In this final, quiet work week of 2012 I’ve been focusing on making new promotional and instructional videos. Chad Boeninger from Ohio University provides inspiring examples at his Business Blog. One strategy Chad uses in many of his screencasts is bookending the recording with a short video introduction and conclusion. This gives the screencasts a more human feel — you can see who is doing the speaking for the screencast– and emphasizes Chad’s approachability as a public service librarian. So I decided to use that framing device too.
However, my library’s Instructional Tech Team has a house policy to begin any screencast with a voiceover reminder from Irma Minerva, our reference service avatar/brand, that you can always “Ask Us” for additional help.
Now, I agree that policy makes sense. In fact, it was some years ago when I became coordinator of our virtual reference service that I asked a temporary reference librarian to investigate new branding for our “Ask a Librarian” chat service, which resulted in Irma Minerva, with iMinerva as a username variant. (Yes, this was before the iPod came out.)
(Optional historical background: A former colleague, Lisa, began our chat service in January 2001, a few months before I got married, moved to Winston-Salem, and began working at UNCG. When my buddy Lisa got married and moved to the Midwest a few years later, I became the chat coordinator. By then the literature was pretty clear that “librarian” was not a particularly effective word to have in the name of a virtual reference service. So I asked Stephanie, the new temporary reference librarian who was looking for projects, to investigate new branding. Through a well-planned naming contest we ended up with Irma Minerva. (Minerva is our campus symbol — UNCG began as the UNC Women’s College.))
So is it better to promote the service desk brand or the subject specialist-as-brand? I certainly don’t want a business student who needs quick help but can’t find me online or in person to give up without trying the reference desk. (Although I do hear from a couple of students each year that whoever was at the reference desk or monitoring chat just punting his or her question back to one of my library guides, which the students had usually already consulted. Yes, business research can be intimidating.)
So as a compromise I decided to mention Irma Minerva/Ask Us in my short video clips. We really have to promote both brands, even if that weakens the marketing message.