Planning Overall Library Program Themes for the Year

One of my jobs as publicity manager is to help departments find opportunities to work together on programs and services. As such, I found out their general program themes for the year. I then grouped these together in our wiki under two organizational schemes: by department and by season.

The information is pretty general so it remains flexible. For instance: Summer Reading Kick-Off: June. It doesn’t list the program theme or the actual start date. I arranged the seasonal information by ABC order. By department, by time.

I then immediately made use of the new resource by linking to it in an email for publicity planning, “Need help thinking ahead as to what we’ll be up to in this time period? View the seasonal program guide.”

New Census Bureau Tools for Businesses

I just saw a very exciting update from the U.S. Census Bureau. The Census Bureau has two new features for businesses:

* Regional Analyst Edition (click on My Location to have it auto-generate the location)
* Census Business Builder: Small Business Edition

These tools will help businesses better target their customers. I’m interested in this thanks to my previous work with my colleague, Mallory, on tools librarians can use to help their business patrons.

Wanted: Help Archiving the EPA Website

I’ve found a way to make myself useful. I’m adding pages from the EPA’s website to the Internet Archive. As such, I’ve found perhaps hundreds of pages which are not archived yet. This bookmarklet is easier to use than the official one. Why? It does it within the page w/o opening a new one.

What to Do
* Install the bookmarklet above to your browser.
* Go to a page of links (like the first one in the following section) and then CTRL + left click on all the links.
* Then go through each page clicking the bookmarklet.
* When you’re done, work your way back across each open tab by clicking the back button. Then scroll down and look for additional links + PDFs.
* Close the tabs as you work your way back across them.
* Sometimes it’ll time out so you need to hit the back button, then try the bookmarklet again.

Things to Know
* If it’s a PDF, it usually downloads to your computer. Annoying. Right now I don’t know how to get those in the Internet Archives, but hold onto them.
* If the PDF is hosted online, you can click the bookmarklet to add it to the Internet Archive.
* If the website/page doesn’t allow robot.txt, you can’t add it to the Archive.
* If you notice that you’re working through pages which have been recently archived, go find another set to go through. It’s a better use of your time to find pages which have never been archived before. These random reports haven’t gotten any IA love before.

Pages to Start With
* Air Research Products in the Science Inventory
* Science Inventory pages

If you’re interested in strategically going through the EPA site with me, let me know. We can make a plan of action to go through and get the pages in.

Current Publicity Workflow

I’m feeling a little better about how I’m doing at this new job. Using Asana to track projects is working well. My current workflow is such:

* Get a request for publicity help. If it’s complex, I schedule an in-person meeting.
* We meet in person. They tell me the scope, their dreams, and desired outcome. We discuss how to reach their audience. We sketch out our plan of attack.
* I go back to my desk and put it in Asana. Simultaneously, I cross-check due dates with my Google Calendar where I track the blocking out of time to work on projects.
* Then I use Asana’s project-level print view to print out the plan and deliver it to my colleague. It seems to impress the hell out of them to get a physical sheet of paper in hand.

I’m also trying to live up to the advice I got from the Cecily Walker interview I co-did with Michael Schofield on behalf of Circulating Ideas. The advice: pad your time. When I’m setting up my schedule for the following weeks, I block out an hour a day called “Downtime.” This is really code for “wiggle room” as things come up as they always do. Yesterday for instance, my day got hijacked for three hours. However, at the end of the day, I managed to get all my major tasks done thanks to the set aside time.

Facebook Services

Courtesy of Darien Library

Do you know if you convert your library’s Facebook account into a business account, you can add Services to it? We made the transfer so we could buy ads on Instagram. Insider tip: this gives you an extra hurdle to do anything even something simple like post on your account.

I couldn’t figure out what I should really do with services. There is pretty much no info on FB itself (kept 404-ing) and the web wasn’t talking about. So I winged it.

Things to know:

* You can’t adjust the images’ location like you can for your profile pic.
* You only get 200 characters to describe it.
* I chose to use generic terms for services (i.e. not giving the actual name of our cafe) since I figured people would be searching for cafe instead of Cafe’s Official Name. I may even go back and change it out to Food and Drinks to be even more generic.
* I’m not sure what the best practice is for how many services to add, so maybe experiment with what looks right to you?
* Organize your services to be in most appealing order to your community.

The little bit of info I gleaned off the web is that Facebook Services is meant to be a way to connect users with local services. I hope it pans out for us! I’d like to talk with other libraries which are using the Services tab.

Fixing Dates in Excel

I was inspired by a project in my marketing class to dig through our data to look for some basic demographics information. Very quickly I got hit with Excel acting up on dates. All I wanted was the year.

* Highlight the column in question.
* Go to Home > Cells > Format > Format Cells.
* Choose Date then select *3/14/2012 > OK.
* Go to Home > Cells > Format > Format Cells.
* Choose Custom then in the box below Type, change it to yyyy.

Ta-dah! I kept trying to do delimited and text-into-columns, etc. Garbage kept coming out.

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.

Getting My Publicity Manager Work In Order

Summer Loving
I just realized that it’s been nearly two months since staff were told about my new role as publicity manager. It’s been a long transitional period. My awesome colleague Alex left us two weeks before the website launch which shifted the workload around a bit. My other teammate took most of it, but the little incidentals and knowledge base Alex managed soon showed up. So over the summer after the site launched, my time was spent catching up with all the publicity requests and answering questions. One-on-one requests popped up like flowers after a rainstorm. It was a busy time.

New Job Catch Up
Once I was placed into my new role, my first task was to interview department heads and key people about their publicity workflows. I also stuck questions in there about their hopes and pain points. This took place over the three weeks till I went on vacation. I was gone for two weeks. When I returned, it took four days to get through emails and to a point where I could breathe again. Within half an hour, I broke out in a sweat and came down with a stomach bug for two days. It wasn’t fun. However, dawn broke through while I was on vacation when we hired our new Senior Tech — the much needed fourth in our department.

Press Release Contacts Spreadsheet
So now here I am seven weeks into the new job and I created my first two spreadsheets. One to get the list of all PR contacts. My sheet has more columns than necessary, so I hid ones which I won’t use much (fax, home number). This is all kept in a folder on Google Drive.

The PR Contact sheet has these fields: Venue, Contact (how often/when), Website URL, Type (blog, newspaper), Name (of Contact), Email, Cell Number, Home Number, Fax, Twitter, Send them…? (meaning what their interest is), and Notes (best for fundraising). I created the multiple phone numbers and fax columns since one of the people have that as part of their contact info.

Press Release Template
Then I tried my hand at a Press Release template. I used the one my colleague Mallory uses and changed it to have my name on it as the contact person then wrote a draft of a new boilerplate info about the Library. When I sent it back to her, we discussed how to handle this tricky area and decided to keep her name on them. She would know more about the specific programs. My job here is to just send the emails outwards.

Publicity Knowledge Spreadsheet
Next I created a spreadsheet titled Publicity Knowledge. This is a place to track publicity duties and who is responsible for what and why. The above discussion about whose name goes on the PR is a good example of something to document. Right now I have six items on the list. As I go back over my meeting notes, I’ll likely fill in more spaces and figure out how to put that into my schedule.

Stepping Out
I’ll take my first official step this week by sending out the PR pieces on Thursday morning. Next week I’ll take over our weekly events email. I’m excited about that since I was in charge of it before. Since I’m obsessed with email stats, I’m looking forward to all the little experiments I can try to improve what we’re doing. Mallory and my other colleagues have been so gracious in letting me set up A/B tests in the past. It’s just going to be great to control that from an end-to-end perspective. However, our individual event emails are still going to go through Mallory and the Children’s Library’s person. I’ll just be getting a schedule together to make sure we’re not bombarding patrons with emails.

Tomorrow I’m going on a field trip to meet a fellow publicity person at another library. I hope she likes Dunkin Donuts!

Tiny Characters

The most interesting thing I did on Friday was write an email telling a staff member of all the changes I made to their publicity piece (alignment, spelling). Once I was done listing out the precise things I done, I realized she likely didn’t care and it’d hurt her feelings. So I highlighted it, copied it, and pasted it after the closure. Then I brought the font size down to 8 and turned it to white characters. This gives me a place to look for if she really wants to know what I did w/o having to retype it later.

Otherwise, met with another department head (everyone needs time to plan out what programs they’re doing. The PM should push them into taking the time to do that), made a banner, worked on the Staff Art Show, and setup the website to encourage September is Library Card Sign-up Month. Not a bad day all-in-all.