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Seminar on communication for AOAMs

Date: 
Thursday, 8 October, 2015
Organised by: 
Responsible: 
Hein Klompmaker & Harrie Wolters
Quantity of Products: 
powerpoint - 1

The seminar started with a short summary from where we started at the beginning till the point we have reached in 2015. It was a five years experience. Some of us knew each other, others not. So we had to meet each other. That happened in Calafell in 2011, the start of the project.
One of the important issues was the importance of communication and PR for institutions like ours and that progresses should be made.
Main decisions were:

  1. A good website which is a platform at the same time
  2. Development of our usage of social media in a good way
  3. The need for a community manager/specialist to help us with new ways of communication – especially social media
  4. The need for good communication-products like a Facebook page, paper products, brochures and so on
  5. Community manager

From the beginning we concluded that we need a communication coordinator who was also our community manager. This community manager:

  1. Made us aware of the power of social media
  2. Was a link between the partners and the outside world
  3. Helped the partners with using social media
  4. Remembered us many times about using social media
  5. Remembered us many times about the importance of the common website
  6. Was the link with other archaeological open-air museums
  7. Was the “linking pin” among us 

Our most important tool: the website (openarch.eu). It started in 2011 and since then was continuously developed
The first meeting after Calafell was at the Hunebedcentrum in Borger, the Netherlands, in October 2011. The main topic was about communication and PR. Lessons learned:

  1. What new kinds of multi media are there and can be uses by our-kind of museum open air museums)
  2. What can we learn from the classic museums
  3. How to use social media in different ways – combinations with activities and experimental archaeology

Eight conferences followed after the Calafell start and the Borger meeting– always with some issues about PR and marketing Workshop on PR and Communication On 25 October 2013 a workshop was organized by EXARC on the Albersdorf conference. The topic was about the main aspects of PR & Communication as applicable to the OpenArch Partners.  Content of the workshop: Using several examples, different issues and opportunities were highlighted and people could explain about their own experiences. This again was presented at the backdrop of international trends in social media, printed matter and other important tools for PR & Communication. 
One of the ingredients of the day was a workshop on branding: imagine what Museum X wants to tell its visitors, explain that in one sentence. The outcomes were compared with each other and with the original mission statement of Museum X: very interesting! Several partners gave their input which was later used in the "Communication Strategy" book.
Communication Strategy– Content Based on our experience and researches, we published a PR manual for AOAM.  In may 2015 the PR Book "Communication Strategy" became available online. PR tools made during the project period In the next slides an overview is given of the main other PR/marketing tools created and used during the project: Posters, Leaflets, Folders, Word template Advertisement, Website, banner, Movies, Outside Board about OpenArch and its partners, Articles, Seminars on conferences and Communication experiences.
Communication is not a sure science so sometimes you have to experiment to see if new ways of communication are interesting and successful or not.

The questionnaire 2013-2015
In 2013, the organisations in charge of the communication in OpenArch wrote a question to be filled by every partners about marketing and PR was organized as part of the research process who led to the creation of the PR manual. In 2015, a follow-up questionnaire was sent to see if there any changes occurred in the participating organizations.

Conclusions after 5 years
- Communication is one of the most important things when starting any kind of project. In the beginning of the project there is the need to make an infrastructure for it. If not it will be difficult when the project goes on. It is important to use a combination of old media and new media It is also important to combine the website with the different social media used.
- The communication manager should be fully included in the development of the activities in order to understand better in which direction the project goes and what is planed which will allow him to communicate better.
- PR and communication is getting more and more important in the modern world and therefore also for the archaeological open air museums. While many organisations wish to limit their communication to the same kind of products they have always used, it is now a necessity to develop new products and to use new platforms.
- The AOAM have to develop their knowledge of communication and PR using the experience from their staff and volunteers but also the advices from other organisations or the material published (including our PR manual)
- In partnership projects, it is good to organise a webinar on PR during the first year in order to ensure that everyone has more or less the same level of skills and is concerned by the topic.

Ideas for the near future
- Know how to use internet and social media. There are new opportunities all the time and mostly free of charge. For example make, like us, your own e-magazine (a paper magazine is expensive, nowadays there are possibilities to make cheap alternatives by internet, you can place articles at all times and sent it to a lot of people within a minute).
- You need to combine old and new media. Both kind are important to develop because the public and the target are not homogenous: some people prefer paper, some prefer digital content and some like it both.
- It is important to take in consideration the dynamical aspect of the social media. Do not use them as a simple one way street but interact with people online. For instance ask people questions through social media and make them part of your world.
- Try to make unique activities viral. For example the stone age people who walked in the centre of Albersdorf got caught by a photograph and the pictures went viral and the museums used that opportunity for communication.
- Experiment with new kinds of communications activities (for example Skyping your ancestors or Business to Business activity) or new kind of social media (Tumblr, Periscope, etc.)
- Choose which kind of social media fits you. You cannot do them all. Keep in mind that every kind of social media has its own target group and its own kind of creation needs.
- Set up a small circle of 'culture' colleagues working with PR in your region and keep in regular touch, one evening per month can get you new ideas and direct feedback of what works and what does not and you will also have a better picture of the current and future trends.