Art Institute makes a splash with unique grand opening

The Art Institutes, a division of the Education Management Corporation (EDMC), opens many campuses across the country each year. But rather than a ribbon-cutting ceremony, the school likes to bring creativity to its openings.

The Art Institutes, a division of the Education Management Corporation (EDMC), opens many campuses across the country each year. But rather than a ribbon-cutting ceremony, the school likes to bring creativity to its openings.

At the opening of The Art Institute of Michigan, it enlisted Marx Layne PR to help with its paint splash, where attendees got to throw paint onto a blank canvas.

Strategy
EDMC and Marx Layne wanted to pitch to larger Detroit-area media, local suburban outlets, such as the Oakland Business Review; and local blogs and Web sites, including Metro Detroit LiveJournal, to promote the school and grand opening.

"We also do advanced governmental relations work to introduce the school to key leaders," says Jacki Muller, VP for PR and communications for EDMC.

Tactics
"Marx Layne utilized their media contacts and knowledge of the Detroit market to secure interview opportunities and placements," says Mark Toth, director of PR for new schools at EDMC. In addition to press releases and media alerts, school president Ted Blashak served as the spokesman to the press.

After the grand opening, the "paint splash" artwork was displayed in the school's gallery, Muller says.

Results
The event attracted 150 guests. It also generated 40 media placements, with coverage in The Detroit Free Press, WWJ NewsRadio, and Crain's Detroit Business. Other indicators of a successful grand opening event included increased interest from prospective students and ongoing relationships between the school's president and the community, according to EDMC.

Future
Grand openings are scheduled for Austin, TX, Sunnyvale, CA, and Tucson, AZ, all of which will include the paint splash component.

PR team: Education Management Corporation (Pittsburgh, PA)and Marx Layne Public Relations (Farmington Hills, MI)

Campaign: The Art Institute of Michigan

Duration: January to March 2008

Budget: $10,000

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