R ’n R Hall of Fame to up PR beat with new agency hires

CLEVELAND: The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is all shook up about its image.

CLEVELAND: The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is all shook up about its image.

CLEVELAND: The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is all shook up about its


In a departure from its past marketing approach, the museum is planning

to hire major PR help - including an outside agency - in order to raise

its profile within the music industry and the local community.

The hall of fame’s director of communications has left and will not

immediately be replaced, according to VP of planning and development

Janis Purdy.

Rather, the museum will wait until it hires outside PR counsel before

deciding where a PR director and other internal staffers will fit within

its communications hierarchy. In the interim, day-to-day PR

responsibilities are being handled by the marketing department.

Purdy said around 25 PR agencies have already contacted the museum about

the prospective assignment. ’We need to appeal to potential sponsors and

donors,’ she said, adding that the twin focuses of the music industry

and the local community could lead to the HOF working with two


The museum has several key sponsors (including Levi’s and Pepsi), and

Purdy believes their presence has left the Cleveland business community

with the impression that the hall doesn’t need more corporate support -

a perception Purdy hopes to change with a business-oriented PR


At the same time, the music business considers the museum a commercial

attraction rather than a serious institution devoted to music study and

preservation, so a separate PR campaign could validate its presence in

the eyes of the artistic community.

Purdy plans to move quickly to find PR help. She expects responses to

her RFP within two weeks and hopes to have PR help in place for several

key events this year, including a new fashion exhibit in May and the

museum’s fifth anniversary in September. She declined comment on how

much the museum hopes to spend on PR, but said she is looking for paid

help rather than pro bono support.

Ron Watt, a Cleveland PR veteran who sold his firm last year to

Fleishman-Hillard, thinks the museum’s PR efforts should originate at

home. ’I think they’re losing a lot of people right here,’ he said.

’They’ve got to put the money in and do it right.’

The five-year-old institution started out with a great deal of hoopla

and sky-high attendance, but has now leveled off at 500,000 visitors per


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