National Civil Rights Museum Promo, Case study RE-ENGAGING AMERICA IN CIVIL RIGHTS

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Industry Museums & Libraries
Media Promo & PR, Case study
Released July 2012

Credits & Description

Category: Best Integrated Campaign Led by PR
President: Monty Hagler (RLF Communications)
Vice President: Mary Leigh Wallace (RLF Communications)
Creative Director: Ron Irons (RLF Communications)
Senior Account Executive: Aleasha Vuncannon (RLF Communications)
Assistant Account Executive: Rokeya Worthy (RLF Communications)
Account Executive: Ak Wilkinson (RLF Communications)
Media placement: Media Relations - Print, TV, Online - The New York Times, USA Today, CNN, CBS Evening News, The New Yorker, People, Ti - 1 August 2009
Media placement: PSA Campaign - Print, TV, Radio - American Legacy, Southern Living, Centric Network, Black Meetings & Tourism, NC - 1 October 2009
Media placement: Social Media Campaign - Facebook, Twitter, YouTube - 2 January 2010

Summary of the Campaign
The International Civil Rights Center & Museum in Greensboro, N.C. is one of only two in situ civil rights museums in the United States. The Museum centers around the original F.W. Woolworth lunch counter where, on Feb. 1, 1960, four African-American college students sat down at the store’s 'whites only' lunch counter and challenged the institutions segregation. In 1993, two men saved the building from destruction and for 17 years, struggled to transform the historic civil rights landmark into a museum. On February 1, 2010, 50 years after the lunch counter sit-ins, their dream became a reality and America needed to know. We crafted a content-rich integrated communications campaign encompassing media relations, public service announcements, web redesign, events, social media and grassroots fundraising. In the space of six months, the campaign saw nearly 192 million media impressions, increased Web site traffic by 276 percent, sold out tours, and doubled the fundraising goal.

The Goal
Our goal was to establish the Museum’s immediate credibility and visibility surrounding its grand opening date of Feb. 1, 2010, and the 50th anniversary of the Greensboro sit-ins. We needed to accomplish four objectives: (1) Generate national awareness for the Museum, (2) Execute a historic grand opening on Feb. 1, 2010, (3) Expand the Museum’s online reach and (4) Launch and support the grassroots fundraising arm of the Museum.

More than 192 million earned media impressions (USD 3.3 million media value). Coverage included: USA Today, New York Times, the Associated Press, CNN, People, The Wall Street Journal, The New Yorker, NBC’s Today Show. The Museum’s Web site experienced a 276 percent increase in traffic after the redesign and social media outreach. More than 11,000 people became a fan on Facebook in six weeks (9,000+ unique page views; 22,000+ total page views and 4,800+ photo views). The Twitter account has attracted more than 300 followers. The YouTube channel received 3,400 video views in six weeks. Sold out tours to the Museum since opening day. PSAs distributed to 150+ broadcast affiliates across the Southeast U.S. and national cable outlets. Placements were were also distributed to 100+ print outlets, 50+ national and regional radio outlets. Through our marketing support, the Museum raised USD 750,000 in three months, doubling its goal.

National media outreach targeting virtually all segments of mainstream from media from August 2009 – January 2010. We conducted media tours in New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., and had more 600 phone calls with journalists. An emotional public service announcement campaign spanning print and broadcast was executed from December 2009 – February 2010. Television spots featured prominent civil rights activists like Rev. Jesse Jackson, Rev. Al Sharpton, Dr. Dorothy Height and Congressman John Lewis. An overhaul of the Museum’s Web site in December 2009 provided new, engaging design and content to encourage ongoing dialogue and education. A social media campaign encompassing Facebook, Twitter and YouTube drove traffic to the site and spurred conversation. A local ad campaign supported a grassroots fundraising effort and encouraged Museum donations. A unique landing page on the Museum’s Web site established in November 2009 captured interest from the placements and donations.

The Situation
The events of 1960 had fallen under the heavy veil of time, and few under age 60 remember the significance of the Sit-In Movement, or life in the segregated South. There is also tremendous competition in the U.S. among museums devoted to civil rights and African-American culture, and the Museum needed to establish its place immediately upon opening.

The Strategy
Engage audiences by intertwining the story of the 1960 lunch counter sit-ins with the Museum’s own compelling story. The Museum’s co-founders had fought to save the civil rights landmark from destruction and struggled for 17 years against adversity to transform it into a civil rights museum. We established an emotional connection between the 50th anniversary of the sit-ins and the Museum’s February 1, grand opening. We crafted an integrated communications plan using a variety of tools to ensure the Museum captured national attention for its historic grand opening.