In my previous work in publishing, creating content for marketing and press was a day to day task for me, but there I had the benefit of an existing international specialist-interest audience. When beginning work on press for Stanhope Forbes’ England, I was conscious that exhibition press is a very different species: it must appeal to both those who spend every weekend gallery-hopping and those who rarely visit, as well was both Forbes newbies and enthusiasts.
My previous post, Stanhope Forbes’ England Part 1, gave some of the draft press material I had written to send to our talented PR team: Museums Worcestershire’s Marketing & Events Manager, Helen Large, and freelance PR consultant Helen Annetts. I met with the two Helens last week to discuss the draft and our plans for marketing. I was extremely pleased to find that they were happy with what I’d provided and used the text in various different ways throughout the press materials. Helen Annets also shared all sorts of useful advice about writing for the press, some of the key points that stood out for me were:
- Begin by writing down bullet points of the key things that you wish to highlight – much like planning keywords before writing a blog post.
- Including quotes from someone like the curator, a well-known subject specialist or even a member of the community involved in the project can add interest to a media pack.
- Make key pieces of information easily accessible –the press are extremely busy people!
Working with ‘team Helen’ has highlighted the importance of dedicated marketing professionals in the heritage industry. While curators or front of house staff might be able to tweet, blog and make calls to the local press; the media savvy, contacts, and experience of PR and marketing teams are an essential step in insuring the success of exhibitions.
A Smithsonian Institution report on audience building highlights that “Museum marketing is unique because museums have a mission to educate the public as well as build audience and revenue.” As heritage professionals we have the privilege of working with objects and stories that are entirely fascinating and do much of the work for us. The key duty of museum marketing, therefore, is not simply to stimulate revenue, but as a service that makes these objects and their stores accessible to as many people as possible.