Wednesday, 4 November 2015

The First Post

Have you any idea of how difficult it is to get people to get publicity for an exhibition? At the moment I have an exhibition out in Ypres in Belgium. It fills a hall two full tennis courts in size. The response to the exhibition from visitors has been fantastic. And there are quite a lot of visitors - even before the Centenary of the First World War, In Flanders Fields Museum was getting 400,000 visitors a year. Pretty well every pilgrim to the battlefields, whether on an organised tour or with their school or on their own, visits the Museum. But visitors to the Museum don't necessarily have the time or the energy to go to the temporary exhibition as well as the permanent exhibition, and there are people who would get something out of my exhibition who are not First World War pilgrims or there are people who have done their tour to the battlefields and won't necessarily be going again - and how do I reach them?

Unfortunately I wasn't in the position to do much in the way of publicity before the opening - it has been full-on all year with preparations - creating the artwork and putting together the book and making arrangements for the Gathering of the families for the New Group Photograph and the opening of the exhibition. I didn't have any pictures of the exhibition to use in publicity because the exhibits didn't get built until the week before the opening - and there was no point sending out some of the components of the exhibits because it is the scale of the big installations that is original and has the particular impact.

What has happened since the opening? Well, the press in Belgium didn't provide much coverage. There was an article in the local press where the journalist didn't contact me at all but just cobbled something together from the previous version of my Group Photo website (with added inaccuracies) and used my photo from Facebook to illustrate the article. An article in the national press, Het Nieuwsblad, focussed on the taking of the new Group Photograph but made no mention of the exhibition or even of the Museum. And other than listings in What's On guides, that appears to be it. 

Now I am trying to get something happening over on this side of the Channel. As an outsider to the media, it's difficult to get any response at all. I had nibbles from someone at The Guardian and from someone at the BBC but I was obviously using the wrong bait and they weren't hooked. I've had more success with local media. Last night I was interviewed on BBC Radio Norfolk's drivetime show - it's up on iPlayer until 3rd December 2015 - see - my bit is from 01:44:59 for about 10 minutes. I was speaking on Skype so I sound like I'm speaking from inside a metallic box but otherwise I thought Matthew Gudgin introduced me really well and asked just the right sort of questions to enable me to get across the essence of my project.

Today I've had more encouragement, with a contact from a journalist on the Eastern Daily Press who would like to do a feature.

Friends have suggested The One Show and Saturday Live. I've so far had no response, but in my experience it's better to have other people blow your trumpet than to blow your own, so if you'd like to have a go via their contact forms on then that would be fantastic.

Again I learn the lessons of my project: be persistent & never give up, and go with what is working and see where it leads.

1 comment:

  1. Andrew, congratulations on your wonderful achievements , the monumental amount of family history research culminating in the wonderful exhibition at Ypres. Your work has emphasized how important it is for us all to keep family records, your success in collecting together, from sources all around the world, the family stories of nearly 50 WW1 soldiers and their families shows that. Your determination is very impressive, pushing through some very hard times when all you could see were brick walls in your way. You must be very pleased.

    All the best for your future plans
    The WW1 soldiers - Lest We Forget
    JAMES HORN (1st cousin once removed from GORDON FRASER MARSH - see Group Photo)