Tag Archives: library branding

Focus on advocacy and branding: how do I write like an expert?

Antique TypewriterWe all do it, we are expected to do it: that little article in the school newsletter, that blog post in the library website, that short report for our headteacher, that training feedback form for our line manager, etc. etc. etc.

We all need to write for our job but are we doing it the right way?

Starting to post for this blog was really daunting at the beginning so I decided to ask a friend of mine for her top tips on how to make my posts interesting, useful and worth-reading.

These are the invaluable tips from Anne Wollenberg, award-winning freelance journalist and friend extraordinaire!

The audience comes first: I suggest having some questions you want each article to answer – whichever of these are appropriate to the situation… How did your event/initiative/course benefit the school? Why was it worth spending the money? What did you gain or learn from the activity? Why are you telling the reader about it? Who is your reader and what do they want to know? What matters to them? For example… do they want to know that you had a nice day out – or do they want to know why you spent their money, how they will benefit and how they will be affected? Don’t think about what you want to write but about what matters to the reader.

Always cover the basics: Make sure you cover who, what, where, when, why – and so what?

Keep your message consistent and clear: People should remember any one piece – whatever they are writing – may be the first or only article any individual reads about the organisation/library. What do you need to convey about how you operate, your priorities, your ethos, etc? Always bear in mind it may be someone’s first impression of you. Remind them of your brand messages. What are the aims of your library/service? How do you want to be perceived? What are you saying about yourselves? These are things to keep in mind when writing.

Keep your readership interested: Remember that your reader doesn’t really care about whether you had a nice day. They want to know why they should be interested in the day/event you had. It’s fine to say the day was fun or enjoyable (as it might encourage others to attend the next event) but say WHY. What did you do or learn that was enjoyable AND worthwhile?

Split it up a bit: 500-700 words is quite long and a daunting amount to write. And whatever the word length, always split your article up in different sections. It can include a certain number of words of body text (main article text) and then pick one or two or three of the following:

– Top three things you learned during the event/training course/initiative

– Action points: explain some of the ways in which you will implement what you learned, changes you will make, etc

– About the trainer/guest speaker. Who are they? What’s their job? What was it like to meet them?

– An interesting fact or point of discussion that was covered on the day

What NOT to include: what you had for lunch. Just, no!

Twitter 101 with James Dawson and Dawn Finch

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Twitter 101 with James Dawson and Dawn Finch

At the London and South East SLG LibMeet we were lucky enough to have top YA author James Dawson with us and he helped us out in a discussion about the merits of social networking and using Twitter. If you haven’t discovered him yet, James is particularly entertaining on Twitter and is more than aware of the importance of social networking. I’m deeply envious of his huge number of devoted followers, but I hope I’m worth a follow too!

You can follow James @_jamesdawson and me @dawnafinch and decide for yourselves.

Firstly, are you on Twitter? If not, why not?!

These days it is vital that School Librarians are more proactive with their approach to their work, and this should include embracing and using social networking. Many of us are now used to using Facebook amongst our friendship groups, and this format is not ideal for use for work or school, but what about Twitter?.

Twitter at its most basic is a simple forum for people to share short comments (140 characters long), links and photos and to retweet (share) other member’s messages. It is a fantastic way to link with your followers (pupils) and to express a public profile for your library.

For starters – get an account! Obviously you are going to need to check that this is okay with your headteacher and SLT. If you can, choose an account name for your library account that shows that you are a school library, this will help. Authors love library accounts and are far more likely to reply if they can instantly see that you are school library. If you have a private Twitter account, keep it that way and don’t link the school account to yours. Everything that you post on your school account should represent the ethos of the whole school and should promote books and reading.

Next – follow people. Search for authors and other librarians that you know and see what they post. If they are interesting and posting regularly (and replying to questions) then follow them. A lot of people will follow you back, but don’t take it personally if they don’t. Search for organisations connected to books and reading, and follow them. Because you want to keep this interesting for young people, avoid the dryer more sales-orientated organisations and stick to things that your pupils will want to read and share.

Make it known. Pupils will not follow you if they don’t know you are there. Put the Twitter name on all of your emails and stationery. Stick a poster up in the library saying that the library is on Twitter. Make sure that the staff know about the account and have the account name in a prominent place so that others can follow too.

What to say! Twitter is full of things that are of interest to young people. Seriously, have a search and see what other people have posted and share it with a retweet. Start off by sharing things like new books in the library (with a photo) and tell people what the library offers. Are there school events you can share? Author events? Book launches? Follow your local bookshops and share their events. Search for events by the most popular writers in the library, and retweet their posts. Don’t wait for something interesting to come up, search for things and keep your Twitter feed interesting and up to date. Start up a Library Twitter Group at school and take pupil advice on what should be on there.

What not to say! Basically, if you wouldn’t put it on a t-shirt and wear it around school, then it shouldn’t be on your Twitter feed! It sounds simple but you have to be in work-mode at all times online. Make absolutely sure that you do not post anything that the parents and governors might find inappropriate.

What next? Direct contact with authors is one of the best reasons to be on Twitter. Authors use Twitter all the time and you can find most of the top names in children’s and YA fiction on there. Search your favourites and see if they reply to other people, and then Tweet them too! Just write a message with their Twitter name in it, and see if they reply. You’ll be amazed how many will reply to an account that is clearly a library.

#hashtags When you have worked out how to do your tweets and are finding it easier to navigate the pages, you should start using hashtags. These are the little bits that you add into your messages so that people can find other messages with the same themes. Basically you write your message, and then you add a hashtag into the body of the message. For example, if you are writing a tweet about how great the library is, you might use #lovelibraries and it will become a link that other people can use to find people who also love libraries!

Some of the most useful hashtags for librarians are #lovelibraries #amreading #shoutabout but you might also like #amwriting as lots of writers use this one. Keep a note of the hashtags that other people use so that you can use them too.

Advanced stuff! When your account is busy and active you might find that you need to start thinking about how to organise your account a bit more. This is when you might want to try things like Hoot Suite. You can organise things into lists so that you can just see the tweets that matter to you and your library.

 In summary, we need to be out there, be visible and be active in all aspects of reading and literacy and social networking is just another part of it. Agree with it or not, it’s not going anywhere and so we may as well use it to our advantage!