Posted At: February 20, 2012 1:57 PM
by Savannah Bass
Washington, D.C., is home to many museums, catering to a wide variety of interests. Art lovers can go to the National Gallery of Art, those interested in a world beyond ours can go to the Air and Space Museum, and news fanatics can go to the Newseum to get their news history fix.
This past weekend, I went to the Newseum and was blown away by the range of information accounted for, highlighting some of the world’s most historic events. Pieces of the Berlin Wall were on exhibit and thousands of newspapers from 1455 to today—with headlines ranging from “Bill of Rights Approved” to “Hitler Dead”—were encased.
Even a 9/11 memorial, with the actual antenna from the Twin Towers, was accompanied by newspaper covers from all over the world reporting about that fateful day.
With a breadth of information chronicling the lifetime of journalism and modern-day media, there’s just as much information for PR junkies to sink their teeth into as there is for journalists. In addition, PR practitioners can learn from the Newseum about how to use new forms of media and how to better disseminate a message.
With the 9/11 memorial, the Newseum found an interactive and humbling way for visitors to look back on their 9/11 experiences. Guests are encouraged to write a short quote about their feelings on 9/11 on an interactive tablet beside the memorial. Within a matter of minutes, the person’s quote is projected on the wall behind the radio tower in their own handwriting for all to see. Quotes rotate about every 10 seconds to give variety and provide adequate time to soak in a person’s experience.
This particular exhibit gives visitors a way to connect to the Newseum in a way most people probably have not done before. It also helps the Newseum use new technology to its advantage. PR professionals can learn from the Newseum’s state-of-the-art exhibit how to make a devastating event more personable to a wide range of visitors, while separating themselves from their competitors.
Another fascinating exhibit shows the entire world displayed on a grand scale wall in three different colors: green representing free speech, yellow representing partly free speech and red representing no free speech. The exhibit shows most of the world in yellow and an even more striking amount in red. Very little is green except for the United States and sporadic countries in Europe and South America.
In addition, the graphic notes that only one in six people lives in a country with free speech.
Seeing the graphic in person brings the lesson of the display together, but PR practitioners would find this graphic applicable to their careers, especially when dealing with international countries. Boundaries limit people across the world from executing messages the way they want and often limit people altogether.
For example, Italy is only a partially free speech country. Thus, when dealing with a fashion line in Italy, a PR practitioner may need to be extra careful in constructing a message to be used by multiple customer bases across the world.
While these are only two examples of the plethora of extraordinary exhibits on display at the Newseum, the museum helps bring the field of communication full circle. It’s a place where PR practitioners, advertisers and journalists can come together and marvel at the power that communication has. Even average bystanders can look in awe and see just how important our field is to the past, present and future of our world.