Two Short Shots

I’m prepping for NaNoWriMo which starts tomorrow, so a short catch-up.

Friday: 9 separate tasks. Training on DML, take & edit staff photo, fix a poster, update the events email to add two new things to it, write emails, help desk, make panels. The surprise: the new email design did NOT win. When I dug into the stats, I found out that for some reason it used number of clicks as the winner. Since they both had the same subject and from lines, that means the test was a complete toss.

Monday: I had lots of plans to do, but that all went out the window when I heard that the Children’s Library was going to do a Ghostbusters skit in the Reference Room. I pushed things aside to make animated ghost panels in Keynote (5 varieties), affirmed the details of music and location, arranged for a photographer, and then prepared the big camcorder to film it. Afterwards, I got recruited to take some photos of the Ghostbusters. In my head, visions of ghosts popping down, ways to seed the event on social media proliferated, and more. Maybe next year!

Branching Out

Today I increased our publicity outreach just a smidgen by posting our PR on a local community blog. I have the Lazarus Chrome extension so that helped streamline the repetitive data entry for each event. If I’m not mistaken, one of the events was then published by the blog directly onto their FB page which was nice.

Then I reorganized the weekly events email A variant back to the usual order for my desktop-using colleagues. Tomorrow the test goes out at 2 p.m. What I think will happen is that the new design will win because you’ll need to click to see the full event details. However, we’ll get some complaints about people wanting their 1-2 line summaries of each event and/or the lack of images. I’m really gunning hard here for mobile users to get rid of those usually filler images. Then next week I’ll continue tweaking the new design.

I then checked out the signage on our first floor in anticipation of some collection movement. My suggestions weren’t earth-shaking, but I sent them to the person in-charge for review to look at the temporary suggestion. Honestly, the change is going to be so extremely subtle that I don’t think many people will notice.

Next, I set up a few meetings to discuss upcoming publicity things, getting one group on a schedule and to stabilize their publicity output. Throughout all this, I attempted to watch that MailChimp webinar on targeted emails. Between technical difficulties on their side and being the only notary around, I missed most of it. I didn’t learn anything from what I did see.

Responsive Email Drives Me Batty

A significant number of our email newsletter readers read our messages on their mobile devices. So I tried to switch things up and better organize our usual email to be mobile-friendly. This caused some confusion with all three of my internal newsletter checkers who are looking on their desktop devices. One said she was seeing a confusing jumble on her iPhone (I thought you were Android! When did you betray us, M?!). At this point, I’m ready to ask them if we can nuke the traditional layout all together this week and just send out two beta tests on the new design. I don’t know how M managed to not lose her mind all this time with this three column layout. It’d be fine if we weren’t dealing with date-based information.

Is there a group/place online just for email designers? If so, hook me up!

I spent the morning working on slides for the PechaKucha. From the looks of it, it should work great since I’m telling a tight, emotional storyscape over the 20 slides. We’ll see if I can get through it next week without crying since I’m such a softie.

New Email Layouts


The only thing that mattered to me today is setting up two different email designs for the weekly events email. Above is a sneak peek. I just sent the newer design off to three reviewers to see what they think. The new one is mobile-first, reduced images, and more playful. I reviewed MailChimp’s inspiration site for ideas before trying something new.

The email design might get rejected for not including summaries of the events. That was a concern the last time I ran the weekly email and was testing designs. This week’s email has 20 different events in it. They get long fast. I’m trying to tighten them up while still being bold and readable. We’ll see how it goes over tomorrow when they see that design…

On a good note, my boss complimented me on yesterday’s Need to Know emails about the new publicity workflows. A+ to me.

Publicity Submission Form is Now Live

One of the things I first realized I’d need for this new job is a way to collect information from people. I eventually settled on a form after reviewing the publicity mechanisms of megachurches and academic libraries. The form was first built in Google Forms until I realized it couldn’t accept attachments. Then I redid it in JotForm. It then spent a week in review with four of my colleagues who made a few suggestions. Today I added a few more fields after reviewing the first two submissions.

The final form fields are:

* Reminder at the top to send me all items six weeks before the first publicity item to go out.
* Point Person to Contact
* Name of Project
* Intended Audience
* Event/Project Description
* Theme & Design Ideas
* How should the audience *feel* about the event/project?
* Website URL of post if available

The following section highlights potential publicity items. Not all projects will require all items nor will we have space to promote everything in each venue.

[a chart which lists potential publicity items on the left, a column for the date the item will go out, another for who is making the item, if they need help making it]

* If an event, request [us] to film it?
* Any other comments?
* Want an in-person consultation?
* Attach Images

I want the form to immediately send itself over to Asana into a catch-all submission inbox, but it doesn’t appear to go through. I’ll need to investigate why. But I’m on the back up on the submission, so I can just forward it on. Then over in Asana, I can make the email task into a special project of its own. I did realize that for very small projects like request for a single panel, I can leave it in the “inbox.” Then I turn and schedule it in my Google calendar as a to-do item.

My email to department heads and affected staff went over the following areas:

* TL;DR version at the top
* Fill out a form to tell me about your publicity needs
* What happens if I don’t tell you ahead of time?
* Goals
* Digital Signs/Panels (background info on the process I’ve been following since I was hired)

I then followed this up with an email to the other publicity-related staff:

* New exterior printing file requirements
* Coming Soon: Web Writing Class
* Which publicity pieces are staying the same
* What’s new
* How to add an Asana calendar URL to Google or Outlook calendars

The rest of the day
I did a grand total of 14 separate tasks today. The others were mostly emails, fixing something on the website, editing a staff photo for the website, creating more digital signs, reviewing text for someone, two weekly meetings, and then the fun stuff: setting up my own workflow processes.

I decided to create Asana projects for PR and the weekly events email. I then combed through all the emails of those two topics and dumped them into the project with each week being a different task. The PR emails actually go into an Outlook folder titled, PR Inbox to Do. Once I finish sending out all the PR in that email, I’ll then move the email to another folder.

There has to be a faster way to handle all these moving parts w/o me being so involved, but this seems like a logical starting place.

DDoS Left Me with TinyURL

I noticed immediately something was up when I couldn’t load Twitter. As the publicity manager, it made things a little annoying at work yesterday since I had some tweets to send out. However, it really got my goat when I was forced to use TinyURL for a short URL instead of Bitly which was apparently also a victim of the attack. It did bring to the forefront an idea I’ve had for years: get our own custom URL shortener. I already have an idea of what I want it to say. It’s a secret for now until I see if I get approval for it. Anyways, here on my glorious (ha!) flyer, you can see the impact of the DDoS attack:

Courtesy of Darien Library

Courtesy of Darien Library

Yesterday’s production items also included an author poster, creating a FB ad, and making a handful of digital signs. Then I kicked Outlook on desktop repeatedly as it ate my first weekly events email that I’ve sent out in a few years. By eat I mean that it randomly added a hard line breaks into two blocks. Since the email design is based on columns, this set everything else under it to wiggle sideways in confusion. I tried duplicating a working block into one of the bad spaces. That was fine. As soon as I changed the text, it acted up. Then a lovely tech support lady from MailChimp spent an hour helping me. She couldn’t get it stop happening either.

Ah! I have lots of plans for this email. I’m guessing that by Christmas it’ll look entirely different.

Finally, I had a one-on-one. Their original item they had asked for tech support wasn’t available, so I taught them how to use another device instead. The main thing I took out is that I love having a phablet. It’s big enough to see!

Almost Made It

I was off today thanks to Columbus Day, so I get to back up to yesterday’s adventures. Namely, I was on help desk for three hours and it was somewhat quiet enough in the afternoon that I could get some work done like switching out the Art Gallery page. I also finished the Mini Golf website, launched the FB ad for the event, sent my first press releases (nerve wrecking), and worked on the weekly events email.

With the email, I’m especially anxious to get it perfect each week before sending it to the two reviewers. It was once remarked that I care a great deal about the emails (as an admirable quality, I think was the intent), so I need to live up to that. That being said, I added three new features as my first act:

* Added a photo next to the Did You Know…? so it stuck out.
* Added a link to the previous video in a lecture series for the next meeting.
* Added an audiobook from Hoopla which means unlimited download opportunities. That is, you won’t eagerly click through only to be disappointed that there’s a waiting list. My colleague Stephanie selected the book for me. This feature is meant to be a filler for weeks when we have an uneven number of events.

I discussed with a colleague my idea of changing the events email to be more demographics focused. She thought it was a good idea. Now to see if I can add anchor links to an email so people can just hop to the section they want. I believe I’ve seen that in Smashing Magazine’s emails…

At the end of the day, I was foiled when I did a test print of the author flyer I designed. InDesign keeps putting a dark box for the backgrounds of transparent images. Our logo is on this flyer and… it’s ugly. I’ve seen it do this to dropshadow text too. I don’t know how to stop it from happening. My usual solution for transparent PNGs is to open it up in Photoshop and color the background to the same as the one it’ll go over. This is a terrible workaround. Got any ideas on how to stop this from happening? What I’ve seen on forums is “you need to do all this special conversion setup in the PDF before you export it” which seems like a really broken aspect of this program if so.

Two Hour Surprise!

I mentioned yesterday that I’ve been busy. For my first hour time slot, for instance, I had three things scheduled. Surprisingly, I got all three accomplished. The rest of the day…not so much. What threw me off was the invitation to resume joining the stats and department updates meetings. Way back in the old days, I used to attend these. I have my own little world of stats to report on (emails, video uploads, DML) and got to hear about publicity opportunities. At some point, I stopped attending. Now I’m back! I came out of the meeting in a good mood with actionable items I could take care of immediately. Plus, I like being in the know. :-)

So what did I get done today?

* Processed and edited a new video
* Did stats
* Had a one-on-one with a patron
* Finished a flyer
* Sent two banners for printing
* Finished two different flyer sizes for Mini Golf
* Met with my colleague to discuss a schedule for me to review her email newsletter each week (we all have to work together on these. It’s easy to miss something)
* Tried to figure out what error was happening between JotForm and Outlook so emails weren’t arriving

Tomorrow I’ll be on Help Desk for three hours and still have to finish up the Mini Golf website before launching it. We’re starting our real publicity push on Mini Golf tomorrow, so it needs to get done ASAP.

The Big Day

Today I attended the public services meeting to tell them what I heard from them, what we’re going to do, and future goals. I think it went well enough. My handwritten notes from my meetings with departments comes out to 13 pages in Google Docs. I distilled that into two handwritten pages for the meeting. Topics covered:

* Timeline (give me six weeks notice for most items)
* What is staying the same
* What is different
* We’re going to use a JotForm to send me publicity requests
* Some goals to strive for (mostly with analytics and audience research — gotta get my UX in there)
* Budget info
* All designers are moving to using InDesign for anything we want professionally printed
* I’ll be using Asana for project management. You’re welcome to join the board to see how the project is progressing
* Moving to content calendars for email newsletters and social media

Questions I received were:

* How are you going to prioritize requests? (Fundraising wins. I’d like to eventually get a rating system on what get priority)
* What does the form looking like?
* Will we have emails in the future for non-events but to highlight the Library’s story and services? (Yes!)

I then reassured them that this is all an evolving process where we’ll change things as needed to meet real world conditions. I scrambled to convert my Google Form to a JotForm post-meeting. Then I sent the form off to three of my colleagues to look over it.

This is also my first week taking on our weekly events email and press releases. I have some ideas for how to change up the weekly events email to be more useful. Once more of my old duties have been transferred over to the rest of the UX team, I’ll work on A/B testing my ideas.

Overall, there’s a lot more things to do than I have time to do them. Last week’s creation time of posters and flyers + extra desk time + staff meeting, really ate up my time. This week I’m taking Thursday off to make up for working on Columbus Day. So my schedule tomorrow is double and tripled book in some slots while I try to get everything done. I’m hoping that eventually we’ll hire a PT graphic designer to help with this. It’s a lot of work for one person!

New Camera + Web Writing

When I took staff photos earlier this year, I borrowed the CL’s camera which is a Canon Rebel T5. My boss purchased a Nokia to replace the UX’s tired camera. The first staff photos I took were washed out and lacked the depth of detail the other camera was capturing. Then Manny, our videographer, worked with me to reset the camera to be more compatible with a lighting environment he could use for film and I could photograph in. I still have to drag the lights down to a certain angle, but I can now take photos of our new staff without too much hassle. They’re not as good as the original photos, but they’ll pass. So this is how I spent 3 hours last week — tracking the new staff down, taking their photos, sending the photos for selection, and then editing before getting them online.

I then made 10 new digital signs and created my first flyer meant for distribution outside of the Library’s building. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it’d be — mostly because the author’s headshot is stunning. Hopefully I’ll finish it on Monday and can then share it on here. The work I’ve spent on it so far is 90 minutes.

The other assistant director — my boss is one — called me in for a meeting to discuss designing temporary and permanent signage for our first floor. The temporary ones aren’t too scary, but the long-term ones certainly are. The building’s current aesthetic is small all-caps metal signs above doorways. I guess they’re 4-5 inches in height. She mentioned using other materials to design the signs. This is absolutely no pressure, whatsoever. It also goes on that list of “things they never warned you about in library school.” I have about two weeks to do research for the temporary signs while we shift collections around on the first floor.

I then finished the day off by answering emails and correcting content on the website. It looks like we’ll need to have a web writing class so I can get everyone on the same page. For instance, drop the double spaces between sentences (Slate has a funny but convincing article on the topic). I’ve already converted one staffer to embracing headers. It’s now time to get the others on board. I wasn’t really apart of the “how to use the website” classes taught by my boss prior to the new site’s launch since I was busy pulling content from everyone. So with a little help, I am looking forward to getting this straightened out. In fact, I was reassured that branding like this is part of publicity. This is something I used to be heavily invested in, but outgrew the emotional investment in a few years ago. Time to bring it back.