Media Training Success Story
Writing: Making Your Mark
We have worked with the British Library in-house press team on all their major flagship exhibitions over the last 8 years. The team requested bespoke media training for their Writing: Making Your Mark Exhibition Curators.
The exhibition story unfolded through just over 100 objects from the British Library’s extensive collection, some on display for the very first time, bridging 5,000 years and spanning five continents. Items ranged from carved stone inscriptions and medieval manuscripts to early printing, modern handwriting and digital inputting systems.
With culture being driven by the experience economy with audiences looking for unusual experiences that they can talk about with friends and share on social media, the British Library is now competing with a wide range of leisure activities.
So it was important that their media spokespeople conveyed the exhibition in an engaging, interactive and fun exploration of the past, present and future of writing. They should communicate a sense of the ‘extraordinary in the ordinary’ in all the regional, national and international media coverage planned and then requested as the project gathered momentum.
This exhibition also had to build on the success of the British Library’s highly popular cultural programmes over the last few years, including Harry Potter: A History of Magic and Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms: Art, Word, War – both had been blockbuster shows and we had also media trained their spokespeople for these shows.
Writing: Making Your Mark was an interactive show, celebrating the act of writing across the globe, displayed into 5 parts: The Origins of Writing, Writing Systems and Styles, Materials and Technology, People and Writing and The Future of Writing.
The first element was preparation, research and development:
We undertook thorough preparation and research. This included meetings with the press team, surveying their spokespeople, reviewing the communications plan, and reading all the relevant materials, including the book to accompany the exhibition.
We then developed a media training programme, which would tap into the key messages about the relevance of writing’s evolution to the present day. We created a sense of curiosity around how symbols and pictographs evolved to become the letters, alphabets, and tools for communication that we use today.
We devised questions covering the key angles, and targeted audiences to help unpack the exhibition through the stories behind the objects. We highlighted the diversity of the collection to attract a broad range of audiences with different interests.
The second part was delivery of the media training to prepare the Curators, who had differing levels of media experience, for Writing: Making Your Mark press and media interviews.
Working in collaboration with the British Library Press Team and Curators, we set up a studio on site. We created an environment that was both realistic and put the spokespeople at ease, so they felt confident to try things out.
We shaped the key messages, bringing to life the stories behind the items exhibited.
We balanced their knowledge with our media expertise, to unpack stories, and so articulate them well.
We prepared the Curators for their interviews for the busy Press launch day and beyond, by making sure their spokespeople felt comfortable and confident on radio and in front of the camera. This then helped them communicate the key messages in a conversational way clearly and effectively.
By testing the key messages through a variety of broadcast interview formats including filming live in the British Library foyer, the messaging evolved throughout the day. We helped create media soundbites, identified news stories, feature ideas and Q&As, based on the interview practice sessions.
We rehearsed more difficult and confrontational interviews, identifying the potential ‘curveball’ or challenging questions they may face, and this also helped finalise the reactive Q&As.
All the interviews were recorded and transferred to both the spokespeople and press team. These were accompanied by a written report with constructive feedback on each person’s performance, to remind them and reinforce the learnings from the media training.
The media coverage was very successful and widespread
The spokespeople were interviewed by key publications including The Guardian, Evening Standard, The Telegraph, The Times, The New York Times, as well as The Lady, Londonist and Time Out.
The exhibition was featured on BBC Radio 4’s Saturday Review and the Curators were also interviewed on several other local and national radio programmes. They appeared on a range of national and international TV channels, including Channel 4’s Sunday Brunch and the Turkish Public Broadcaster, TRT World Showcase programme.
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We have worked with Nadine and her team for the past five years. The media training sessions with senior management team are always engaging, relevant and memorable. Babaco Media is our partner of choice.
The media training was an excellent opportunity to clarify the key messages and to build confidence. My colleagues told me how useful I would find it but I thought I would be too nervous to enjoy it. I now feel much more confident not only about the upcoming media interviews but about public speaking in general. I really enjoyed it and appreciated the style of the training.
I would definitely recommend this media training. It enabled me to feel relaxed, learn how to take control, understand the process better and realise how to get my own message across. The session was very professional and quite intense but handled in a very relaxed manner. Thoroughly enjoyed the experience.