I sat through a meeting with both internal and external colleagues last week and we got to talking about products like Library Aware. I did some poking around and found that the multitude of products many libraries purchase and/or subscribe to cost a heck of a lot of MONEY. Not to mention the TIME it takes to meet with vendors, make decisions, implement the product and hope it works.
I was hired by my organization for a specific purpose: the promote the library and provide marketing guidance and expertise in program development. Along with my excellent staff of 5 people, we handle:
Strategic Messaging for VIPs
And special projects as assigned of course. Just last month we put together 12 focus groups in short order. My point is that a team of key professionals as small as the team I have can get a great deal done at a fraction of the cost in money and time and will assuredly do a much better job because of their insight into the organization. Government, for the most part, like to hire from government. Libraries like to hire from libraries. Perhaps by requiring government/library experience, they are missing out on fresh perspectives, knowledge of the pace good promotion requires, and best of all, a knowledge of what we really must be tracking and evaluating if we are to learn and grow as the institutions that support our communities.
That is not to say I have not learned a great deal in government work. I’m just sayin…
You see, tonight, on the news, I watched another painful interview with a government employee (clearly an agency that does not have a Public Information Officer or Director of Strategic Communication) and cringed because he forgot to do what those of us in the trade know to ALWAYS do when faced with a crisis:
1) apologize even if it isn’t your fault (or at the very least acknowledge the frustration said crisis has caused. People really like to be validated. Plus, it makes you seem nice and human.
2) nod to comments from the reporter that you do not agree with (it’s a natural reaction but it really does look like you are in agreement even if the first word out of your mouth in response is “NO.”
3) stick to the talking points and remember to remind people of their value, that you remember you are there to serve THEM
So, I guess I am suggesting that before libraries or other government agencies invest more money in “out of the box” products from vendors who do not know them or their community, before government makes another hiring choice solely because the candidate has years of government experience (and by doing so potentially overlooks a really great marketer who just wants a chance to be a public servant) perhaps they could Poke the Box (to quote Seth Godin).
If the right team is put in place, it could just save time, money AND improve image.