolkit will become. Besides word-of-mouth and cross-promotion, other standbys include:

•   event calendars (both the library’s and community calendars online, on air, in print, etc.);

•   media interviews, especially if the program features an author or other “celebrity” that will interest local print or broadcast media—don’t forget local cable outlets, free papers, etc.;

•   library signage before the event; and personal handing out of brochures and flyers at the circ desk and anywhere else you meet your target audience.

Date / Time
Monday, May 4, 2009 - 15:30
Library Type
Academic / College
School (K-12)
Job Functions