There are traditional methods of promotion in getting the word out: flyers, handouts, posters, press releases to the media and youth serving organizations, online newsletters, social media, email blasts and so on.
Then there is the more subtle - and I might suggest more successful - methods of simple word-of-mouth advocacy. The information we relay while on the desk working with patrons AND wherever we see our community members - at the grocery store, place of worship, gym, bar, 5K, trail or across the fence - becomes a personal invitation that's hard to turn down.
I've seen some great examples of this over the years:
- An early literacy librarian who inevitably found her way to each new parent she saw (whether at the library or outside in her civilian life), cooed over their baby and personally invited them to baby storytime. She always carried a business card with the days and times of our storytimes to leave with the family. Our storytimes never lacked for attendees.
- Desk assistants who, while checking people out, always mentioned upcoming programs of interest to their various children. They relayed excitement and a hint of the fun to come. Our programs were always full of eager kids.
- Storytime presenters who, when interest in 1000 Books initiative started to falter, promoted the program in their sessions. Sign-ups and participation perked up again.
- Librarians attending community meetings chatting about our programs and services with tablemates and putting our literacy efforts out front for people to discover. Amazing opportunities resulted.
Like any kind of advocacy, these personal conversations and invites work best if they are ongoing and consistent. Once word-of-mouth promotion becomes a habit for staff, it's as easy as falling off a log to promote services, programs and initiatives. And the results can be amazing!