Student project benefits heritage sites
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.”
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.