Publicity for Botanic Gardens, Arboretums and Horticultural Organizations

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University of Delaware
A well-researched, carefully planned publicity program is the best way for horticultural organizations to inform the public of its services, attractions, and need for support. Publicity is part of the marketing function promotion. It may be defined as the first step in providing an institution's audiences with information about the institution and its activities, and convincing those audiences to act on the information. Publicity costs nothing to place, and has greater credibility than advertising because it is published by impartial sources, the media. However, the media give no guarantee that publicity will be published, nor does the publicist have control over what is published, as he would had he paid for space. Some not-for-profit horticultural organizations have been slow to effectively employ publicity. The representatives of the organizations may not know how to publicize their garden, arboretum or society. They may believe" that publicity is unnecessary, or an undesirable way of calling attention to the garden. Publicity does have a role in botanic gardens and arboretums, however. It is the means by which the public can be informed of aspects of a garden or services which are intangible: relaxation, beauty, education. Gardens are rich in opportunities for publicity as well: spectacular displays, seasonal changes, and educational programs. A survey of publicists from botanic gardens and arboretums in the United States and Canada revealed how often those institutions used publicity, what media were most often used, and who was responsible for publicity. In-depth interviews with thirteen museums, gardens and horticultural societies showed how publicity is currently being practiced, and what some of the characteristics of a successful publicity program are. The last section is a manual for the development of an effective publicity program. First, the staff position of publicist must be considered: what sort of position it should be, the publicist's qualifications and responsibilities. Support for the publicist from the board, management and staff is essential. The publicity program itself must be carefully researched, planned, and implemented. Organization and the use of the right publicity ,tool in the most effective medium at the proper time is especially important. Guidelines for the preparation of the basic tools of publicity are given: news release, feature story, public service announcement, photographs and slides, basic brochure and special events. The value of good media relations is discussed, and recommendations for their establishment are made. Legal concerns for publicists are also covered. Cooperative ventures are valuable means for expanding publicity. The advantages of working with other organizations and the ways in which it may be done are described. An effective publicity program must be evaluated if it is to continue to be effective. Recommendations for ways to evaluate publicity and report the results are made.
Public relations, Publicity, Marketing, Promotion