Me, Myself and MRI

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This session was delivered by Project Manager Kirsty Halliday and Rachel Hazelwood, who works with us on PR and Marketing, with input from Lizzie Forbes-Ritte of Purple Marketing.

We started off looking at how to put together a press release, thinking about the four questions you need to ask yourself each time you put one together:

  • who are you writing for?
  • what have you got to say?
  • how are you going to say it?
  • where are you going to send it?
What are you going to say in your press release and who are you writing it for?
We talked about the importance of using the right sort of language and looked at three examples of press text that were each talking about the same artworks by Damien Hirst but all used very different language. One was from a specialist arts publication, one from a national broadsheet newspaper and one from Newsround and it was quite easy for the pupils guess which was which from the sort of language used. For example, the tank used to contain one of the artworks was described in one article as a 'vitrine', in another as a 'glass tank of formaldehyde' and in the final article as a 'big tank full of chemicals'.

We also talked about the importance of making the opening paragraph as interesting and succinct as possible - journalists are very busy and if you don't grab their attention with your first paragraph then they may not read the rest of the press release.

We divided the press release into five main sections:
  • the headline
  • the opening paragraph
  • the mid section (containing quotes and other interesing information)
  • the closing section (containing the 'call to action' i.e. telling people what's happening when and where)
  • the Notes to Editors (this section comes after the main body of the press release and gives additional information on, for example, the project funders and partners)
We talked about some of the audiences we might want to reach with our press releases and the pupils came up with a list of possible media outputs that we could target when we sent out press releases.

Rachel then got the group thinking about the exhibition interpretation and marketing materials, including interpretation signage, postcards and the website.

We all agreed that the signage, as well as reinforcing the branding/logo for the exhibition, should also include information about the areas we've covered throughout the project. We also agreed that these banners should be eye-catching and not too text-heavy and cluttered and that they should use dynamic language and carefully-selected images. The pupils thought that the branding for the exhibition should be fun but with a scientific slant.
What else could you use to publicise your project or event?

We talked about other display materials we could use, with the groups' ideas including a blow-up version of the MRI scanner that visitors would have to walk through to get into the exhibition plus a pod with a touch-screen linked to all of the background information on the project. We discussed the fact that unfortunately these probably wouldn't be possible as we have to stay within a budget and these ideas could both end up costing a lot of money to build.

The group decided that the exhibition postcards/leaflets and the website should combine to carry out the same function as an exhibition brochure. i.e. the postcards/leaflets should be in each of the exhibition venues and will direct people towards the website. The website should contain lots of information about the project.

We talked again about the importance of using the right sort of language and the group agreed that it needed to be fairly formal (i.e. not slang), without being too high-brow and scientific so as not to exclude people from a non-scientific background.

At the top right of this page you can download the following resources:
  • a lesson plan for a session on PR and Marketing
  • a PowerPoint presentation on how to write a press release
  • a pupil handout on how to write a press release
  • an example press release
Next section: Exhibition logo and branding