In the PR biz, there is what is known as “earned” media — the kind where you work the phones and email in order to interest a reporter into covering your story. And then there is paid media, which, of course, are generally in the form of advertisements. Every once in a while, however, the two collide, in which the ads themselves become newsworthy, a combination that is the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup of marketing.
Such was the felicitous case yesterday for the Library of Congress on the front page of the Metro section of The Washington Post.
In support of our new Library of Congress Experience, opening April 12, we purchased a number of ads (all with private funds), with a heavy emphasis on the Metro system. We know that once people are in DC and they learn about what we’re all about, they are much more prone to visit.
The Post did a larger story about Metro’s new, “less staid” advertising approaches, giving our paid campaign a tremendous “earned” boost in the process. The story is here, and the print version featured not one, not two, but three gorgeous photos of Library ads.
The campaign concept is fairly simple: We use images of four historical figures (Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Jackie Robinson and Marilyn Monroe), except that the images are composed entirely from fingerprints. The ad copy talks about how those individuals and many more across history and culture are represented in our collections — in the case of the more modern-day celebrities, perhaps in ways people weren’t aware of.
And then to emphasize the new interactive way in which our collections and exhibitions are being brought to life, we use the phrase “At Your Fingertips,” preceded by a word linked to each person: “Imagination” for Jefferson, “Integrity” for Lincoln,” “Courage” for Robinson and “Fame” for Monroe. The ad copy ends with the tagline: “Explore. Discover. Be inspired.”
On a related matter, the sneak preview video that I posted late on Friday is now almost laughably dated. I shot it a week ago today, and I was just in the Jefferson Building this morning. The progress even in the last seven days is dazzling. If I didn’t have “real” work to do, I’d probably go over and spend a few captivating hours of my day.
Hopefully all of the Library fans out there will consider doing just that, on or after April 12.