Public Relations as the degree of
understanding and goodwill achieved.
According to the Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary found on my
bookshelf, public relations is defined as "the degree of understanding and
goodwill achieved". This topic was discussed at the most recent Advanced
Management for Private Law Librarians (AMPLL) Conference and the following list
includes ideas and suggestions compiled by the forty private law librarians in
- Determine who "holds the power" over the library and its
functions and determine who that person trusts. Make contact with this
person or persons and ask advice: What are the best methods of
communication? How should information be communicated? What are his or her
- Conduct in-house focus groups to determine the current
"understanding and goodwill" achieved by the library to date and
how it can be improved in the future. This is a great method to find which
information needs are being met, what needs improvement or what may be
discontinued. Use this information to make changes and then follow-up with
additional focus groups or a survey. Management may be more likely to listen
to information gathered from the firm's researchers.
- Use the "by chance meetings" as opportunities to promote library
projects and successes. We often refer to such "by chance
meetings" as elevator talk - you have 15, or 25 or 40 floors in an
elevator with the Managing Partner, Executive Director, or Library Partner.
Use this brief period of time to promote the library and its services.
- Develop electronic library newsletters or announcements.
- Create library links on the firm's intranet.
- Develop and present training classes.
- Conduct a cross functional technology fair including various firm
departments as well as vendors.
- Create special e-mail notification of successes.
- Participate on firm cross-functional teams.
- Provide library information in firm and/or department meetings. It is
frequently difficult to get on the agenda for these types of meetings.
Again, use your contacts within the firm to develop these opportunities and
then take advantage of them through excellent preparation and delivery of a
targeted message so that you are invited to attend additional meetings.
- Solicit testimonials - "they listen best to themselves".
- All staff interactions with the firm's researchers and management should
also be considered to be public relations opportunities.
As many of these suggestions indicate, achieving understanding and goodwill
is very dependent on the relationships built between the library staff and all
members of the firm.