30 November 2018

MUSEFLASH: RISK TAKING AND DIGITAL STRATEGIES WRITING WORKSHOP

Weekend Edition | Samantha Kilpatrick


In our first ever Musings Writing Workshop, we were joined by Sarah Hill of Lord Cultural Resources to talk about new spaces for museum writing and content delivery in the digital era. "Soon," she notes, "we're not going to be talking about museums that are using digital content and museums that aren't. We're just going to be talking about museums."

Sarah Hill discussing digital projects in museums across the country. Photo courtesy of Amy Intrator.

Writing for a museum's social media accounts is a chance to help a museum develop its voice just as much as internal content like text panels and labels. To stand out in a digital landscape saturated by content requires risk. The Museum of English Rural Life (MERL), for example, has developed a distinct, irreverent and extremely recognizable online voice.


Image via the MERL's twitter. The MERL has 75.5 thousand twitter followers.

However, one can imagine how arguing for the twitter voice of the MERL to be witty and light on its feet enough to respond to the meme of the day would have been a risk.

In a digital age, every interaction the visitor has with the museum matters. Interactions on the website, on Twitter, on Instagram, through their app, in person, all affect visitor perceptions of the museum. Omnichannel communication requires that every touch-point is in the spirit of your museum, and that, more than anything else, is what digital content requires-- a unified voice across every medium.

Image via the Musing's Instagram. Sarah Hill, running the show.

In the museum industry, we often speak of meeting the visitor 'where they are'. Is where they are now online? Should we assume that every museum visitor is equally interconnected? Of course not, but it's certainly worth remembering that writing content for digital requires flexing different muscles than writing static panel text. Neither is better or worse. We are just meeting the audience in different places. Online, people skim and can tab away from your content at any moment, whereas in person, visitors are spending significant time in your space, but perhaps not stopping at any of your panels. This is a challenge. It's always been a challenge and will continue to be a challenge in perpetuity. These complications make our field more rich and interesting, not less.

Our writing experience is richer for having had her. Thank you again, Sarah Hill.

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