In 2008, the Atlanta Botanical Garden, the Southeast’s premier public garden, secured Moore in America, the largest outdoor exhibit of famed sculptor Henry Moore’s massive works ever assembled in the U.S., as its 2009 blockbuster art exhibition. The Garden’s leadership team needed an integrated communications plan that would help drive 158,000 visitors through the exhibit, grow membership interest from the community, and obtain a minimum of 10 million media impressions during the exhibit’s first three months.
c21 began by conducting extensive primary and secondary research to identify visitation trends relevant to the Garden and its art exhibitions. From the research, we crafted a detailed 2008-2009 plan to position the Garden as the Southeast’s premier outdoor art exhibition site through implementing strategies to reach four target audiences: lifestyle media; families with working parents; younger, tech-savvy adults who were not familiar with the Garden or its exhibitions; and travelers visiting Atlanta. Those audiences were reached via tactics including:
Branding – c21 created the “Explore Moore” tagline and key messages to reach each target audience. Each message was supported by facts and data to compel visitation and they were used as the content driver for the Garden’s campaign to its 30,000-member e-newsletter list.
Social Media – To reach mothers responsible for planning family outings and young art aficionados to compel them to visit the exhibition (demographics that are heavily engaged in social media), c21 created a Garden Facebook page with a Moore in America photography contest and a blog featuring commentary from the Garden’s exhibition manager to help improve search engine optimization.
Media Relations – Teams from c21 and the Garden brainstormed methods to drive media attention to Moore in America and help meet the objective of 10 million impressions. As a result, c21 implemented the following tactics:
Media list enhancement – c21 migrated the Garden’s media list from an Outlook contact list to a formatted and searchable database, and also grew the list from 200 to more than 1,000 contacts. Each pitch, press release, press conference invitation and media alert was sent using c21’s Direct Dialogue, a CAN-SPAM compliant email system that tracks open, click-through and readership performance rates. As a result, c21 and the Garden could monitor reporter/media behavior and determine the best steps for follow-up.
Customized pitches – c21 brainstormed several angles and developed a series of targeted pitches for national, regional and local media contacts to secure coverage of the exhibit. These pitches included such concepts as the eco-friendly garden, staycations and the Facebook photo contest.
Press conference – Working with the Garden’s team, c21 developed statistics, key messages and questions for the Garden’s executive director, a run-of-show schedule, a fall-back plan in case of rain, three e-vites, follow-up calls and thank you notes.
Programs – Collaborating with the Garden’s education department and exhibition team, c21 devised creative programming opportunities to engage families and young adults with the exhibition. Those successful events included:
Snore with Moore: Spend the night under the stars with Garden horticulturists while learning about Henry Moore’s life and work.
Big Draw: Kids draw their own version of large Henry Moore statues with the help of artists steeped in the fundamentals of pen drawings.
S‘mores with Moore: Partnering with the Atlanta Girl Scouts, the Garden opened its exhibition for special tours, culminating in a s‘mores party and education about LEED certified buildings, including the LEED Gold certified Visitor Center.
Moore Yoga: Kashi Atlanta’s yoga practitioners were invited for 45-minute outdoor sessions followed by education on Henry Moore’s art.
c21 and the Garden met both objectives – 10 million media impressions during the first three months of the exhibition and 53,000 visitors through the turnstiles within the first two months. Additionally, Garden attendance increased by 11 percent and membership sales increased by 19 percent as a result of the exhibition and its promotion. From April through June 2009, c21 secured more than 28 million media impressions across local, regional and national media outlets including the Atlanta Business Chronicle, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Design Public Blog, the Garden Design Blog, Go: Airtran Magazine, Newsweek.com, Points North and Veranda. Social media outlets also played a role in driving visitors to the exhibit. Within six months, the Facebook page accrued more than 2,000 fans, and received in excess of 30 fan-photo submissions for the contest. Also within six months, the blog garnered 22 subscribers and more than 280 visitors. The Garden’s first integrated communications plan, written by c21, also was a monumental milestone, and proved its value in delivering upon the Garden’s marketing PR objectives.