My Worcester Pop-Up Museum – Marketing and PR

As Sarah mentioned in her post below, last month saw us hosting our ‘pop-up’ museum in Reindeer Court in the city. My role in the team covered marketing and PR. It’s probably worth saying now that when we began this project I had no formal training in either area, so my methods may not have been conventional, but I am pleased with the outcomes, and like the rest of the traineeship, the project was a great learning experience!

To begin, I put together a marketing strategy which was separated into online/external/print/shop. One of the things I did, following our group training session with a freelance PR consultant, was to write a number of press releases, and we gained coverage in Worcester News, the Worcester Observer, and on BBC Herefordshire & Worcestershire radio – a huge thank you to the two Kens who were involved in the project and took time out of their day to come and speak to journalists. I was particularly pleased as Helen, who delivered our training session, said we should aim for two pieces of coverage, so that was surpassed (just!) As nothing like this project had been done before, it was quite difficult to make predictions for both the amount of coverage and number of visitors we could expect.

My Worcester Museum coverage, via Worcester News

My Worcester Museum coverage, via Worcester News

I think if I were to take on a similar role again, I would probably do some more research into marketing and PR methods to begin with, I would give myself a longer lead-in time, and I would hopefully have more time to work on creating and sourcing content for our online platforms. That being said, I know we were all really pleased with the visitor numbers we had (c.250 over three and a half days), and many of those visitors had come to us intentionally, rather than just coming in after walking by, which I think demonstrates that the marketing was effective. It almost goes without saying, though, that the project was a group effort and so our collective work was what made it success, so well done to my fellow trainees, we did it!

Rachel Murphy

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A Week with Bristol Museums Digital Team

Rachel spent last week at Bristol Museums with their digital team – this post was originally published on their labs blog

Hello! My name’s Rachel and I’m a Heritage Lottery Fund Skills for the Future graduate trainee. I am usually based in Worcester as part of the Worcestershire’s Treasures project, with my traineeship focused on audience development and events. As part of the traineeship I’m able to do a week’s secondary placement at another museum or heritage venue, and this week I joined the Bristol Museums digital team to get an insight into what they do, and generally learn some new stuff. I got in touch with Zak and Fay as I knew I wanted to spend my week elsewhere learning more about museums and digital. I had seen both of them speak at conferences – Zak at the Museums Association’s annual conference in Cardiff, and Fay at Culture 24’s Digital Change: Seizing The Opportunity Online in Birmingham – and thought Bristol seemed like the place to be for museums and digital!

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I’ve been involved with some really interesting and useful things since the start of the week. On Monday I did some content management on the development site in preparation for user testing later on in the week. On Tuesday I sat in on a meeting with fffunction, and then joined the museum’s new digital marketing intern, Olivia, in creating some content for social media. As the Shaun the Sheep trail started this week, we had fun coming up with some awful sheep-related puns – keep an eye out for these on @bristolmuseum!

On Wednesday I visited The Georgian House Museum and The Red Lodge Museum, conducted some visitor surveys down at M Shed, and then yesterday I sat in on some user testing sessions with teachers, for the new learning pages of the website. They were given a number of scenarios to work through and it was really fascinating to see how users interact with the site and the different ways people navigate through it.

Some of the other useful things I’ve been introduced to this week are the organisation’s Audience Development Strategic Plan and their social media guidelines, and how data collected from users is collated and reported.  I also sat in on a meeting with some of the team involved with the upcoming exhibition death: the human experience to discuss the digital engagement to go alongside the physical exhibition and programme. This is just one example of the collaborative nature of the digital offer, and it came across to me that it is viewed as an integrative part of the exhibition, as opposed to just an add-on, which is really positive.

It’s also been great seeing how a different museum works. The museum I work at is quite different, in terms of size, staffing, collection and audience, and so coming to a large local authority museums service with seven physical sites has been a valuable experience in itself.

Overall I have had a brilliant week, I think it’s been a good overview of the team’s work, with lots of variety and things to get involved with. I have felt really welcome and included, and everyone at the museum has been so friendly. Thanks so much to the team for hosting me this week, and especially to Fay for letting me follow her round for most of it. My traineeship comes to an end shortly, so hopefully you’ll see me on a digital team soon!

Let’s Get Digital

On Tuesday I attended an Arts Council conference in Birmingham called ‘Digital Change: Seizing the Opportunity Online’, which was supported by Google and put together by Culture24. There were sessions on learning from YouTubers, how to make the most of Google search – more interesting than it sounds, using data analytics and feeding cultural content into other channels, such as Pinterest and Tumblr.

As I have mentioned previously I am really interested in what museums and heritage sites are doing with digital, and perhaps the greatest thing that the event made me realise was how to me there appears to be a split between those in museums who think the end result of digital content should be to increase numbers of physical visitors, and those who think people engaging with digital content is a result in itself. I am in the latter camp. I believe that if through your digital content, you are able to engage people or audiences who are unable or unwilling to physically visit your venue, that is valuable. Not everyone feels comfortable in cultural venues, or is able to access them – for various reasons – but digital content encourages inclusion and accessibility. I’m aware that seeing an image of an object or a piece of artwork cannot really replace standing in front of it, but I don’t think digital should, or is trying, to be a replacement. It can offer something else entirely.

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Even if you are pro-digital though, it can be difficult to create content, both in terms of ideas and with limited resources available. Balancing your audience’s needs and wanting to showcase collections in new ways is also tricky. I think I could write a thousand words on the topic, but for now, I will take my thoughts with me whilst I try and create some of my own digital content to go with my events – wish me luck!

For more information, see the hot off the press ‘Digital Culture 2014’ report, on how arts and cultural organisations in England use technology, and Culture24’s list of resources.

Rachel Murphy

Looking Back

Hello! I don’t know how I can possibly follow Etta’s wonderful post, below, but as we have now passed the three month mark of our traineeships, I thought it might be a good idea to reflect on my experience of the traineeship so far, and what I have learnt.

Copyright: The Museum of Royal Worcester

Copyright: The Museum of Royal Worcester

The first thing that strikes me, as is always the case, is just how fast the last few months have passed by. The weather in Worcester this week has finally started its descent into Winter, and I can’t help but think of how sunny and hot it was when I moved here at the end of July. I have settled in to the museum, and am currently finalising my plans for the next year, in conjunction with my colleagues. I am now faced with the somewhat daunting task of making the things I have planned actually happen; I think this is the first job I have had where I have full ownership of my own projects, which is both exciting and somewhat terrifying. For the majority of my events I am trying to create partnerships and work with other local organisations and institutions where beneficial to both of us, as well as for our audiences and participants – I am not in the inward-looking old school of museum thought and I think the sector can be hugely enriched by collaboration and through listening to and being aware of different viewpoints.

I am also looking forward to putting into practice some of the excellent training we have had over the past few months. The majority of the areas we have had training in have been completely new to me, so I am eager to try some things out and develop new skills – so far, I am hoping to submit some successful funding bids, develop educational resources suited to the new primary school curriculum, advise some participants on their Arts Awards, and begin work on the digital output to accompany my events. Hopefully by the next time I write, I will have some progress to report!

Rachel Murphy

From Portraits to Content Production

It has been an exciting and varied few weeks at the Museum of Royal Worcester. One special event was the unveiling of a portrait of Henry Sandon, a great friend of the museum and renowned expert of Worcester Porcelain, whom you may recognise from the Antiques Roadshow. The portrait was painted by local artist Sara Hayward and as you can see, it is full of colour and character, far from what may spring to mind when one thinks of portraiture. The occasion was featured on BBC Midlands Today, and can be viewed here. You may be able to spot me in the background!

Museum of Royal Worcester Henry Sandon PortraitCynthia Crawford

Henry Sandon and Cynthia Crawford MBE, image by John Anyon via Worcester News.

I have also attended several training events, which have generally focused on audiences, as well as making connections with visitors beyond the physical space of the museum or through the collections alone. This is an area I am extremely interested in, as it seems to produce some of the most exciting and creative ideas in museums and galleries.

The first training day was actually led by us, the trainees. With a broad focus on blogging and social media, we talked about writing content as well as more practical aspects. Emalee and I led on a session about how to use WordPress, from changing themes and layouts, to optimising images and posts for search engines. We are also responsible for the redesign of this blog, which we hope you like. Its appearance may be the most obvious change, but our primary aim was to organise the existing content, as well making it easier to navigate. Although none of us claim to be blogging or social media experts, I think we all learnt a lot through sharing our thoughts and ideas, and we are keen to publish content frequently throughout the duration of our traineeships, for our records and for anyone else who may be interested.

Oxford Aspire Training Shelley Mannion British Museum

Shelley Mannion, image from Oxford Aspire.

The most recent training day I took part in was run by Oxford Aspire, and was called ‘Understanding Audiences’. An overview of all four presentations can be found here on their website; I was particularly interested in the talks focusing on audiences and their engagement with digital output. Shelley Mannion, Senior Content Producer at the British Museum, stated that a museum’s digital output is becoming as much a part of a museum experience as the museum itself, an idea I wholeheartedly agree with, as digital natives – I consider myself and my peers to be first-generation – are now entering the workforce, and of course many children born in the West today grow up with technologies like tablets. Although most museums do not have the resources available to the BM, I am keen to incorporate a digital element into some of my projects here at the museum, where possible and appropriate. I think it would be most valuable for us as a way of showcasing archival material and our collection of oral histories, which museum visitors may not be able to see or hear in the galleries. Keep an eye (or RSS feed) out!

Rachel Murphy

Cream Boats & Petticoats

Hello! Rachel here, trainee at the Museum of Royal Worcester.

My first three weeks at the museum have absolutely whizzed by, and I’ve been involved in a variety of activities alongside settling in and getting to know my new colleagues. I’ve spent some time in the museum’s shop talking to visitors, shadowed preparations for events, and even helped proof the annual Friends’ magazine, The Melting Pot.

imgID9494430An event I particularly enjoyed being part of was the St. Peter’s School reunion. The school closed in the late 1950s and the building is now the museum, so naturally we were the ideal venue! It was lovely to witness old friends be reunited after so long, and interesting to hear their memories of being at school and how the building has changed. Many of the attendees also had close links to the factory, with one lady pointing to a photograph on display in the exhibition hall, and saying ‘That’s my Aunt!’

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Another exciting event I was able to witness last week was the photographing of some of the collection. It took the photographer a full day to shoot the contents of one and a half cases – this may sound like a long time, but the cases hold an impressive amount, as shown in the picture. It is quite strange to see objects outside of their cases, and I was lucky enough to be able to handle several pieces, including the Wigornia cream boat, one of the earliest pieces of Worcester Porcelain in existence. I’m not a collections buff but thankfully I do know one of the cardinal rules – don’t hold things by the handle!

I have also started to think about an events programme for the duration of my traineeship, as my role at the museum is to expand the events programme for existing audiences, but also to try and reach out to new ones. I have quite a few ideas, some of which I will hopefully start bringing to fruition in the coming weeks – I will update you on my progress in my next blog post!