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March 03, 2009


Frankie Roberto

Love it.

Elizabeth Damewood Gaucher

Crazy good and relevant to more than museum issues! Thank you.


Certainly relevant (and humorous). As long as the material being published/posted is agreed-upon and approved first, and not just sent out at whim. Allowing any employee to act as "spokesperson" on behalf of the organization can be problematic and hamper years of work on behalf of public affairs/marketing/communications staff.

Dana Mitroff Silvers

This was my personal highlight of Web Wise. What a great way to kick off the conference. We all face the same barriers.

Amanda French

Emwhy, you might want to read the Cluetrain Manifesto, which argues very persuasively indeed that non-marketing employees are the very best spokespeople for an organization in the Internet Age. Everyone can smell soulless marketing and branding from ten miles away; what they want are real conversations with real people.

But maybe it depends what you mean by "material." What *do* you mean by "material"? Blog posts? Pictures of the Smithsonian panda? High-resolution images of paintings or manuscripts?

James G. Leventhal

this is great. tried to find on twoyube, shlidestare, etc...and it wasn't posted yet...wanna SPREAD.....let us know when it goes up!


Love this.

I certainly agree with Amanda French that audiences love and respond to authentic voices. Marketing teams tend to want to control their turf just as collections staff want to control theirs, but their roles are changing as well. Yes, you can translate interesting content about the museum into public communications like newsletters and collateral. Yes, you can set up a great media relations strategy and dissemination policies. Yes, you have a huge role to play in design and image and in identifying and reaching audiences. But to make the mistake of stifling the authentic voices of museum staff is to rob the museum of its unique value to those people who want a relationship with it. This is just a judgment issue: sure there may be a few 'loose cannon' staff who should not represent the institution. But on the whole, the staff has very high buy-in, personal investment in success, and true enthusiasm. They are already presenting to the public daily and at conferences and seminars, and they are posting online too - just not necessarily in ways you know about. Establishing goals and guidelines for staff doing social networking, and then allowing them to develop your museum's voice - that can be the foundation for a truly meaningful and productive relationship with your institution.

I love getting Tweets from the Smithsonian, which are quirky and often funny. Other museums do this really well, too. I recently had a conversation with a history museum CEO who related a story about letting one of his curators blog. The curator mentioned that on the way to some program or other, he'd been pulled over...for speeding. The marketing staffer called the CEO in a panic - "We can't let him say that!" and the CEO thought for a minute and then replied "Well....why not?" Is there really a reason why all online presence has to be bland and devoid of personality? Does the pull-over story do harm, or does it humanize and democratize the museum and make it feel more familiar and personal? There is a lot of fear, but we are leaving an age in which we manage institutional images facelessly. And I think that's a good thing.

(The only unrealistic part of the video? It's supposed to be a museum, but the administrator, the web guy, and the 3rd person referred to are...all men. That isn't my experience of museum work, where women outnumber the guys 3:1. Credit where credit's due?)

Chris Alexander


You are awesome! Well done. I'm glad that I was able to meet and talk with you a few weeks ago. Helps me appreciate it even more! Keep it up.


OMG this is so awesome. Thanks for sharing this with all of us!

Michael Edson

Thanks everyone! Crawling out of the fog of flu and catching up with messages.

re: Michelle & that they're both guys - - yes, I agonized about that but ultimately felt more comfortable ridiculing my own gender and ethnic group.

I just cross posted to the Smithsonian 2.0 blog at http://smithsonian20.typepad.com, which just might ruffle some feathers.

Account Deleted

"lose" not "loose"

Beth Harris

Loved it!!! Also true for Higher Ed.!

Michael Edson

re: "lose/loose" thanks MarketingMentor. Fixed!

re: Beth Harris "also true for Higher Ed.!" My first reaction was "great!" Then, after a few seconds, I realized "Oh, sorry to hear that ;("

Beth Harris

Sorry is right! You have no idea...maybe even worse...!

Sonja Plummer-Morgan

This is the single most instructive and useful training tool I've seen in a very long time. Thank you!!

Adam Crymble

I'd love to see the same done from the other perspective.

Michael Edson

Re: Sonja - - thanks!!!

Re: Adam - - In all honesty, I've been thinking of doing that. What would the rhetoric be? devoting resources to trendy, high-cost/low-impact "boutique" efforts at the expense of core services to core users?

Michael Edson

...And actually, I can think of sites i've been responsible for where we've put way too much effort into breaking new ground without spending any time on things like the "visit" page, effectiveness of search results, basic user experience.

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