Stanhope Forbes’ England Part 2

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.

Stanhope Forbes' England advert

Stanhope Forbes’ England advert

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.”[1] 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.

[1] Smithsonian Institution, Audience Building: Marketing in Museums, October 2001 <http://tinyurl.com/l3aytca>  p. 1

 

Emalee Beddoes

 

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#DCDC14

Yesterday, Tom and Sarah and I travelled to Birmingham for the Discovering Collections, Discovering Communities conference. This was the first conference that I have attended so I was unsure as to what to expect. However, I came out of it with some brilliant new ideas on how to promote my collections and more importantly how to forge partnerships and collaborate with other institutions and sites of cultural heritage. The Library of Birmingham was a fantastic setting for such an event as it promotes collaboration in itself, having both archives and a library accessible for all. Being open for only 14 months and already attracting just under 3 million visitors signifies what a great role the library has in the local community.

Birmingham Library

Inside Birmingham Library

The main themes that I picked up on throughout the day were collaboration, diversity and inclusion. This was to show how archives, museums and academia can work together to formulate stories and common experiences to heighten the impact and interest in their collections. This selection of varied institutions from across the heritage and cultural sectors created a discussion on future improvement and possibilities for further collaboration. It was inspiring to see this already in action through some of the speakers such as Kirsty Pattrick, from the Mass Observation Archive, who has been working alongside Lewes Prison Library to provide a voice for inmates who would otherwise be silenced in the pages of history. This project acts as a springboard for further engagement with offenders and provided them with a cathartic release within their rigid daily schedules. Another example of inclusive projects was provided by Katie Giles, from Kingston University Special Collections, who showcased the various ways in which she worked with both school children and adults with special educational needs. Her emphasis was on creative outputs and how to tailor to and inspire different audiences. One bit of advice I took from her presentation was to ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’.

DCDC14

The programme cover for the conference

I was lucky enough to meet the author of the Special Collections Handbook, Alison Cullingford, whose book has been of great use to me during this placement. As I am responsible for the social media output here at the Research collections, her talk on the use of blogs and twitter was really helpful. She explained how to take an object and create a story around it as this is a more engaging approach that people will be more likely to take an interest in. Audiences like a good story and if you find an object within your collection that people would not expect you to hold then show it off, do not be afraid to stick simply to what people are expecting to see. I am hoping to visit Bradford University Special Collections soon to learn as much as I can from Alison and bring it back to Worcester.

The main thing I took from this conference was the confidence and inspiration to see how the seven placements across Worcester can take this notion of collaboration to increase engagement in our collections. I’m hoping to share what I have learnt with the others who did not attend to see what steps we can take towards working together.

Danielle Joyce, Tom Hopkins, Sarah Ganderton

Us outside the Library

For more information on the events search for #DCDC14 on twitter or follow @UWRColl

 

Danielle Joyce

If Monks had WordPress: Medieval Libraries and Social Media

As part of my traineeship I’m responsible for maintaining Worcester Cathedral Library’s social media presence, employing a Facebook page, a WordPress blog and a Twitter account. Our library is located up 46 steps of a very narrow spiral staircase, which can make access very difficult for many people. Yet our collection encompasses a vast range of material that is of interest to an international audience. Social Media is therefore a really good vehicle by which we can increase access – at least electronically – into a space that is physically remote from most people.

As I mentioned in my last post here, I’m starting to get some of our volunteers to help write material for the library’s blog. Not only does this mean that we get a broader range of topics covered, it also takes some of the work load off me so that I can focus on my exhibition work, palaeography lessons and tours. Yet that doesn’t mean I can always put volunteer-written articles up on our blog without doing any work on them. I have to proof read them (just as my supervisor does with my own posts), make sure they’re appropriate (they all have been so far), and sometimes do a little tinkering to make them read a bit better.

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Quirky and fascinating, but maybe not beautiful. South American wildlife, allegedly. How could I not want to make material like this more readily accessible? Image copyright the Dean and Chapter of Worcester Cathedral (UK)

As part of a joint training session, all the Growing Worcestershire’s Treasure Skills for the Future trainees undertook a workshop on ‘Exciting Writing’, delivered by Kate Measures. I learnt an awful lot from this session about how to produce writing that is engaging, accessible, and of course exciting. Ever since, I have been trying to put the principles I learnt into practice – both in my own work and in that of my volunteers.

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Ditto, with these fine sea monsters I came across recently. Image copyright the Dean and Chapter of Worcester Cathedral (UK)

Running the Facebook page requires rather less facility with written language, but it is an excellent platform on which to quickly post pictures. Each day, I’m bound to come across something quirky, fascinating or beautiful (and sometimes all three) in the library – so it’s a simple case of photographing it and whacking it on to our page for our followers to enjoy!

Check out our Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/WorcesterCathedralLibrary

And our blog at: http://worcestercathedrallibrary.wordpress.com/

Tom Hopkins

Creating My First Mini Display

Over the past month at the Library I, Dee, have been putting together a small display on Worcester Cathedral Organists through the ages. With the help of the library volunteers, I am happy to say my mini exhibition is now complete, and can be found in the south nave aisle of Worcester Cathedral.

My display aims to uncover the lives and work of six Cathedral organists, who lived through some of the most tumultuous periods in English history. The display is made up of three glass cases. The first case focuses on organists of the monastic foundation, the second contains a Civil War organist and an organist of the Hanoverian era, and the final case includes a Victorian and an Edwardian organist. The display covers from 1468-1945 and, as you might expect when working with such a large time span, this posed a few challenges!

Challenges Faced

The size of the display cases placed restrictions on the amount of material I could use in the display. As time went on, I found it more feasible to concentrate on six rather than eight Cathedral organists. Daniel Boys (organist until the dissolution of Worcester’s Benedictine monastery in 1540) and Nathaniel Giles (1558-c.163) both sadly got the chop from the main body of the display. The extra space, however, allowed me to provide a fuller biography of the six organists who remained: Richard Green, John Hampton, Thomas Tomkins, Thomas Pitt, William Done and Sir Ivor Atkins.

A second challenge was balancing the amount of documentary sources with photographic / visual material and artefacts. For the organists of the monastic foundation, Richard Green and John Hampton, account rolls / books and deeds of appointment from the monastic registers made up the body of source material. To place a pile of pictures of account rolls and monastic registers in a case would have made for a rather colourless display with a lot of LONGGGG Latin-English transcriptions (bleurgh!!).

I think that I managed to make the case containing organists of the monastic foundation as visually enticing as the other two cases (in which there were portraits and artefacts . The documents used are often superimposed with text and they also include arrows which draw the reader’s eye to a particular section. With documents in Latin, its important (in the absence of a full transcription) to provide a lengthy enough caption so that readers not proficient in the language can ascertain the essence of the document.

Skills

Whilst this display had its challenges and limitations, it also provided a good basis for me to acquire some new skills. Photography was never my forte but now  I feel substantially more confident in photographing a range of material. I photographed documents and books, portraits, organ pipes, conductor’s batons and I even photographed photographs (if that makes any sense).
What’s next?

Now that I am happy with everything in the cases, I’m hoping to make a little comment card over the next day or two so that I can get some feedback on the display from members of the public. I have to start thinking about my larger summer exhibition (yikes), and to have a rough idea of what worked and what needs improvement from my current display will be a great starting point when I start to conceptualize the presentation of my larger exhibiton, which will use a much larger amount of source material.