AIC’s 40th Annual Meeting – Outreach Session, May 10, 2012, Communicating Conservation with Nancie Ravenel, Rosa Lowinger, Heidi Sobol, Melissa Tedone, and Beth Doyle

This outreach session brought together conservators from different parts of the profession to discuss how they have communicated conservation through social media, especially blogging.

Nancie Ravenel introduced the session, she has been running a very successful Flickr site to promote conservation at Shelburne Museum. Nancie presented for Rosa Lowinger.  Rosa Lowinger’s paper focused on a television interview that she gave after the 1994 Northridge earthquake.  Rosa had prepared for the interview and cleaned her lab, set up a few art pieces she wanted to talk about, and felt that the interview went well.  6 months later she saw the interview and she was shocked at how she appeared, while she felt she was slightly irreverent during the interview, she thought she came across as incompetent.  This experience taught her a few lessons about working with the press that she shared:

1.  Everything you say is on the record, do not share anything you do not want quoted.

2. If you know you are going to be interviewed, prepare.  Prepare some anecdotes you want to present.

3. Don’t do your thinking out loud, take your time before you answer something tricky, as you can be quoted on anything you say.

4. Make sure your space is ready to be recorded as well, clean your space, remove any confidential information out of sight.

Rosa also blogs for for the column ‘Ask the Art Nurse‘ and she had a few pointers for bloggers.

– All the rules of journalism apply to blogs, you should check the Electronic Frontier Foundation for more information about your rights.

– Consider your audience and format accordingly, people want to see pictures and not read text (something I am not following in this post, sorry!)

– Be generous with links and link to other sites, they will in turn link to you, ask to use images, you can register with MoMAPress as a blogger to gain permission to use images.

– For music check or

– For video there is

– You should have a clear point of view, be pithy and informative and not self-important, blogs are not digital versions of our academic position papers, but they are living with pictures, videos, and they are interactive.

The next presentation was from Heidi Sobol and Mark Farmer at the Royal Ontario Museum.  Heidi presented about 2 case studies from the ROM.  The first case study was from ‘Restoring the Palampore‘ which was a video blog on the ROM website and Youtube.  This covered a major treatment and highlighted the opening of a new gallery.

366 unique page views
time spent ~ 4 minutes
86% bounce rate (high)
77.4% exit rate (high)

The second case study was a series of blog posts titled ‘On the mend‘ that followed the treatment of a portrait of a Chinese official.  These posts were text with images, encouraging the visitor to check back to see new posts while the treatment progressed.

On the mend
241 unique page views
time spent – 57 seconds

Overall, visitors to the Palampore site spent longer (probably to watch an entire video) but did not read much else on the ROM blog.  Visitors to the On the mend posts were 2x as likely to read other posts, showing an increase in ‘stickiness’ for these posts.

She emphasized that the most popular posts are ‘behind the scenes’ and conservators should take a popular event or topic and then embed scholarly facts to really capture an audience.

The final presentation came from Melissa Tedone and Beth Doyle, about a collaborative project between Iowa State University Library and Duke University library where they work, respectively. Each library uses different social media, Duke has Youtube and Pinterest while both libraries use Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, and WordPress. The collaboration meant the libraries chose a topic that interested them and wrote a post, then posted on the same day and linked to each other.  Blog posts covered a variety of topics and included a ‘Quick Pic’ series, when a post would only contain an image.

There were many questions about a social media policy and Richard McCoy said the IMA has posted online about the creation of a social media policy and encouraged conservators to review the policy information.