Heritage Management Organization’s ongoing Executive Leadership Workshops on Heritage Management aiming at providing heritage managers with opportunities to develop their professional skills, continues with a steady stream of participants and some of the best instructors available today.
Communication Strategy and Strategic Marketing for Cultural Organizations
What does it take to be an effective communicator? The ability to put your thoughts coherently into words; presentation skills; presence of mind; a combination of all the above?
The participants of the Workshop on Communication Strategy and Strategic Marketing for Cultural Organizations experienced the opportunity to find ways to address this issue through an interactive 3 day course that combined a series of simulation of situations, writing exercises aimed at honing the skills of the participants reaching out to a specific audience, learning the basics of journalism and how to be an effective communicator. The participants ranged from current undergraduate students, recent graduates of the MA program in Heritage Management, PhD candidates, and professionals in the fields of PR and Communications. The workshop was held from the 26-28th of September 2016, in Elefsina.
With more than 30 years of experience as a journalist, Derwin Johnson, the instructor of this workshop, is an independent senior communication executive and educator, currently working as senior counsel at APCO worldwide. Mr. Johnson provides strategic and tactical guidance and is counsel to financial service firms, law firms, governments and Fortune 500 companies representing a wide range of industries, including airline, professional services, and technology, pharmaceutical, health care, hospitality as well as beauty and fashion. His range of clientele extends from governments to Non Profit organizations and Mr. Johnson breaks down the modes of communication according to each audience type. “The idea is to help them understand the type of audience one is addressing. Even something as simple as an Op-ed differs in its language than a Letter to the Editor or an article. Everything has its own voice and it is important to be perceptive enough.”
The 3 day workshop was divided into 3 major categories, as the 6 participants were broken up into 2 teams to tackle the various tasks assigned to them.
Day 1: Developing a Media Tool Kit and learning how to write like a journalist.
On their first day, the workshop’s participants were ‘greeted’ with a ‘welcome package’ that contained a heavy yellow folder with printed material and bibliography on the skills and strategies of an effective communicator. After reviewing the material and with Mr. Johnson’s guidance, they were given team-wise exercises, focusing on story-pitching and ways of approaching journalists or newspapers for a story. The differences between an effective OP-ed and Press release were hashed out with a specific word limit that forced participants to think within the boundaries and thus, use the most effective language they could.
Day 2: Online Communication and Social Media and the nuances of traditional media versus that of the online realm.
The thin line between a concise and specific blog and the art of using social media as a communication tool were addressed on Day 2, as participants practiced in writing a blog and learned about customizing content. The transition from traditional media outlets towards social media, comes with its own set of rules and challenges and participants enjoyed a day of experiencing the benefits of social media and using them to get a specific message across.
Day 3: Crisis Simulation: a hands on experience of being the spokesperson during a hypothetical crisis situation and dealing with it diplomatically
On the last day of the workshop, the participants were literally put under the spotlight as each had to act as a spokesperson to a given crisis situation, a delicate matter that involved a participant in one of HMO’s summer schools falling in love with a local, getting pregnant and being faced with the prospect of marriage and life in a traditional, remote village of the Greek countryside. During a simulated press-conference, each participant embodying the role of the spokesperson in charge had to handle this sensitive issue as well as address the ‘fiery’ questions of a team of media representatives, acted mainly by Mr. Johnson himself. The exercise was recorded with a camera and later reviewed by the whole group. As each answer was meticulously scrutinized by Mr. Johnson, every participant had the opportunity to receive personalized feedback and guidance on the effectiveness of his/hers responses.
Overall, the 2017 Communications Workshop aimed at enabling the participants with the required skills and confidence at becoming better communicators in their chosen career paths as heritage managers. In a take home exam, they were asked to build a Strategic Communication Plan for the HMO and specifically describe their methods for communicating their strongest messages to target audience(s), using the right media channels to make an impact, thus getting an effective response. The participants took away more than their learnings from the workshop, such as the network they built by working together during these intense three days as well as a unique skill set that would give them an edge in their future endeavors. The participants shared their after thoughts on their experiences and how they could put them to use in their work.
The 6 participants shared their thoughts on their 3 day experience:
Korica Ljiljana, a PR manager for the Hellenic Foundation for Culture, Serbia: “I looked forward to the opportunity for working with participants from different backgrounds. Although I have been working for 8 years in the Hellenic Foundation for Culture, I have never received a practical training that is directly related to my professional duties. I loved how Mr. Johnson encouraged us to think out of the box and it opened up new avenues of thought for me. I believe that after attending the workshop, I would be able, based on the hands-on principles that we learnt, to make an initial, long-term, step-by-step communication plan for the Hellenic Foundation for Culture/for my Organization, and define the directions and principles that would guide it in the future.”
Sarah Fanelli, an advanced MA candidate in HMO’s program in Heritage Management, from the US: “I originally wanted to join the workshop to learn more about publicity and communications involving press releases and announcements on all types of media. My biggest concerns were how to make the invitation’s message both clear and enticing to a wide public, while still maintaining the nuances important to a niche sector of those in culture, heritage, and the arts. Mr. Johnson was especially great at catching us off guard, instances that happen in reality and he instructed us on how to constantly be on guard. I believe that by attending this Communications Workshop, I am now better able to clarify and streamline ideas for specific audiences using what is basically a formula, using Mission Statement, Headline Message, Key Messages, and Proof Points. Because I will be completing the MA program shortly, I feel like I can now clearly communicate my experiences with the MA and what I can contribute to future projects and employers.”
Josephine Perdikidou, a Greek undergraduate student of archaeology in the National and Kapodistrian University Athens: “I seek to enhance public awareness concerning cultural heritage through my love for history and archaeology without ignoring the accelerating growth of urbanization, caused by profound changes in the world. The fine line that separates the present and past shows how significant each and every historical event is in shaping our future. As a result, museums shouldn’t be regarded as graveyards of memory but as thresholds of memory. I thought this workshop gave me the right tools to apply in my quest to raise awareness on my favorite subjects and I really hope I can find the right way to do it!”
Hakan Tarhan, from Turkey and a recent MA graduate of HMO’s program and current PhD candidate for cultural heritage analysis and management at IMT School of Advanced Studies in Italy, felt the workshop helped him to further consolidate his ideas on how to communicate his work and projects and develop the skills necessary to improve as a heritage manager.
Adriana Gilroy, a freelance Creative Strategist from the US: “After the workshop, I had a better sense of what needed to be done with regards to the promotion of my Kefalonia project. I was equipped with great strategies for garnering attention from media outlets, bloggers, and other media channels. I will be able to put together a toolkit for my project in order to better communicate the mission to interested parties.”
Petek Göker Erkose, a History lecturer from Turkey: “I found the contents of the course most challenging as it was not my forte, so I really learnt a lot from the techniques and the simulation exercises we did. In this age of digitization, communication has new rules and takes new dimensions to catch up with the latest trends in the marketing field. This workshop was a great introduction to become acquainted with the basics of communication strategies as well as the more sophisticated methods covering whole steps of designing and executing a communication plan for an institution.”
The Heritage Management Organization’s mission supports the interests of professional development cultural institutions in Athens and abroad. The HMO hosted the Temporary Exhibitions workshop as part of its Executive Leadership series of workshops and seminars in November 2015 at the Benaki Museum in central Athens. Two of the MA students attended the workshop; here are some reflections.
Continue reading “Reflections on the Temporary Exhibition Workshop” »
Last summer, I had the chance to attend a unique event in the South Pacific. The Film Raro paradise challenge took place in Rarotonga; the capital of the Cook Islands. The event consisted in bringing five film crews to make five film projects highlighting the island’s cultural and natural heritage.
Five teams were selected from 2000 entries and they were from USA, New Zealand, Australia, the United Kingdom. The event was preceded by a class that introduced locals to the process of filmmaking.
Prior to the event, the locals assisted to a class about filmmaking and acting.
When the event started, each team had to finish both the production and post-production phase within 14 days. The teams and the projects were very diverse. From New Zealand, David Gould made a film about a young boy who gets touched by the wisdom of a local fisherman that changed his perception about the island. The Stone Brothers from California, adapted Scott Fitzgerald’s Offshore Pirate into a film about a girl who rediscovers her origins upon return to Rarotonga. The Australian team made a comedy about a million pound contest to find a corgi-dog that is supposed to have descended from Queen Elizabeth’s dogs. Karen Williams produced a documentary about ‘Mou Pirri’ a folkloric wedding song that originates from the Cook Islands.
The island lived on the Film Raro rhythm for two consecutive weeks. Rarotongans were involved in the filmmaking and post production process. They volunteered on sets, helped build sets, made props, prepared meals and were the majority of actors in the different films.
The event ended with the projects’ screening in front of a large audience which flocked from the different sides of the island.
I volunteered as a production assistant along with British Indian actor Dizzy Patel and Tahitian student Tiairani Drollet-le-Caill. We got the chance to rotate around film sets. This was an exciting learning experience for all of us. We got the chance to be involved in five films at the same time and see films getting made.
The different films made it into different film festivals and won prices allowing more visibility to the island of Rarotonga, its culture, history and heritage.
Event website: www.filmraro.com
Nader was born in Tunisia and was a student of the MA in Heritage Management 2012/2013. His interest in cinema was nurtured at the Tunisian Federation of Film Societies. Nader holds a B.A in English Language and Literature from the Institute of Human Sciences of Jendouba. He also holds an MA in Cultural Anthropology from New Mexico State University. Nader wants to bring his interest in heritage management to film. In the last two years, he has been developing film projects both in his native country and abroad.
At the beginning of the Spring Semester, the students of the MA in Heritage Management were offered an opportunity to participate in an extracurricular workshop in photography of cultural heritage. The workshop’s first lessons introduced how heritage has been conveyed through photography in the past and in modern times; the next series of lectures gave us the basics on how to use our cameras as well as photographic techniques to make our photos look more professional. The course also encompassed a couple of photography days where we went around outside to practice these newfound techniques.
Using Elefsina as a case study, we were divided into four groups, each with a certain focus. Group 1 was to examine Elefsina’s Industrial Heritage, Group 2 was to capture the Architectural Heritage of Lower Elefsina, Group 3 was to look at the Iera Odos (Sacred Way) as a Cultural Monument, and Group 4 was to illustrate the Tourism Marketing potential of Elefsina.
Group 1: Industrial Heritage
The industrial heritage of Elefsina is vast and complicated, with many facets of interest. This group decided to tackle this subject as a communication between Industrial Heritage and the Water Front of Elefsina.
Group 2: Architectural Heritage of Lower Elefsina
The artistic decision for this project was to take photos of buildings on one street from beginning to end, and to observe its mixtures of architectural styles and designs, to help remind audiences of “why those buildings were built in that way” with connection to the history of Elefsina and those locals who lived there.
Group 3: Iera Odos as a Cultural Monument
In a project entitled “The Perennial Sacred Way,” this group decided to explore the Sacred Way that goes from Kerameikos in Athens to Elefsina both as a cultural monument and as a road; the former being static, unchanging, and the latter being dynamic, always moving.
Group 4: Tourism Marketing of Elefsina
The objective of this project was to convey Elefsina outside of its industrial identity, showcasing the city’s longstanding history and vibrant citizens. Subject matter included the archaeological site, shopkeepers, outdoor markets, and Elefsina’s unique seafront. The approach of marketing was tackled by conveying a day trip of the city through a couple’s perspective.
The workshop will be running again next Fall for the 2014 Masters students and will include more archaeological sites in the greater Athens area.
Brittany Wade is the editor of the Initiative for Heritage Conservancy blog and student of the MA in Heritage Management 2013. Having studied Classics in her undergraduate, Brittany is interested in applying her knowledge of history in the field of archaeology. Her interests are mainly in Prehistoric Minoan and Hellenic history.
NARNIA, or the mouthful New Archaeological Research Network for Integrating Approaches to ancient material studies, is a research project funded by the EU through the Marie Curie Initial Training Networks. The project’s lengthy title, abbreviated into a snappy acronym reminiscent of fantastic tales and adventures defines its purpose well: to build an interdisciplinary network between participating organizations and to facilitate work of young researches in cutting-edge disciplines of archaeological science. Network, coordinate, collaborate, integrate – a modern approach to doing archaeology.
However, NARNIA also has outreach training courses and workshops intended for interested parties not directly involved in the project. These range from technical training courses on specific methodologies (eg. applications of PXRF) to broader theories and practices of documentation and conservation of ancient materials.
Why would you care if you are not the one pointing lasers and peeking through microscopes? For one, trying to extract as much interpretable data from materials and objects as possible using multiple macro- and microscopic methods is a longstanding trend in archaeology. Everything matters; such multidisciplinary approaches drive a lot of modern research and excavation, especially lately as competition is increasing and funding is scarce. Archaeologists study the past but are nowadays very oriented towards the future – enthusiastic about potential new horizons afforded to them by new technologies – and even if they aren’t, they still might end up collaborating with a colleague who very much is. For this reason training workshops such as NARNIA’s are not only useful to young researchers working towards a particular specialization, they are of potential value to other (fieldwork) archaeologists, conservators and heritage workers who wish to update their knowledge on the latest developments in archaeological science as well as to connect with specialists with whom they (didn’t even know they) might want to collaborate. For them, it is important to maintain scientific rigor through having a thorough understanding of how to choose methods that are suitable for the questions being asked, what they can and cannot do along with how to interpret results appropriately.
The workshops are also valuable to students for networking purposes as well as to get a better grasp of what archaeological science actually entails, especially if they are interested in pursuing further studies and a prospective career in these disciplines. Students study archaeology mostly through readings, lectures and practical work in controlled conditions, where they disproportionately deal more with the end-results of others’ (sometimes lifetime) accomplishments and spend less time talking about the drudge-work of field and lab archaeology, i.e. the day-to-day life of an archaeologist. By participating in excavations or lab work, students experience the process of archaeology, rather than just having a glamorized and sometimes (or most times?) misleading mental image of being an archaeologist and can therefore better conclude if such a lifestyle appeals to them and which aspects of archaeology they truly wish to pursue. However, if latest developments in methodologies interest them and their school or organization doesn’t have resident experts and facilities, eg. a radiocarbon dating lab, workshops like NARNIA’s can be a great opportunity to experience and to be inspired by the vibrant future of high-tech archaeology. Interested? Off to NARNIA then!
Sandra Šoštarić graduated in Prehistoric Archaeology, with a focus in bioarchaeology of human bones. Her main interests involve health and disease of past human populations as well as the use of new technology and digital solutions in archaeological research. Having had a breadth of practical experience in different facets of archaeology and related disciplines, from digital documenting of excavations to forensic anthropology, she realizes she loves the past almost as much as the future.