A week and a half ago, I attended the Museum’s luncheon at the Washington Post with two of my co-workers. This was really interesting to me for a variety of reasons. Starting with the fact that it was held at the Washington Post building and it’s so cool to think that within those walls, a widely respected newspaper is created every day. It was also an opportunity to meet communications professionals from DC’s other museum. As I’m sure you can imagine, a larger percentage of those in attendance were representing the Smithsonian—there are 19 museums within the umbrella of the Smithsonian, after all.
When a representative from the Post opened the program, he said something that really summed up what I love about working at NASM: “Public relations is a lot easier to do when your client is actually doing something interesting.” Yes, it certainly is.
Another thing that struck me and seemed to illuminate one of the greatest challenges I have experienced in the pitching process: when the four reporters on the panel were asked what the best ways to contact them were their answers covered the whole spectrum. One said that it was a good idea to email and then call a few days letter, but not to get excessive. Another said to never call, just email, and don’t annoy him with your communication. And another said contact me again and again using every medium you can—text, phone call, social media, email. And this is the age old problem. Until you develop a relationship with a reporter, you really can’t know the best way to contact them.
The coolest part about the Washington Post Luncheon was the opportunity to hear Philip Kennicott speak about his experience as a journalist. He is the chief art critic at the Washington Post and just won a Pulitzer Prize for Criticism. It was interesting hearing his take on the importance of museums to a city and society as a whole.
And I got a free lunch. So yeah, good day.