This article discusses the importance of developing and improving the museum marketing in the field of virtual museums and identified basic tools that help museums promote the brand.
Keywords: virtual museums, real museums, marketing, promoting tools.
Frank Jeffkins, a well-known researcher of public relations technologies, notes: «Public relations consists of all forms of systematically implemented communication, external and internal, between the organization and its public in order to achieve between them mutual understanding» .
A virtual museum is often called the site of a real museum. Thus, it is possible to single out two varieties of virtual museums. The first includes sites that reflect in the virtual space of the collection and the exposition of real existing state, municipal and private museums. These are sites created on the basis of museum collections, which have detailed information about the exhibits. The second type includes museums that do not exist in reality, but simulated virtually. Modern man knows little about state, municipal or private museums and their lives. Most often people do not visit museums or do it extremely rarely due to lack of free time. Familiar media as a way of popularization, of course, they work, but they are not enough. We often hear on the radio and TV about new events in museum life, but we have no idea how it looks and what is significant. There is a kind of «barrier» that complicates the dialogue between the museum and its public [2, p. 121]. Life doesn’t stand still and it's time for the museum to go beyond the usual showcases and «dead» exhibits. It is necessary to go «in step with the times».
Practice shows that when creating a virtual museum with the effect of presence, interest in the museum not only does not decrease, but also actively increases. The museum often does not have information about the available expositions and the structure of the museum itself. Such knowledge, he can easily get on the site of the museum, and even more interesting to stroll through the virtual halls of the museum. This aggravates the desire to visit the museum and see everything in reality.
Director of the Vologda Museum-Reserve Alexander Suvorov notes: «Now the visitor, especially the young, having education and a certain range of interests, before going somewhere, wants to know what he will see — arguing by market categories, wants to know what kind of service he is buying. And we must give people this opportunity, explain and show why a person should come to the museum» .
There are following models of virtual museums:
- Educational: The museums of this model are mainly aimed at providing educational opportunities for their visitors. Such resources are most often created for children, however, very interesting for adults. They include various programs and games that contribute to the knowledge of the new.
- Information: at the core such museums is the collection and storage of information about certain subjects or phenomena. Such museums store in themselves a lot of useful information, which is not possible to collect in one place in reality.
- Marketing: these are museums created by commercial organizations in order to attract attention to one's own organization, its brand or brand. Such museums can be created to attract media attention. As well as the creation of an electronic database of its products of past years, and universal access to this information increases the authority firm. It is also important that calling such a site a museum, in the minds of people an idea is formed about the solid age of the organization, which inspires automatically inspires confidence in this firm and its products .
A virtual museum can become a promising means of popularization both for a real museum and for a commercial organization. Of course, virtual museums are very important and effective as a means of PR, but there is another problem: such museums themselves are not well known and advertised. And this a big problem for the Internet space, because information flows huge and not always perceived. Therefore, a closed circle: a virtual museum can be a means of PR, but you need to do this make it popular enough. There are several options:
– Making the opening of such a museum an important, advertised event. In other words, arrange his presentation, attract the media.
– Promote the site through advertising. It is not necessary to use advertising on television or radio. Advertising in social networks will be quite popular.
– Issue booklets, brochures, business cards with information.
– Buy banner impressions on popular resources, in particular this can be social networks.
– Create groups in social networks, and invite people there massively, this will provide an opportunity to inform a significant number of potential visitors [5, p. 157–161].
So, a virtual museum can be a means of PR for real museums, when he reflects their collection, talks about their capabilities and basic elements and thus attracts new visitors. Also a virtual museum can be useful in terms of PR and for commercial organizations in this case it is created as a database for customers is a marketing tool.
The words «rebranding» and «pr» appeared in the museum lexicon. There was an understanding that the museum — not only expositions, funds, excursions, it is a brand. Just create an interesting exhibition is not enough. It must be able to sell.
We identified seven basic tools that help museums promote the brand.
- Give access to hidden information. It is necessary to show the museum from the inside: how it works, how it lives. To give access not only to the exhibition halls, but also to the «museum kitchen».
- Museum blog. Many museum workers still distrust this definition.
- Interactive site and online store. The site is the face of the museum and should attract visitors. It is in the museum's interest to make it bright, interesting and convenient to use. The museum workers strive to make the site work for the museum, not against it. The main tools that are used for this: a virtual visit and an online store. Virtual visit — visiting museum halls online. Suitable to plan a trip to the museum or find in the halls of the subject of interest. And simply makes the museum's site more interactive and lively. When the museum workers realized that it is possible to sell not only tickets, museum Internet shops began to appear. The content of the online store in the presence of the site does not require special knowledge and costs. But if the functionality of the site allows you to buy tickets and souvenirs online, then the benefits of the Internet site is doubling. Virtual tour gives a partial idea of the scale of the museum.
- Mobile applications. Large and not very museums produce personal applications for smartphones. It can be audio guides, virtual tours, navigators, games. With their help you can evaluate the main museum masterpieces, test your knowledge in the field of art, create a painting or buy a ticket to the museum. At the heart of all mobile applications is an idea that can be formulated as a «museum in your pocket». The visitor always has access to museum treasures. You just need to pick up a smartphone. Give access to the museum collection. Allow to be up to date with news and buy tickets online. Some applications are offline, which is a distinct advantage. Entertainment applications involve the youth audience in the museum world.
- Access to knowledge. Conferences and internships for specialists in the museum sector are common. So museum workers are exchanging experience. People want to get new knowledge in different fields. Services that share knowledge for free — profitable partners for museums. They provide an opportunity to get more online and offline visitors, attract additional target audience, increase the presence of the brand on the Internet.
- Communication and encouragement. The museum workers thought about how to make the visitor loyal. And realized that you need to show not only the wealth of the meeting, but also interact with the audience. This is helped by competitions in social networks.
- An integrated approach. The museum workers realized that the good concept of the exhibition is not the key to success .
Virtual museums are becoming popular and are spreading faster in the world. Currently the virtual museum widely is used on the World Wide Web. The theme of virtual museums and their role in the culture is discussed not only among museum experts and art critics, but also in society as a whole, in various forums, conferences and on the Internet, that knowledge about the relevance of this topic .
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