How 1 museum took its content online to stay current through COVID
Suzanne de Lange heads up Press & Communication at DIVA, Antwerp's premier museum of diamonds, jewelry and silver. Since it opened its doors in 2018, DIVA has been the prime source of history for the region's historic diamond trade, a local source of pride and the center of its economy for centuries.
And then, pandemic hit.
As public places were forced to shut their doors in the wake of lockdown announcements, the museum had to find a new way to cater for its audience and stop people from missing out. They had to go virtual.
Here's how Suzanne used Prezly to spread DIVA's news during lockdown and grow the museum's online following.
Status: It's complicated
DIVA is the Museum for Diamonds, Jewellery and Silver in Antwerp, Belgium. Encapsulating Antwerp’s former silver and diamond museums, DIVA serves as an introduction to the city's fascinating history of silversmithing and to the craftsmanship, trade and consumption of luxury products in this diamond center of the world.
It's collection is truly stunning, serving the public as well as jewelers and silversmiths worldwide, who swarm to examine its brilliant collection. Or at least they did – before COVID struck.
Going virtual, thinking internationally & planning ahead
The big draw of museums and galleries is experiencing history and seeing precious items in the proverbial flesh. So how did Suzanne manage to keep visitors flowing to DIVA when they couldn't leave their homes?
"We communicated mainly via our social media accounts, Facebook and Instagram. We did a virtual tour in our museum for our temporary exhibition.
"It really has been a change. Now we have to not only provide an exhibition at our location, but also think, 'Okay, what if we have to close – how many followers have we gained online during the last period? How can we attach them to the museum and send them news, invite them to visit the museum virtually in future?' So, that's basically what we did."
DIVA's newsroom features extensive media galleries showcasing their latest collections
Virtual tours and exhibitions have really taken off as the world's locked down, and while televised content can never truly replace the real thing, there's a lot to be said for making these rich centers of culture and history accessible digitally even beyond the pandemic.
"There are always people who are interested in your museum, but they don't have the money or time to physically visit. We wanted to share our story internationally," says Suzanne. "It's a step we need to take to make it possible for everyone to learn about diamonds, jewelry and silverware."
There are always people who are interested in your museum, but they don't have the money or time to physically visit. We wanted to share our story internationally.
During sensitive global events like the pandemic, it can be hard to gauge the tone and know when to share news, and when to hold your tongue. Fortunately, Suzanne knows exactly what she's doing – and she got it pitch perfect.
"We sent 2 press releases. The first was about gloves we gave to a hospital in Antwerp, because of course we couldn't work in the museum and we had this stack of 2,000 gloves, so we gave them to the hospital. It was a positive message, which journalists happily picked up and publicized in their newspapers.
"A few weeks after, we publicized an article about a golden locket ring, which had nothing to do with COVID-19, but it was during a moment when everyone was a bit fed up with all the COVID-19 articles. It was a positive message we could send to the public and have a few journalists cover the story. Prezly was very useful in this regard, because personally I just find it a very handy tool to have to publicize an article that looks great with the pictures and the videos et cetera."
What drew you to Prezly?
"I started working for DIVA at the beginning of 2018. We had our own press release page on our website, but it was very hard to add all the articles, to translate them – it wasn't very flexible.
"So I asked around which other possibilities there were for sending our press releases, to help journalists with a website where they can easily download their pictures etc, and that's how we found Prezly. Since then I can say my life is easier because it's a very user-friendly system."
We're thrilled to hear that. Having assets available to your contacts precisely when they need them is so, so important when your subject matter is as visual as DIVA's. We heard the same thing in another recent case study where we interviewed Nicole Yeardley from interior design brand Wallsauce: “When you've got such a visual product, your emails have got to look good.”
Even if you don't know much about computer systems, CMS, it's a very handy system to use.
"Before I used Prezly, I was just writing my own press releases and sending it to a list. But it's very hard to maintain the contact list that way. You have to get them in your Outlook and you have to be sure you're not sending to too many people because otherwise they don't receive it, you cannot see if they opened it and etc. So it helps a lot with Prezly, because you really can see how many people opened your press release, who did not open your press release, what they did with it, and so you can do a follow-up."
Earlier in 2020 we ran a global survey into contact management and were astounded to find that those who use email to manage their contact lists can on average save 1.2 hours weekly by switching to a purpose-built PR CRM (yup, like Prezly 😁). Think that's impressive? People still using offline methods, such as paper address books and rolodexes, can save a whopping 12.4 hours each week – more than an entire working day! Outrageous.
Suzanne makes all her media assets available for easy download in DIVA's newsroom, complete with photo captions
(By the way, if you want some tips on managing your contact lists, have a watch of this PR Roundtable, where PR heroes Manon Gerlo from oona and Paulo Senra from Overactive Media share all their hottest tips.)
But, let's return to Suzanne, because helping organize your contact lists isn't the only place we get to shine.
"It also helps when, for example, I have interns," says Suzanne. "I just give them the password and they can add contacts, they can add new stories etc. Even if you don't know much about computer systems, CMS, it's a very handy system to use."
One of the things we always try to ask in these interviews is, can you quantify the difference Prezly has made to your PR? It's in all the how-to-write-a-case-study guides – lead with a mind-blowing statistic that shows how you can quadruple your revenue just by switching to a new product. Boom, guaranteed success.
Unfortunately, PR is a fickle beast and as it turns out, matching a number to an outcome is rarely that simple.
"It's very hard to say, because I don't have any figures from before," explains Suzanne. "It was just email or Outlook which we used, so with those you can never tell."
Which, of course, is part of the problem. If you can't see how your contacts interact with your campaign when you send it out, then you don't have the information you need to follow up well. You're basically shooting in the dark.
I have also noticed that journalists know that if a campaign is sent out by Prezly, they can easily download the pictures, the press release is user-friendly and so on. They know it's a good, handy system.
But even without flashy numbers, Suzanne shared some really heartening feedback on her experience of using Prezly.
"What I've found very useful is that you can see who clicked on your press release, so you can always say, 'Hey, if you've read my press release, what do you think about it? Can we make an article?'
"I have also noticed that journalists know that if a campaign is sent out by Prezly, they can easily download the pictures, the press release is user-friendly and so on. They know it's a good, handy system."
We got you 💪
Suzanne has shared a lot of kind words about us in this interview, leaving us with a warm, fuzzy feeling in our tummies. At the same time, we're very aware that it's easy to like a service when everything is smooth sailing. The real proof lies in what happens when things don't go according to plan.
"When you are adding a press release, normally you are in a bit of a hurry. You've worked to the deadline, your press release is ready and now you want to send it, so then when something goes wrong you have to have it fixed within the hour," says Suzanne.
"What I must say is that your chat function is very nice to have, because when I do have any problems, always within 30 minutes someone will have answered my question."
Most people don't realize this, but every member of the Prezly team is responsible for providing support to clients 1 day a week, no matter if you're part of the Customer Success team, a developer or even the CEO. It helps us put ourselves in your shoes to figure out how else we can improve Prezly to make it work better for you! And it's a great excuse for all of us to speak with you in person, because it turns out Prezly clients are lovely people 🤩(yes, even you, David!)
Thank you so much, Suzanne, for taking the time to speak with us and sharing how DIVA has handled PR over this past year, even under these immensely difficult circumstances! I know I speak for everyone at Prezly when I say we're proud to have helped in some small way.