May 26, 2015

PR Collaborations with Students: #ParkLibSavesTime

I worked with 2015 PR major, Michelle Park, to promote the Park Library to students in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Our goal was to persuade students that talking to me could save them time and help them turn into more efficient searchers.

Michelle's idea was to serve food and inspire students; she named the event "S'mores with Stephanie" and baked a s'mores cake (chocolate cake with marshmallows - mmm!). She designed a terrific graphic, and we developed the #ParkLibSavesTime hashtag.

We targeted two classes whose students had to use the library in their spring classes. We also invited students from the entry-level news writing course to come and cover the story as an assignment for class.

The session featured a student-led panel of students who had worked with me for classes and talked, in their own words, about how using library resources improved their classwork. We also had a three-question treasure hunt, with prizes for those who answered the questions quickly (there were also "Easter egg" prizes for students who chatted with us, tweeted the session, or clicked on a tab on the S'mores website.

The evaluations were positive from students in all groups: we received post-event feedback from 12 attendees (almost 50%), most of whom had never met with a librarian before but said they were more likely to do so in the future.

Our collaboration caught the attention of JOMC professor Nori Comello, who encouraged Michelle to submit the campaign to the N.C. Public Relations Society of America. And in fact, Michelle won their InSpire Award, with great feedback from the judges.

These notes included (emphasis mine):

  • "love that your hashtag included an actionable message ... not just "ParkLib" but "Saves Time." Brilliant. Again, most professionals don't think to use this ..."
  • "Really thoughtful ideas here - doing the reverse interview was brilliant. I remember having to go through Library orientation, and even though I do a lot of research for my current job and love libraries, the term "library orientation"just scares everyone. "
  • "Really good results, especially for a first time event! I'm only surprised that the Library plans to limit it to an annual event. I would think that doing this at least every semester (if not 3 or 4 nights at the start of each term) would benefit not only freshman but all students as they navigate new class demands. "

Michelle has graduated, and I'm left pondering the advice to do this several times each semester.

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