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Public Affairs

National, regional and city media coverage of the Museum's activities and exhibitions increased, building national ownership of and visitation to the Museum. The Museum's strategy was built around the growing number of exhibitions staged beyond Canberra namely To Mars and Beyond, I am Woman, Hear Me Draw and Rare Trades in Melbourne, Cartoons 2002 in Perth and Stories from Australia in China and the Museum's activities of interest to media beyond the national capital.

An independent survey of media coverage between October 2001 and September 2002 was commissioned from Media Measures Pty Ltd. An overview from Media Measures Director, Ed Grossman, reported that this developing strategy produced strong results:

In all, 1,540 media reports or stories covering the NMA were featured in Australian and international media. Using the number of stories as a measure, the Museum actually gained more media coverage than in the previous year. The NMA generated an average of more than four stories each day. Some days the media featured stories on three or four different events and issues, all running simultaneously. Notable was the markedly increased coverage this year of the Museum's temporary exhibitions and activities. Exhibitions like To Mars and Beyond and Hickory Dickory Dock and activities like the Tracking Kultja festival stand out in terms of the positive media attention they generated. There also was, as detailed in this report, a dramatic increase in the amount of regional press coverage, with news reports in a large number of different publications covering all parts of Australia. This demonstrates an enhanced and highly effective national media strategy. The Museum's architecture continued to gain recognition, especially for its architectural awards, and it has continued to be featured in respected architectural publications.

In all, over 93 per cent of the media coverage gained by the Museum was judged as being favourable, a marked increase from last year's figure of 83 per cent. The level of unfavourable coverage has dropped from eight per cent to just two per cent. Whether favourable or not, the Museum has continued to use its media coverage as a means to arouse public interest, discussion and debate on contemporary issues. In this regard, its media coverage has had a significantly positive impact and has successfully promoted the Museum as an innovative energetic institution for all Australians.

Backpackers join Director of Public Affairs Martin Portus to launch Aussie English for Beginners Book Two
Backpackers join Director of Public Affairs Martin Portus to launch Aussie English for Beginners Book Two
Photo: George Serras

The wider spread of national publicity was built through significant newsworthy Museum book launches, public programs, debates and activities, most of them after the period covered in the above media report. The handover of Aboriginal remains from the Museum drew wide national and international media interest. The launches of the publications, Aussie English for Beginners Book Two, Frontier Conflict: The Australian Experience and the Our Voices series for Australian primary schools, were all similarly newsworthy. So too were the Museum's multimedia festival, Sky Lounge, and the national request for memorabilia from young Australians visiting Gallipoli.

Media collaborations continued to be built with all branches of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and other media to broadcast and host debates. Museum forums also contributed to lively media debate on the subject of cultural heritage within Australia, Iraq and other countries. Partnerships were strengthened with communities and institutions keen to stage events in and dovetail their profile with the National Museum. Significant examples included the Science Festival, Children's Book Week and National Dementia Awareness Week. Ongoing collaboration with foreign missions, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and tourism bodies remain vital to the strategy of building on the strong international profile gained by the Museum when it opened. These partnerships especially with the Guangzhou Consulate were significant in the north Asian promotion of Stories from Australia, when the exhibition opened there in December 2002.

Separate promotional strategies were also applied to the Canberra openings of the exhibitions Paipa, Hickory Dickory Dock, Leunig Animated and Cartoons 2002, Rare Trades and the changeover of half the stories in Eternity, some involving promotional partnerships with regional media in New South Wales and Victoria. The Rare Trades opening in June produced strong media in and beyond Canberra, despite the successful profile gained in the Victorian media in February when the exhibition first opened at Melbourne's Scienceworks.

Collaboration between Public Affairs and Public Programs created a schedule of lively debates and events around each exhibition. This was vital for maintaining media interest in and visitor numbers to these exhibitions, especially in the last months of To Mars and Beyond in Canberra. The Museum also gained a powerful profile in the Canberra community by organising forums on topical subjects such as the impact and response to the drought and the bushfires, forums fronted by local media personalities and broadcast from the Museum's Studio.

An internal review of the Museum's external communication strategy was initiated to better define its key audience targets and stakeholders, and to better coordinate the means by which the Museum communicates its diverse activities.

Marketing the Museum

Sydney buses carry the message of the Museum
Sydney buses carry the message of the Museum
Photo: Dean Golja

Brand awareness

After two years of operation, an important priority for the Museum has been an evaluation of the awareness of the Museum in the local, regional and metropolitan markets. National research revealed that there was limited recognition of the Museum outside Canberra, and most people beyond the capital had traditional perceptions about the Museum. Following analysis of this research, strategies were developed this year to raise the profile and understanding of the Museum and these will be implemented next year with concurrent evaluation to determine their effectiveness.

In April 2003 the National Museum launched a significant partnership with a public company, APN News and Media Ltd, to deliver the first stage of a brand awareness campaign on outdoor billboards and Buspak. The campaign's strategy focused initially on the metropolitan markets of Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra and the campaign will be evaluated on a regular basis to ensure its effectiveness.

Marketing campaigns

Successful campaigns were undertaken for Cartoons 2002: Life, Love and Politics (TV commercial) and Leunig Animated (TV commercial), Sky Lounge (TV commercial) and Rare Trades (TV commercial).

Market research indicated a very high awareness of the Cartoons 2002 and Leunig Animated campaign with 92 per cent of those who attended the exhibition aware of the marketing campaign before they attended. Of those who visited the Museum but did not attend the exhibition, around 41 percent were aware of the exhibition before they arrived at the Museum. Those who visited Cartoons 2002 and Leunig Animated were more likely to be repeat visitors to the Museum (61 per cent) compared to 29 per cent of visitors who did not visit these exhibitions.

Sky Lounge was a major success, achieving the aim of attracting young people who traditionally do not visit museums. It was fully booked, attracting new audiences, in particular the target audience of the youth market aged 18-30.

Other marketing activities included:

  • implementation of the Shop marketing strategy which was developed last year to position the Museum Shop as an essential part of any visit to the Museum, and to encourage destination shoppers

  • separate marketing campaigns for schools programs, Museum tours and school holiday programs

  • development of tour packages for inbound tour operators and international markets.

The Museum continued to strengthen its collaborative relationships with tourism industry associations such as the Tourism Task Force, the Canberra Convention Bureau, the Australian Tourist Commission and the Canberra Tourism and Events Corporation.

The Museum in print

As part of the Museum's objective to promote awareness and understanding of Australia's cultures, histories and environments, publishing priorities were focused on the production of books, catalogues and text and graphic panels for exhibitions and the development of a range of paper-based merchandise for sale through the Museum Shop.

Publications included:

Stories from Australia
  • Stories from Australia: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples by Carol Cooper and Amanda Reynolds, released in December 2002. This bilingual publication, in English and Mandarin, accompanied the Museum's major exhibition to Guangzhou, China
Cartoons 2002: Life, Love and Politics
  • Cartoons 2002: Life, Love and Politics edited by Guy Hansen , released in December 2002 . The successor of the popular Bringing the House Down catalogues, Cartoons 2002 drew from the exhibition of the same name to present the best of Australian political cartooning for 2002. The publication has sold steadily since its release
Aussie English for Beginners, Book two
  • Aussie English for Beginners, Book Two, text by the National Dictionary Centre, illustrations by David Pope, released in January 2003. This humorous look at the Australian vernacular, based on a popular exhibition in the Nation gallery, continued the success of the first volume. The first book sold out within a year of release and has now been reprinted. The second book received widespread media attention on release and has enjoyed strong ongoing sales
Frontier Conflict: The Australian Experience
  • Frontier Conflict: The Australian Experience edited by Bain Attwood and Stephen Foster, released in February 2003. This book examines different views on the extent of Indigenous and European conflict in colonial Australia and is based on a conference held at the Museum in December 2001. The book's release attracted substantial national publicity and academic attention. It sold out within six months and has now been reprinted
  • children's activity and colouring books based on the Museum's collections were part of a major production program of paper-based merchandise for sale in the Museum Shop. Other products included postcards, gift cards, bookmarks, wrapping paper, children's showbags and gift bags

  • the reprint of I am Woman, Hear Me Draw: Cartoons from the Pen of Judy Horacek due to high sales.

New publications in development for publication in 2003-2004 include:

  • It's Alive! an anthology of stories for 8-13 year olds based on the Museum's collections and themes

  • National Museum of Australia Collection Series a collectable suite of books on significant items in the Museum's collections such as the PS Enterprise

  • ABC an alphabetical journey through the Museum's collections for preschool children by Susan Hall. This publication is being developed with assistance from early childhood educators

  • Outlawed! Bushrangers, Rebels and Revolutionaries this catalogue, edited by Associate Professor Graham Seal, will accompany the Outlawed! exhibition opening at the Museum in November 2003

  • 23° South: The Archaeology and Environmental History of the Southern Deserts a book to accompany the forthcoming exhibition in 2004, comprising a selection of papers presented at the conference of the same name, held in January 2002.

Specific focus was given this year to the promotion of the Museum's publishing program. This included the engagement of national book trade distributor, Bookwise International Pty Ltd, to represent its publications to the bookselling industry and this has already proved successful, with more than half of the Frontier Conflict print run sold in bookshops throughout Australia.

The Museum also exhibited at the annual Australian Book Fair at Darling Harbour, Sydney which attracts booksellers, librarians, teachers and publishing industry professionals throughout the country. The Museum's exhibit promoted its books and catalogues, as well as major educational titles authored by the Museum and published by commercial publishers.

Library resources

The library continued to provide information services and access to its general and special collections for both staff and the public. Staff also provided valuable research assistance to support the the development of major temporary exhibitions as well as strategic projects. Access was provided to researchers, both from Australia and overseas, wishing to use the Library's resources.

The Library continued to develop its general collection through a modest acquisitions program of monographs and serials, with increasing emphasis given to the electronic delivery of documents and other resources.

The scientist and museologist, Dr WDL Ride, continued his generous donation of materials through the Commonwealth Government's Cultural Gifts Program.

Image Delivery and Intellectual Property

Strong, dynamic images are essential for the Museum to use in its exhibitions, publications, website, marketing and public affairs material. Throughout the year more than 1200 internal requests for sourcing, delivering and licensing images, and copyright clearances were processed. The year also saw a growing number of external requests and licences for the use of images owned by the Museum.

Images and appropriate copyright clearances were made for a number of major Museum exhibitions and publications including Outlawed!, Rare Trades, Aussie English, Our Voices, Frontier Conflict, educational newspaper supplements and a variety of paper-based products.

A major achievement was the compilation of an intellectual property manual for use by Museum staff to be published in early 2003-2004. This provides both a comprehensive outline of the legal requirements for the protection of intellectual property rights and a practical guide on their interpretation and application in a museum environment. The manual will be available to other cultural agencies on request and provides a 'best practice' model for cultural institutions to follow in the development and revision of their intellectual property management frameworks. Complementing the manual has been the compilation of fact sheets on a range of intellectual property issues which are also available to Museum staff through the Intranet. In 2003-2004 a series of workshops will be presented for staff on intellectual property.

The Museum has continued to coordinate an intellectual property, education and networking group across national cultural institutions in the Australian Capital Territory. Copyright in Cultural Institutions was initiated in 2001-2002. A major focus this year for the group has been training in the provisions of the Privacy Act 1988.

A major review was completed of the Museum's proforma goods and services contracts, such as deeds of gift, licences, museum theatre performance contracts, sponsorship agreements, and applications to access and reproduce the Museum's collection for research purposes. The aim of the review was to ensure that the proformas maintain their legal currency and accuracy and these documents will continue to be reviewed periodically. A handbook explaining the requirements, obligations and implications of the clauses of the proforma contracts will also be produced in 2003-2004 as part of this project.

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