Stu­dent project ben­e­fits her­itage sites

The Citizen-Record (Cumberland) - - THE CITIZEN - By An­drew Wagstaff

AMHERST - Stu­dents have ben­e­fited from the learn­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties pro­vided by lo­cal her­itage for years, and now it is the many lo­cal her­itage sites ben­e­fit­ing from stu­dents.

The Cum­ber­land County Mu­seum and Archives now has a me­dia train­ing kit de­signed by pub­lic re­la­tions stu­dents at Nova Sco­tia Com­mu­nity Col­lege Water­front Cam­pus, and is shar­ing the kit with other mem­bers of the Cum­ber­land County Her­itage Net­work (CCHN).

“ We all re­al­ize that non-profit or­ga­ni­za­tions such as mu­se­ums rely on the good­will of the me­dia, es­pe­cially the lo­cal me­dia,” said Shirley Nick­er­son, cu­ra­tor of the Cum­ber­land County Mu­seum. “ This has taught us a lot in how to give the me­dia the in­for­ma­tion they re­quire as ef­fi­ciently as pos­si­ble, and we feel that all of the 20 arts, cul­tural and her­itage sites in Cum­ber­land County could use this.”

Nick­er­son trav­eled to Hal­i­fax on Mon­day to ac­cept the kit from stu­dents Cather­ine Rec­tor, Sean Payne, Shan­non Mac­In­tyre, Shel­ley Solmes and Kilby Smith. Rec­tor is a grad­u­ate of River He­bert District High School, and the daugh­ter of mu­seum em­ployee Glenda Janes.

The detailed kits in­clude tips and strate­gies on how to work with the me­dia, re­mind­ing users on ev­ery­thing from plac­ing the date at the top of ev­ery press release, to re­mov­ing eye­glasses when pos­si­ble for pho­to­graphs. It has sec­tions on things such as broad­cast me­dia, print me­dia, and the pro­mo­tion of spe­cial events.

“It just has a lot of lit­tle things to give re­porters the in­for­ma­tion they re­quire as briefly and ef­fi­ciently as pos­si­ble, with all the facts,” she said. “ What we were do­ing be­fore was go­ing too brief, but this al­lowed us to learn what they want.”

Nick­er­son pre­sented the kit on Tues­day to Oralee O’Byrne, pres­i­dent of the CCHN and man­ager of the Age of Sail Her­itage Cen­tre in Wards Brook.

The kits were to be dis­trib­uted to all CCHN mem­bers at its up­com­ing April 10 meet­ing.

“ It will be help­ful from a non-profit point of view in learn­ing to deal with the lo­cal me­dia bet­ter and to as­sist the lo­cal me­dia in as­sist­ing us,” she said. “Es­pe­cially be­cause th­ese groups are made up of vol­un­teers, there’s a lot they don’t think about, or are not taught or told.”

Be­cause the ad­ver­tis­ing bud­get for small mu­se­ums and sites is usu­ally small or non-ex­is­tent, O’Byrne said the sites of­ten de­pend on the lo­cal me­dia to get their word out by cov­er­ing their events. For ex­am­ple, a re­cent ar­ti­cle on the mu­seum’s Fred Ni­cholas exhibit in the Amherst Daily News drew sev­eral calls to the mu­seum on the day it ap­peared.

“Even the ad­ver­tis­ing we can af­ford doesn’t of­ten hit the lo­cal peo­ple,” said O’Byrne. “If you ad­ver­tise in a va­ca­tion book or a vis­i­tor’s guide, those are geared to­ward vis­i­tors. The lo­cal per­son is not go­ing to go into a tourist bureau for those, they are go­ing to look at their lo­cal news­pa­per, and lis­ten to the ra­dio. That’s how we’re go­ing to reach them.”

The me­dia kit has also be­come an ex­am­ple of the CCHN’s mis­sion to work to­gether for the ben­e­fit of all, ac­cord­ing to O’Byrne.

“Our whole goal is to work to­gether and help each other, and this is a re­ally good ex­am­ple of how the Cum­ber­land County Mu­seum has taken what they were for­tu­nate to be able to get done for them, and shar­ing it with the rest of us,” she said. “I think that’s im­por­tant to what we are all about.”

An­drew Wagstaff, con­trib­uted

Cum­ber­land County Mu­seum cu­ra­tor Shirley Nick­er­son (third from left) ac­cepts me­dia kits from NSCC pub­lic re­la­tions stu­dents ( from left) Kilby Smith, Sean Payne, Cather­ine Rec­tor and Shel­ley Solmes, and (right photo) presents the kit to Cum­ber­land County Her­itage Net­work chair­per­son Oralee O’Byrne.

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