PR and Marketing

Today’s session was all about PR and marketing.

We started off looking at how to put together a press release, thinking about the four questions you need to ask yourself each time you put one together:

  • who are you writing for?
  • what have you got to say?
  • how are you going to say it?
  • where are you going to send it?

We talked about the importance of using the right sort of language and looked at three examples of press text that were each talking about the same artworks by Damien Hirst but all used very different language. One was from a specialist arts publication, one from a national broadsheet newspaper and one from Newsround and it was quite easy for us to guess which was which from the sort of language used. For example, the tank used to contain one of the artworks was described as a ‘vitrine’, a ‘glass tank of formaldehyde’ and a ‘big tank full of chemicals’.

We also talked about the importance of making the opening paragraph as interesting and succinct as possible – journalists are very busy and if you don’t grab their attention with your first paragraph then they may not read the rest of the press release.

We divided the press release into five main chunks:

  • the headline
  • the opening paragraph
  • the mid section (containing quotes and other interesing information)
  • the closing section (containing the ‘call to action’ i.e. telling people what’s happening when and where)
  • the Notes to Editors (this section comes after the main body of the press release and gives additional information on, for example, the project funders and partners

We talked about some of the audiences we might want to reach with our press releases and came up with a list of possible media outputs that Lizzie can target when she sends out releases in the new year.

Rachel then got us thinking about the exhibition interpretation and marketing materials, including interpretation banners, postcards and the website.

We agreed that there should be four banners: one explaining a bit about the background to the project, one explaining how MRI technology works, one talking about the ethical issues we’ve explored during the project, and one with a bit of info on the links between science and art. However, we also agreed that these banners should be eye-catching and not too text-heavy and cluttered and that they should use dynamic language and carefully-selected images. We thought that the branding for the exhibition should be fun but with a scientific slant.

We talked about other display materials we could use, including a blow-up version of the MRI scanner that visitors would have to walk through to get into the exhibition plus a pod with a touch-screen linked to all of the background information on the project. We discussed the fact that unfortunately these probably won’t be possible as we have to stay within a budget and these ideas could both end up costing a lot of money to build.

The postcards and the website are going to combine to carry out the same function as an exhibition brochure. i.e. the postcards will be in each of the exhibition venues and will direct people towards the website. The website will contain lots of information about the project, including:

  • information on all project partners, funders and supporters
  • an explanation of how and why the project came about
  • details of all of the topics we’ve covered (MRI technology, the history of portraiture, the development of the notion of the individual in society, ethics, creative digital technology, the links between science and art) as well as links to interesting external sites that give more information on each of these subjects
  • information on all of the project team, including the Archbishop Holgate’s students – this section could include extracts from our audio and video interviews as well as photographic portraits
  • more detailed biographies of all our portrait subjects
  • quotes from people who’ve taken part in the project as well as the messages of support we received from some of the well-known people we approached about taking part in the project

We talked again about the importance of using the right sort of language and agreed that it needed to be fairly formal (i.e. not slang), without being too high-brow and scientific so as not to exclude people from a non-scientific background.

We thought it would be a good idea to have ‘taster paragraphs’ on the website that people could read and then decide if they wanted to click through to another page for further information.

At the end of the session, we split the group into pairs and each pair was asked to write some text about a particular topic area. This will be used as the basis for the text used on the interpretation banners and the exhibition website.

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