OAK PARK, IL: The Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio Foundation has grand designs for a greater PR presence than ever before.
Chicago-based Jill Lewis Public Relations has been charged with a fairly comprehensive PR assignment: raising the foundation's public profile, attracting corporate sponsors and helping coordinate a major restoration project. Lewis will be assisted by another Chicago firm, Deborah Schneider Design, which will help with corporate identity and branding services.
The non-profit organization, established in 1974, oversees Wright's house in Oak Park and his Robie House on the University of Chicago campus. One of Lewis' key tasks is to draw the sites together in the public's mind, according to Julie Richard, director of external relations for the foundation.
Richard is also hoping to increase the number of visitors to Robie House.
While 80,000 people (each paying dollars 8 admission) visited Wright's home last year, the Robie House had only about 25,000 visitors, and the foundation would like to increase that figure to 80,000.
Richard interviewed four PR firms before selecting Lewis. 'We were looking for the right person, someone who understood our mission,' said Richard. 'Jill was the most professional and the most personable, and seemed to 'get' what we were trying to do.'
The foundation and Lewis are putting together a PR plan that will carry through the rest of the year. Lewis has also taken over day-to-day PR functions as Richard, who joined the foundation late last year, searches to fill what had been the foundation's media manager's spot. The person who held that role left in April and the job is being redefined as a marketing post.
Richard would not disclose the dollar value of the PR work, but did note the firm is donating services in addition to its paid work. To cover the billings, the foundation is using funds recently received from the Chicago Community Trust. There will also be some print and radio advertising, and the foundation is hoping to place PSAs on local TV stations.
The foundation's current project is a dollars 6 million house restoration.