The U.S. Presidential Library system began in 1939 and was developed to create living archives chronicling each president’s years in office. The newest is the George W. Bush Presidential Center, home to both the George W. Bush Presidential Museum and Library, which is operated by the National Archives and Records Administration, and the George W. Bush Institute, a 501(c)3 public-policy hub. The Bush Center, based in Dallas, Texas, was dedicated on April 25, 2013.
Thousands of dignitaries gathered to celebrate the event, but there were five individuals in attendance who generated most of the buzz before, during and after the dedication.
Those individuals are the five living U.S. Presidents—Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama and members of the world’s most exclusive club.
Proof Integrated Communications and its sibling PR agency, Burson-Marsteller, were tasked with promoting the event. Burson-Marsteller spearheaded a six-month media campaign to spread the word while Proof was on the hook to develop and maintain a parallel social media campaign. But the social media campaign had to be about more than just promoting the dedication; it had to serve as an engagement platform and live portal to the event itself.
A SOCIAL LAUNCH
With just a few weeks to the dedication, the PR campaign was in a bit of a bind. Social media was not initially factored into the lead up marketing strategy. So to increase visibility and buzz, Proof and the Bush Presidential Center decided to leverage Facebook, Twitter and Storify.
“One of the major challenges was timing,” said Jen Bassik, account director at Proof. “Everything was moving quickly, and it wasn’t until late March that we decided to use social to promote the event. We didn’t have a lot of content so that is how we came up with the idea to stream it live.”
The Facebook account was already active, so the job was to integrate a live-stream app into an existing channel that already had an established audience.
And with that, Proof and the Bush Presidential Center drafted their objectives.
• Increase visibility through social media and boost media impressions. After all, this event was more than a library dedication, it was a rare gathering of five living U.S. presidents.
• Create an multimedia central hub that enables users to learn about the presidential center, engage in conversation and provide live access to the event, and an archived version.
• Break down boundaries in age, gender, religious or political affiliation and create a portal where anyone who “likes” the Facebook page can access the content.
The Bush Center launched its Facebook page in January 2013, following the creation of the Bush Institute. The primary challenge wasn’t about building up a following, but ensuring that the app was fit and functional and could meet the needs of a diverse audience.
“The information had to be very carefully vetted,” Bassik said. “The Bush Center had final approval, so we had to wait for the green light on everything. From a planning standpoint, that required a lot of flexibility. Everyone on our team had to be nimble.”
To build the app, Proof worked with Brightcove, an online video-hosting platform that builds out embeddable video apps. The PR team also used existing rich media content to create a robust app, called “Dedication 2013,” that offered fans more than just a streaming portal.
The app includes:
• A discrete channel to view the event live and anytime after the event—provided the user “likes” the Facebook page.
• A content hub with video clips and image slideshows. Rich media is engaging, spreadable and sticky, thus these content features can help visibility.
• An interactive Presidential quiz. A quiz is a fun way to engage users (and is “spreadable” content).
To further increase visibility and to optimally repurpose the content, Proof also curated all of the content into one story page on Storify.com.
Still, there were questions about whether the app would work. “Because the event was live we couldn’t do any testing. We had to rely on[Brightcove’s] expertise,” Bassik said. “That was a struggle because we were at the mercy of technology.”
Despite the time crunch and lack of testing, the app was seamlessly integrated into Facebook. On April 25, the live-stream was broadcast in flawless HD.
The event itself went off without a hitch; for Proof, the success was measured through social media metrics.
• The Facebook page gained 16,000 new likes as a result of the campaign.
• The Brightcove live stream of the Dedication Ceremony was loaded nearly 145,000 times by users in 106 countries. About 400 unique users watched the hour-long dedication within the Facebook app.
• The Bush Center Twitter account gained an additional 6,000 new followers and more than 6,100 mentions.
• The branded hashtag #BushCenter was used more than 26,500 times.
Bassik and her team are happy with the results. “Those kinds of metrics were great for us. 400 views for the streaming video didn’t seem like the right number, but when we did a comparative analysis, it was,” she said, adding, “We didn’t have a targeted goal.”
Feedback was another metric for success. Viewers who tuned into the video were pleased with the app, and commented accordingly.
“Thank you for the live coverage. I still have it on to listen to the band playing. It was a beautiful ceremony—made me very thankful to be an American,” one viewer commented.
Comments like that are intangible measures of success, of course, but help to validate the efforts of Proof Integrated Communications, Brightcove and The Bush Presidential Center.
With only weeks to plan, Proof conceptualized, developed and launched a product. The product not only delivered on its outlined objectives, but it also netted some important unexpected-yet welcome-results. And as it turns out, it was a fitting solution to an rare presidential event. PRN
Jen Bassik, jen.bassik@proofIC.com; Rachel Tatro, firstname.lastname@example.org.
On The Road to Compelling Content
Content is something every brand is now looking to leverage on its homepage and across social channels. Whether it’s a news story, slideshow or video, content can engage your stakeholders and keep your brand top of mind.
Many brands, of course, have become de facto media companies. And while that may offer several benefits, it also poses several challenges. Jen Bassik, account executive at Proof Integrated Communications, has three tips to help maximize content and minimize some of the challenges for spreading your message.
1. Create quality content. As the owner of your brand, be sure to provide your audience with the highest quality content available anywhere online. This means that your page should offer premium photography, videos and interactive experiences. Your fans look to your pages as the destination for high quality content, so don’t fail them.
2. Create access. Show your audience something unique and different about your brand. Give readers access to a world that only your brand can provide.
3. Create an archive. It’s important to keep your content available beyond the event date itself. Your fans will undoubtedly return to your page, so create an archive for them to replay and revisit the content that you have provided in the past. By keeping your content fresh and current, fans will engage more when they can experience the full history of your content library.
This article appeared in the October 28 issue of PR News. Subscribe to PR News today to receive weekly comprehensive coverage of the most fundamental PR topics from visual storytelling to crisis management to media training.