Monthly Archives: February 2013

Tips on using Twitter: making the most of your tweets

Museums at Night intern Amy Strike has been using Twitter to market various events: here she shares her experiences and recommendations.

craft fair flyer design featuring a kitten in a hat

Flyer promoting the Fairytale Fair

A week of Tweeting

This week, I find myself working on a number of projects. Museums at Night is coming on apace, and the votes are flooding in for the Connect 10 competition. Outside of my work with Museums at Night, I am currently preparing to launch some of my own artwork at The Fairytale Fair. I’m also getting ready to exhibit my work at the 13 Women exhibition, and helping to organise the marketing of the event: it’s a busy week!

Naturally, this means tweeting. One of the things I have discovered from running my own business is that this particular form of social media marketing can be incredibly valuable in reaching target audiences and keeping your business and upcoming events in the forefront of people’s minds.

It’s also a great way of attracting an audience. For example, the 13 Women exhibition involves 26 artists, and most of the marketing for the exhibition is designed to convey the feel of the exhibition through one overall theme.

However, by using Twitter, I’ve been able to give each of the artists some individual promotion, so that in the lead-up to the event the people following our news feed have multiple opportunities to read fresh tweets about new and exciting artists. Meanwhile, the artists themselves are retweeting these messages, reaching a much wider audience.

Flyer design with white writing on a black background

13 Women exhibition flyer

When in doubt, tweet the weather

Having used Twitter for some time as a marketing tool, I enjoy the way that it can be used to give an impression of an event or project, and to keep up a steady flow of information.

The best kind of tweets, I have discovered, are those that ask something of the reader. People may not answer a question, but they do tend to remember them. Especially when they are topical:

“I’ve just finished a new piece of book art about winter ghosts. Is anyone else feeling the cold as much as me?”

This particular tweet got a few responses: there’s nothing like the weather to get people talking.

Latex or pet portraits?

It also helps to target tweets to a particular audience. In my case, an artist emerging from the fetish industry and using latex as a medium would need a different style of promotion to a pet portrait artist.

It’s also important to include the Twitter names, or @handles, of people and organisations you’re talking about, along with links to further information about whatever you’re promoting. And if you have pictures to share, these are great too!

Finally, a catchy tweet speaks a thousand words. Which is not to say that it is all right to wheel out some dreadful pun from the Dark Ages – if people are groaning I take that as a bad sign – but with only 140 characters to play with it’s useful to leave readers with something that rolls off the tongue.

Connect with us!

From the @MuseumsAtNight Twitter account, we’ll be tweeting about your events every working day from now until the festival kicks off in May, and retweeting your tweets about your event plans, so keep them coming!

Happy tweeting, and remember, the Museums at Night 2013 hashtag to use is #MatN2013.

Guest post: Marketing case study from Rebecca Clay at the Museum of Army Flying

Our latest guest post is by Rebecca Clay from the Museum of Army Flying! Rebecca tells us a bit more about the museum’s plans for a late night behind-the-scenes tour of this very special venue…

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The Museum of Army Flying is a medium sized military museum between Andover and Salisbury. It houses a range of Army aircraft, and is a charitable trust that employs a close knit team of professionals to conserve and communicate its incredible collection.

Programming for specific audiences

This time last year, after being in post for about a month, it became obvious to me that two target audiences would benefit most from an events programme at the Museum of Army Flying: Family and Community and Traditional Culture Vultures.

I had experience of running evening and afternoon events in previous employment positions, and knew that if marketed correctly they could be incredibly successful and rewarding. With this in mind I planned a two year programme of events to tie in with anniversaries and seasonal occasions.

One of the events I really wanted to run was a Culture24 Museums at Night event, specifically a behind-the-scenes tour that would give the ‘die hard’ fans of the museum everything they could dream of.

Entitled ‘The Curator’s Cupboard’, I wanted this event to open up some of the unseen treasures of our collections, including items from World War One flying aces, a sure fire hit with our enthusiast audience.

A poster for an event with images of wartime aircraft

Poster promoting the Curator’s Cupboard Museums at Night event

Overcoming challenges and adding value

One challenge that we’ll face by running a behind-the-scenes, out-of-hours event is the restrictions that have to be placed on numbers. This, coupled with the costs of keeping the museum open after hours, means that we have to charge more than we have for our previous events.

However, this limitation actually had a positive effect for our team, as we plotted together how to make it bigger and better, heaping added value and once-in-a-lifetime experiences into the event to ensure that people weren’t frightened off by the price tag.

This included planning a series of mini-talks around the museum by veteran pilots and experts about the different aircraft we have on display. One of these will be about our experimental aircraft, which are super quirky and a definite crowd pleaser.

A unique selling point – “I’ve flown that one!”

A remarkable bit of good fortune struck when one of our volunteers mentioned he thought he had flown two of the aircraft on display in the museum. I stress that he had not only flown the aircraft type but the actual aircraft on display (he checked the tail numbers against his log book) so he can give visitors first hand knowledge about our aircraft during their working life.

blue helicopter

Army Helicopter

Publicity tips

To publicise the event I have gone all out – well, as all out as you can go without a budget! The press release has gone out and has already been featured in some of our local newspapers. I will also issue a photocall invitation to local press photographers, so the publicity will hopefully have a life even after the event takes place.

I also issue posters and leaflets for every event and send them to local libraries, museums and Tourist Information Centres. My top tip for getting radio coverage is to upload all your events onto the radio station’s calendar on their website; they’ll often mention them if they get a chance.

To say we are really looking forward to the event is an understatement – I often get more excited by our objects than the public!

Here’s to Museums at Night!

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smiling ladyRebecca Clay has worked at the Museum of Army Flying as Marketing and Audience Development for nearly a year. Previously she worked in Marketing and Project Officer roles for Creswell Crags in North Nottinghamshire (currently shortlisted for World Heritage Status).

Rebecca was awarded her CIM Professional Diploma in Marketing in 2010, and also has an Honours degree in Cultural Heritage from the University of Manchester. She is a self-professed geek interested in all things web, particularly WordPress websites and social media.

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Thanks, Rebecca! If you’re reading this and you have an interesting story to tell or case study to share about planning or marketing after-hours events at your arts or heritage venue, I’d love to publish your guest posts as well. Please get in touch at rosie@culture24.org.uk.

Calling all venues: register your Museums at Night events by Tuesday 26 February!

A historic building at dusk with the lights on.

Bristol Museum & Art Gallery are preparing to open their doors after hours for the Museums at Night festival. Photo (c) Alan Russell

Culture24 has had an action-packed few days launching the Connect10 public vote, which seems to be reaching more people than ever before – in less than a week, over 10,000 votes have already been cast!

We’ve also been speaking to lots of museums and galleries about registering and publicizing your Museums at Night events, which this year range from Doctor Who sleepovers to bat walks and ghost hunts. (Looking for inspiration? Check out our Big List of Museums at Night event ideas.)

Our next series of themed press releases highlighting interesting Museums at Night events will be sent out to magazines on Wednesday 27 February. Your event can be part of this next round of publicity – but you’ll need to register it in our database by 5pm on Tuesday 26th February.

To register your Museums at Night event, log in to your Culture24 account here and add the new event listing, making sure to open the Programmes option and tick the box marked Museums at Night 2013.

screenshot demonstrating how to open and select the Museums at Night 2013 tickbox

Do describe your event making it sound as compelling as possible – what makes it unique, why is it unmissable, and what will visitors be able to experience if they come along?

If you haven’t yet confirmed your plans, but know that you’ll be doing something, you can log in and add as much detail as you can to your event listing as normal, but change the event status from Confirmed to Planning. This means that the Culture24 team will be able to see it and mention it in publicity, but it won’t be visible to the public until you log back in and switch the status to Confirmed.

screenshot showing how to change an event's status from Confirmed to Planning

And once you’ve added your event listing, please email rosie@culture24.org.uk any high-res photos of people having fun at your venue after hours, which we can share with the media. Here’s what we look for in publicity photos.

If you have any issues or questions, please call 01273 623336 or email rosie@culture24.org.uk.

Finally, if your plans aren’t finalized yet and you can’t register your event on our database before this deadline, then don’t worry – we’ll be accepting event registration up until Museums at Night weekend. However, to make the most of the PR opportunities we can offer you, the sooner you can register your event details the better!

Marketing update: making the most of Museums at Night

A group of people looking at a bookshelf in a historic library

Visitors at Calke Abbey, Derbyshire (c) National Trust Images / Paul Harris

Early publicity: a good example

Kelham Island Museum have been talking about their entry in the Connect10 competition on Twitter, where they attracted the attention of a local journalist. They quickly followed up this contact with a press release and a set of images, which has already lead to an article about their plans in the Postcode Gazette – congratulations!

This is a great example of how Museums at Night marketing works: we’ll be promoting the festival as a whole through targeted PR activity aimed at national and regional media, but there’s no substitute for doing your own local marketing as well, using all the channels available to you to get the word out!

Help us to promote you:

1) Register your Museums at Night events in our database as soon as possible, describing them to make them sound exciting!

2) Send us your publicity photos for our media image library.

3) Tell your local audiences and media what you’re planning – I’ll be reissuing an updated version of our Museums at Night PR Toolkit very soon to help you with this.

Spreading the word through Twitter

In addition to retweeting your tweets about your event plans, @MuseumsAtNight will be tweeting a different Museums at Night event highlight every working day from now until the festival kicks off in May.

The Museums at Night 2013 hashtag to use is #MatN2013.

Idea development – call us!

This week I spoke at a meeting of members of the Historic Houses Association about the benefits of taking part in Museums at Night, and particularly how the festival marketing campaign can help with audience development.

One of the key points I took away was that the kind of idea generation and marketing coaching I’ve been offering informally over the phone is very much appreciated, and probably something I should be talking about more!

So, if you’re considering running a Museums at Night event – if you’ve had a look at the Big List of inspiring event ideas, and our tips on audience development, and you’d like to talk through your plans, give me a call on 01273 623336. Let’s have a 15 minute brainstorming chat about making the most of your skills and resources, pitching the event to appeal to your target audience, and how you’re going to market it. Everyone who I’ve had these focused phonecalls with has found them useful – so please don’t feel shy about giving me a call.

And finally, a lot of our work around Museums at Night is about connecting museums, staff and volunteers through different networks; building capacity and sharing skills and learning from across the arts and heritage sector. With this in mind, it’s interesting to read the latest update from the Happy Museum Project.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Excellent Museums at Night publicity photos

Hello again, it’s Holly the intern here!

I’ve had a very busy couple of days playing with a spreadsheet which has details of all of your lovely Museums at Night events. I’ve called a lot of participating museums, asking you all to send me photos of previous after-hours events that Culture24 can use to publicize the Museums at Night festival.

We’ve received an abundance of emails with some really amazing photos, and we wanted to share some of the best with you.

Because the festival is Museums at Night, we need pictures taken at night, or at least dusk. This example from Lewes Castle is excellent as it shows the castle at dusk, with a volunteer in period dress holding a dramatic blazing torch as he looks over the castle walls – giving a good impression of what it would be like to visit their venue.

Soldier on castle ramparts holding blazing torch at dusk

Soldier on the ramparts of Lewes Castle.

So what could be better than a lovely night time picture of your museum and its surroundings? Well, a picture of visitors interacting with your collection of course!

This picture from Canterbury Museums, who are running an event called Owls, Lanterns and Moonlit Landscapes, where stories come alive inspired by their collection of paintings and objects, represents this well as the boys in the image are actively partaking in the activity and all look engaged as they pick up the pieces of pottery.

Children playing with pieces of pottery

Children enjoying the hands on area. (c) Canterbury Museums.

Now they say “Never work with children or animals,” but family events are always popular at Museums at Night, so many museums have sent us pictures of previous events aimed at children.

Some excellent examples have come from John Rylands Library in Manchester who are holding a Doctor Who sleepover again this year. Their pictures show children who are in their fancy dress costumes, laughing and having fun, while showing off the historic setting of the library building.

Children in costumes of historic building

Children in Doctor Who costumes (c) John Rylands Library

Many other venues also ignore this saying by running events that make a feature of the animal kingdom – this year there are several nature walks taking place at museums across the country such as Killhope Lead Mining MuseumKnebworth House or Prestongrange Museum.

But Museums at Night isn’t just for kids! This picture shows mature visitors enjoying themselves at Arlington Court, who are running a Victorian Dinner Party this year. This lady is genuinely laughing and having a great time: looking at this picture, I’d love to be there!

Woman in a wheelchair with several other people standing

Visitors at Arlington Court enjoying the activities.

We are also looking for images of events that may not normally happen in museums such as this glamorous night out organised by the Museum of Soho.

Woman in masquerade mask.

Woman in masquerade mask at the Museum of Soho.

So having read this, you must be wondering if it’s too late to send us your photos. And the answer is of course not! We still want your photos to add to our media image library to publicize the festival.

Please send us pictures that

  • Are in focus
  • Are high resolution (at least 300 dpi)
  • Feature interested-looking visitors having a good time at your venue, with their faces visible
  • Are taken at sunset, at night, or at least out of direct sunlight.

Please send your images to rosie@culture24.org.uk and we’ll work our magic to spread them to the wider world!

Punching above your weight online: Rosie’s article in the AMA’s Journal of Arts Marketing

I recently had an article published in the Arts Marketing Association’s Journal of Arts Marketing which I thought would be useful to share here.

Titled Punching above your weight online, it’s advice for small arts and heritage organisations with limited budgets about how best to use online communication channels.

An adorable kitten with the shadow of a lion

I like the editorial decision to illustrate the article with an adorable punching kitten who has a shadow the size of a lion. Courtesy JAM / AMA

I’d like to thank everyone who’s shared their case studies with me over the last few months – interesting examples that I cited include:

Download the Punching above your weight online article here.

Find out more about the AMA’s Journal of Arts Marketing here.

Host an author for Museums at Night 2013

man reading

Craig Taylor reading from his book at the London Transport Museum in 2012

Hosting an author as part of your Museums at Night event can be a rewarding experience and may help your venue to reach a new audience.  Culture24 and the Reading Agency have put together a great list of authors available for events during Museums at Night 2013.

Reading Agency logo

Last year several authors participated in events all over the country including Craig Taylor appeared at the London Transport Museum, Sandy Gall at Surgeon’s Hall, Edinburgh and the feedback from the events was very positive.

If you are interested in hosting an author as part of your Museums at Night event, take a look at the list of 2013 Museums at Night Authors and decide if any of them have a connection to your venue.

Update 18/02/2013: We now have several children’s authors added to the list!

Once you’ve chosen an author take a look at the guidance notes below, get back to me or Nick with all the relevant information and we will inform the author’s publisher. We’ll get back to you as soon as we can to let you know if the author is available for your event. After that you will have direct contact with the author or their publisher to make arrangements for your event.

Do be aware that although all these authors are offering their services for free (as they are plugging new books) their publishers will expect the venue to pay for travel and accommodation costs if necessary.

Before the publisher can choose a venue for their author to appear at they need to be reassured about a number of things.

Please have a look at the following questions and respond in no more than two pages of A4, saving your document with the name of the author you are pitching for and your venue’s name, e.g. Joe Bloggs Museum of Stars.

•    Do you have a budget to pay for the author’s travel and if necessary accommodation?

•    Can you show you have a good track record of events (not necessarily with large audiences)? You just need to be able to demonstrate your expertise in running a regular events programme, with or without authors.

•    Where and when will the event be held?

•    Who is your target audience? How many people are you expecting to attend?

•    Will there be other speakers? And, if so, who?

•    Will the event be chaired? Who by?

•    Who is selling the books?

•    Is the event ticketed?

•    How will you promote the event?

•    What format will the event take: panel, debate, workshop, reading?

•    Who is the main venue contact for the author?

•    Travel: how will the author get to the museum and who will meet and greet them?

If you’d like to print these questions out to discuss with your team, you can download these questions as a PDF here.

We hope there is somebody on the list that you want to work with. Please get in touch if you have any questions: talk to Nick on 01273 623279 or nick@culture24.org.uk, or Rosie on 01273 623336 or rosie@culture24.org.uk.

Good luck!