The National Museum of Ireland – History in the Making!
The National Museum of Ireland began life as the Museum of Science and Art, Dublin which was founded on 14 August 1877 by act of Parliament. Today, the National Museum of Ireland or NMI operates across three locations in Dublin and one in County Mayo with 162 staff who all work on collecting and curating Ireland’s history, arts, culture and archaeology.
Ann Daly has been the Head of Marketing with the National Museum Ireland for over 19 years. She heads up a tight team of five people who are responsible for devising marketing strategies for all four sites of the National Museum of Ireland, managing communications but also the management of the Museum’s commercial operations including retailing, catering and corporate services. Ann is an experienced marketer, PR professional and industrial relations practitioner, having previously spent 11 years as a Senior Marketing Manager with the Diageo group.
Stories to tell
The National Museum of Ireland has been telling incredible stories since 1877. Ireland is steeped in history, surrounded by interesting archaeology, a place where culture and the arts can flourish. The National Museum has been using MediaHQ since August 2018 to tell these stories. They have sent over 300 press releases through MediaHQ telling tales of an Ireland where Vikings roamed, oak trees dominated and rival chieftain factions ruled the land.
The number of press releases the National Museum sends out weekly varies depending on what events and exhibitions are taking place. Whilst they operate a schedule of pre-planned press coverage around exhibitions and historic collections, they also must react to queries from the press around issues like interesting archaeological finds. According to Ann Daly, they target both national and local press with their press releases,
“There are no rules when it comes to our press releases. At times during the year, we are extremely busy with stories and informative campaigns, and these can be as much of local interest as they can be of national interest. We recently held an exhibition in Glendalough where we needed to quickly inform the local Wicklow press. That is where MediaHQ comes into its own”.
Ann says that not all their customers are online, so they must be conscious of getting coverage in regional and national print media as well as online publications.
InForm – a two-year collaboration
She cites their recent campaign to promote InForm, a two-year collaboration with the Design and Crafts Council of Ireland, as the perfect example of how MediaHQ helps them to get their message out to the wider public.
“InForm is a very big collaboration for the National Museum where 22 emerging makers from the Design and Craft Council create new works inspired by artefacts from the Art, Industrial and Irish Folklore collections at the Museum.”
The release was sent out through MediaHQ where press releases can be cut and pasted into the release tab. From there, a release can be scheduled and sent to any number of pre-made national and local media lists from national news desks to regional newspaper editors. Releases can be scheduled for any time and personalised to target individual journalists.
The InForm campaign hit all the right notes and was successful in getting extensive press coverage across all major outlets including RTE news.
Evaluating a campaign – The past is our future
The communications team at the National Museum of Ireland can use the release reports function within MediaHQ to measure the click, delivery and open rates between different press releases. This gives them eyes on who is interested in which topics, at what time of the day and what types of stories are getting more traction than others. For a small busy PR team like Ann’s, this feature helps them to tailor future stories and press releases more towards what media are looking for.
Life before MediaHQ
Before signing up for MediaHQ, Ann and her team manually kept lists of journalists on excel spreadsheets. She remembers the challenges in a busy communications team of keeping up to date with an ever-changing world of media contacts,
“Our media lists were held on excel spreadsheets and had to be constantly updated. We could not keep up with the changes in media personnel as time went on and felt like we needed a technology solution like MediaHQ. I would buy a media contacts book at the start of the year, but it was invariably out of date one week later”.
A world of contacts
MediaHQ now allows Ann Daly and her team access to 60,000 up to date media contacts all neatly curated in lists that they can search and edit. Their remit ranges from arts to culture, natural history and archaeology. That diversity of coverage means they need access to a range of journalists and media with varied interests. The topic search function within MediaHQ helps the National Museum’s communication team to find the right media contact when topics with niche interests – such as archaeological topics – come into play.
“If you don’t know where you have come from, you don’t know where you are.”
Covid19 – history repeating itself
One hundred years after the Spanish flu pandemic and the world is hit by another global pandemic. Ann Daly and her team understand that the key to understanding our future lies in first understanding our past. Stories of the past can educate, inform and shape our future.
Online inquiries to the National Museum websites show Ann and her team that there is a pent-up demand for the museum’s services. She is aware of the extensive interest people have in learning about Ireland’s past, its culture and natural history. She describes how the Covid19 crisis forced them to pivot quickly to deliver all their key services online.
“We had to move quickly. We were forced to close our attractions and quickly move our exhibitions and events online. When we did start to reopen again, we had to communicate to the public that our attractions were safe and how they could book their family in for a trip to one of our locations. MediaHQ helped with this communications strategy.”
The National Museum depended heavily on international visitors which completely dried up during 2020 and 2021. Ann Daly saw a renewed interest from Irish families taking their children to experience and learn about Ireland’s history and culture at their four sites across Dublin and Mayo.
Whilst visitor numbers fell from 1.3 million in 2019 to just 310,000 across 2020, the museum is now reaching more people through online interactions and visitor numbers are recovering strongly as we exit the pandemic and roll out a national vaccination programme.
Ann and her team are ready for whatever the latter half of 2021 throws at them. The National Museum’s role in protecting and cultivating our history, culture and heritage is getting stronger. MediaHQ has helped the National Museum communicate this message and grow, develop and expand to be ready for a covid free world in 2022.