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Marketing and Public Relations in the Art World

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Interning for the Gibbes Museum of Art this summer has been the experience of a lifetime. Not only did an incredible museum and staff surround me, but also I was able to confidently declare Public Relations as my dream occupation. I was fortunate enough to work for Amy Mercer, the Marketing and Communications Manager at the Gibbes, in assisting her during this exciting time of change for the museum. Mrs. Mercer informed me early on that this summer would be a different internship experience than those from the past, due to the upcoming 16-month renovation. However, this period of transition was the perfect time for me to learn more about marketing and public relations in the real world.

Rose Cochran
Marketing Intern Rose Cochran with her favorite painting by John Westmark, The Catch

My initial tasks included updating Facebook posts, taking pictures for Instagram, and creating a Vine account for the museum. Shortly after I was organizing press releases, promoting events, and attending branding workshops, all of which were fantastic learning opportunities. Because the Gibbes Museum is a non-profit organization, support from the community is a necessity. I watched Mrs. Mercer work endlessly and passionately to promote the museum in a positive way during this exciting time. My eyes were opened to the influence that each word has in an organization’s mission statement. These messages are chosen carefully in order to fully exemplify the organization’s goal. I was lucky enough to observe this process during a crucial time and assist the staff in researching a branding strategy for the Gibbes Museum.

During this internship I also learned that event planning is a critical component of public relations. The two departments work together in order to involve the community and benefit the museum. The programs and events that the Gibbes offers are all unique, educational, and fun. These events are constantly celebrating local talent and inviting the public to join in. With each program, the Gibbes creates a stimulating event that always affects the community in a positive and uplifting way.

Art of Healing with John Westmark
Art of Healing discussion with John Westmark

One of my favorite programs currently offered by the Gibbes is the Art of Healing, sponsored by Roper St. Frances Healthcare. This program is paving the way for people to understand the influence that art can have during a healing process. The Gibbes has created a lending collection of 22 paintings, currently being used at the Roper Rehabilitation Hospital. Local artists have donated these works for hospitalized patients to hang in their rooms during their stay. The hope is that these paintings will provide relief to the distressed and facilitate their recovery process. The Gibbes also offers panel discussions with local doctors to speak about current exhibitions, and how art can benefit us in our daily lives. My exposure to the Art of Healing began with an informative and inspiring panel discussion with artist John Westmark. Psychiatrist Linda Austin and Dr. Jeb Hallet discussed the art of healing in relation to Westmark’s exhibit Narratives earlier this summer. Not only is the Gibbes  providing the city of Charleston with a beautiful museum full of wonderful history, they are also providing an outlet of relief through art.

The Gibbes Museum of Art will continue to grow, inspire and change lives. The upcoming renovation will provide the public with a creative learning center while remaining an establishment that cherishes the community and Charleston’s history. I feel incredibly proud and accomplished to have interned for such a remarkable organization and I wish the museum all the best in the years to come.

Rose Cochran, Rising Sophmore at Sewanee, Marketing Intern, and Guest Blogger

Published September 5, 2014

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