This post sets out practical ideas and inspiration from around the world on communications as museums and galleries re-open following the Covid-19 lockdown. It follows Part 1 which set out strategic questions and tips about communications that organisations can consider when re-opening.
Tailor your comms to your organisation
- Your reassuring information and safety messages don’t have to be dry and generic – link them to your collections and tailor them to your organisation if you can.
- this “Step on My Blue Suede Shoes” floor marker from Elvis Presley’s Graceland
- this gallery closed sign from Auckland Museum
- this screen at the ticket counter at The ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum, Denmark
- this on-brand re-opening video for the Royal Air Force Museum
- and this video from Mauritshuis in the Netherlands that manages to be creative, make good use of its collections and convey important safety messages to its viewers in a light-hearted way.
Really make the most of your website
- Signpost all your marketing to a focal point on your website (ideally a short and clear url) which you can easily update regularly.
- Date your information page so visitors instantly know if it’s current.
- Use FAQs as a way of clearly breaking down key information for visitors so they can easily find answers to their questions – consider asking your audiences via social media channels what questions they have ahead of a potential visit, and answer them. Creswell Crags have a great set of clear FAQs for potential visitors.
Consider the images you portray
- Audit your marketing images and take down any showing busy groups and crowds which will not represent the visitor experience going forward, and put people off.
- If you’re requiring or advising visitors to wear a face covering when they visit, include some photos of visitors wearing them in your marketing. This will act as a visual prompt, reinforce the message, and help normalise it. The Cromwell Museum has recently announced they request visitors wear face coverings with a photo of a statue of Cromwell wearing one.
- Involve and show your team in your communications as this is reassuring and shows your whole organisation being on board. I love how this re-opening video from Historic Royal Palaces involves so many different team members.
Don’t forget the importance of internal comms
- It might sound obvious but make sure staff, volunteers and trustees are kept up-to-date with and are involved in re-opening plans and policies.
- Prepare answers to FAQs that staff/volunteers may face from visitors and brief them. For example. why do visitors have to pay the same as before when some of the galleries/interactives/experiences aren’t open? Why do visitors have to wear a face covering in the museum shop but not the museum as a whole?
- Encourage anyone who’s front of house and in visitor-facing roles to feed back on visitor experiences, whether through anecdotal feedback, observational or more formalised surveys. And back office staff – including those with responsibility for communications – should be encouraged to spend time on the “shop floor” to get a better understanding of what it’s like and how the experience can be improved.
Make the most of stakeholder comms
- Invite local media to visit and walk through what a visitor experience will be like.
- Partner up with other local attractions and support each other, cross-promote visitors and encourage visits to your locality.
Word of mouth
- Encourage early visitors who have a positive experience to spread the word, whether it’s to their friends and families or on TripAdvisor.
- Listen to and be responsive to feedback (whether directly to you or on TripAdvisor or Google Reviews).
A big mismatch in your messaging and visitors’ reviews will have a detrimental impact on trust and future visits (see for example some very mixed TripAdvisor reviews since re-opening for LegoLand Windsor).
Make the most of the We’re Good to Go mark
- Apply for and use the We’re Good to Go mark in your promotion. I’ve seen lots of organisations already proudly sharing the mark e.g. the National Holocaust Memorial Centre and Museum on its Facebook page, and Woodbridge Tide Mill Museum on its home page.
- Contact Visit Britain for PR opportunities (page 21), who are interested in hearing:
- Stories of people or tourism businesses that are adapting and / or innovating as they prepare to re-open
- Day trip content ideas an hour or less from a major city, town or location
- And news and major upcoming events.
I’d love to discover more great examples of museums and cultural organisations’ re-opening communication, so do share if you know of any gems.