People-First Promotion: Rallying Library Workers during COVID-19 and Beyond  


Katy Kelly, Christina A. Beis, Ann Zlotnik, Maureen E. Schlangen, University of Dayton Libraries

Marketing Libraries Journal, volume 5, issue 1, pages 4-17.

Abstract: COVID-19 forced workers around the world to face the realities of closed buildings, precarious employment situations, and challenges to their well-being. This article will showcase how library workers’ resilience during COVID-19 depended on people, not buildings, and a people-first public relations strategy was employed to reveal that distinction. The authors, a team of librarians and communicators, share three pandemic-era communication stories developed to put people at the forefront of initiatives and messaging: a revamped marketing strategy for a research appointment service puts faces to the work and student support; the cancellation announcement of a beloved annual event reveals how the event takes months of planning by employees—some of whom were affected by university furloughs and layoffs; and blog posts and reports of the numbers and stories of the COVID-19 response place the focus on the workers who make it possible, despite the unpredictable circumstances. Future communication and marketing can be rethought and retooled to make services, collections, and programs worker-driven, instead of a product of the (empty) library.

Keywords: Marketing, outreach, strategic communication, management, COVID-19

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Citation to article:

Kelly, K., Beis, C. A., Zlotnik, A.,Schlangen, M.E. (2021). People-First Promotion: Rallying Library Workers during COVID-19 and Beyond.  Marketing Libraries Journal, 5(1), 4-17.