It’s been a busy semester, and the Marketing Team hasn’t been exempt from the chaos. The exhibit opens in one week, and while there is still a bit to be done, it is also worthwhile to reflect on what has been done thus far to advertise Making Illinois.
Research how to advertise an exhibition, and one will find a lot of lists. These lists include ideas that engage the community and disseminate the plans for an exhibit to as wide of an audience as possible. In the spirit of “listicles,” this format can help us account for what the Marketing Team has done so far this semester.
1. Create social media accounts… and actually update them
We started accounts for Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. We have updated these frequently for the exhibit, creating content that includes artifacts to be included in the exhibit, tidbits about Illinois’s history, and our progress. In these final days leading up to the exhibit, we have been trying to post something everyday on at least one of the social media accounts to engage with as many people as possible. These accounts have been especially useful for keeping people that are not physically in the area updated on the exhibit (i.e. parents, mentors, et cetera).
Pictured: The Twitter account page for Making Illinois
[Follow us: Twitter Facebook Instagram]
2. Same goes with the website
The exhibit website is the perfect way to connect with potential audiences by serving as an information hub for the exhibit. The site offers a comprehensive space for data about the Historical Administration Program, the Tarble (our host site, including hours and directions), the class blog, social media links, and more. The site is also home to interactive educational elements related to the themes of the exhibit.
3. Print a poster series and use them
It’s not enough to have catchy poster. Posters and flyers should be distributed throughout the community. For our exhibit, we created a poster and a flyer, both corresponding aesthetically. To make these creations worth our while, we distributed them across the EIU campus and around town.
Pictured: The poster and flyer for Making Illinois advertising the exhibit at EIU
4. Send out a Press Release
Social media is great, but sometimes good old fashioned ink and paper can’t be beat. Creating and sending out a press release for local newspapers has been a great way to reach out to audiences that don’t engage with social media while continuing to engage with audiences that do. Only a week until the exhibit, and some area newspapers are starting to publish bits about our work.
5. Make use of other community resources
Whether it’s through EIU or beyond, Making Illinois has made use of many such resources. We sent our press release to EIU’s student newspaper and will add the opening night to EIU’s webpage of weekly happenings. Beyond EIU, the Marketing Team taped a segment on CiLiving, a human interest news show for Central Illinois, to be aired on April 4th. These avenues ensure that awareness of our exhibit is forced into the lives of Central Illinoisans at EIU and beyond.
Pictured: The Marketing Team on CiLiving (Left to Right: Matt Metcalf (Host), Mary Challman, Rachel Tavaras(me), and Kyle Dickson)
6. Plan an enticing opening night and send out personal invitations
Planning the opening night has been slightly chaotic. Luckily, as the graduate assistant for our host site (The Tarble Arts Center), I am regularly in close contact with the Tarble’s office manager, Sally. I was able to look at menus for opening receptions in the past, and I have adjusted the menu to fit our needs and budget. With Sally’s guidance, I was able to order some delicious refreshments from the local restaurant What’s Cookin’ for our opening night.
However, opening night isn’t just about the food. We had to create a program for an organized, enjoyable experience. We arranged for a few speakers to give their welcoming comments at the beginning of the reception, and we distributed the program with the flyer and personalized invitation to VIPs and exhibit contributors.
7. Create a fabulous trailer
The trailer was a daunting task, but one of our Marketing Team members made it work. Not only did she create an exhibit trailer that conveyed each theme of the exhibit in a collective way, she created three sub-trailers of sorts, each elaborating on one of the three exhibit themes. These videos give audiences an intriguing taste of what the exhibit will offer, effectively expanding our audience.
Pictured: Still from our exhibit trailer, can be found with the other Making Illinois videos on our YouTube channel
The marketing process for the exhibit is far from over. However, the momentum that we have built so far will hopefully draw many interested visitors this upcoming opening weekend! In the mean time, follow us on social media (Twitter, Facebook , and Instagram) for more updates!