CAMPAIGNS: DMA honors 100th with a continuous open-door policy

PR Team: The Powell Group (Dallas) and the Dallas Museum of Art (Dallas) Campaign: Dallas Museum of Art stays open for 100 hours Time Frame: Summer 2002 - January 2003 Budget: $35,000

PR Team: The Powell Group (Dallas) and the Dallas Museum of Art (Dallas) Campaign: Dallas Museum of Art stays open for 100 hours Time Frame: Summer 2002 - January 2003 Budget: $35,000

Roughly 150 years old, the city of Dallas is a young city by most historical standards. So when the Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) approached its 100th anniversary, museum officials wanted to celebrate the entire year with special events and exhibits, making it a historical event itself. With diverse programs and collections, the museum staff, including marketing and communications director Judy Conner, also wanted to reach out to the Dallas community and invite it into the museum. To generate buzz, the DMA tapped AOR The Powell Group to do media relations for the event. "It was a chance to show the citizens of Dallas that the museum is more than paintings and sculptures," says Powell Group SAE Kimberly Packard. Strategy Inasmuch as Dallas is a well-known sports town, the museum's PR department knew that it needed to use the event to make art exciting for the community and celebrate the city's history in order to compete and gain attention. "From a communications standpoint, we wanted to welcome people into the museum, and thank the community for its support." Tactics To kick off the centennial year, the PR team opted to keep the museum open for 100 hours over the course of five days in January, complete with entertainment such as dance and music. It was something that no other museum had done before. Planning started a year before the actual event, and included members of the museum's education, operations, programming, curatorial, marketing, and catering departments. Starting four months out, Packard and her Powell Group associates pitched the event to local and national press, as well as creating promotional partnerships with local radio stations, which would help drive attendance. DJs came to the museum to either broadcast live or spin for the crowds at various times of the day. Execution of the event was a matter of booking talent ahead of time and keeping things flowing smoothly, from the early-morning Tai Chi classes, to the midnight "insomniac" tours of the galleries, to the ongoing films and gallery showings. Results During the event, more than 45,000 people took in the culture at all hours of the day and night. Many were first-time visitors, and they came from all kinds of ethnic and economic backgrounds. Conner says, "We tried to get the word out to every segment of the community, and they all came. It was ethnically and culturally diverse." Media relations succeeded in getting placement on the front page of the Dallas Morning News, as well as prominent mentions with the AP, The New York Times, and NPR. The PR team was also pleased about the image of the museum in the media coverage. "Not only did the 100 Hours event engage members of a city that supports sports events much more than arts events, but it also showed the museum in a new light," Packard says. "People didn't just come because of the hype," Conner explains. "Many were in the galleries experiencing the art very thoughtfully, and that was true whether it was 8am or 3am." Surprisingly, the 100 Hours event turned out to be a positive internal relations move as well. "Our staff took so much pride in the 100 Hours," Conner exclaims. "It took everyone's help, and we all learned a lot about teamwork." Future The Powell Group will collaborate with the DMA again for a centennial event in October for its "100 Treasures for 100 Years" exhibit. In the meantime, the museum will feature Texan artists in the spring, and a special Renoir exhibit in the summer.

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