Virtual reference services reach out to bring the library to the user, and the most successful promotional activities go where the user is to promote these services. Our webinar on November 15, 2007 featured two of the most innovative publicity campaigns for virtual reference services:
- Beth Cackowski (project coordinator of New Jersey's statewide service QandANJ.org) spoke about the QandANJ.org ad on MTV (you can view the ad at www.QandANJ.org/mtv); and
- Diana Sachs-Silveira (project coordniator of Florida’s Ask a Librarian service) discussed "The Director's Chair", a YouTube contest in which Florida high school students produce a commercial for the Ask A Librarian service.
Both speakers showed promotional materials from previous campaigns, including examples of bookmarks, posters, and print ads. In addition, both services are available through social networking sites: see QandANJ.org's MySpace page Florida's Ask a Librarian MySpace.
Beth Cackowski described the process for producing an ad for cable, including meeting with the cable provider and hiring a video producer. Beth also shared budget information: $2200 to produce the ad, and $4800 to air it on MTV during the Music Video Awards, in the New Jersey cable market. Using PollDaddy, Beth reported that usage went up 50% the night the ad was shown, and 20% over the course of the next month. 500 people said they saw the ad on MTV. QandANJ.org is also running ads at movie theaters, at a rate of $10 per screen per week.
Diana Sachs-Silveira discussed the Florida Ask A Librarian promotion on YouTube: a contest open to Florida high school students (9th - 12th grade) to develop the next Ask A Librarian commercial. Contestants should "make a creative and entertaining 30-second video that tells the world just how wonderful Ask a Librarian is", then load it onto YouTube, and the public will select the winner. See the Director's Chair for more information on the contest, and check back in late January when the winner is announced. Diana also discussed Ask a Librarian MySpace page, which contains (among other features) a chat widget that provides easy access to the service.
Here is the recording of the webinar, available for 30 days:
(There is 1 minute, 40 seconds of music prior to the first speaker, so just fast forward or wait it out.)