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The Art of Brand Communication

Portland Museum of Art Brand Strategy Coordinator, Caitlin Brooke

When you think of a museum, what comes to mind? Do you envision a forward-thinking, branding machine that brings art to life on your phone, through an artist-inspired cocktail, or by offering Free Fridays from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.? That’s the exact image Portland Museum of Art (PMA) Brand Strategy Coordinator, and this week’s Monday Maine Maven, Caitlin Brooke, hopes to conjure when you think of PMA.

After graduating from Cony High School, Caitlin attended the University of New Hampshire where she received  dual undergraduate degrees in art history and communication, and an MBA in marketing. A summer internship with PMA’s PR department was her first taste of the career path she would choose, but not before spending three years in Boston working as an associate for an investment firm.

Brooke says, “I absolutely loved developing my professional identity in Boston and being thrown into the fast-paced and demanding world of corporate finance. My role evolved from investor relations to marketing, and I began to take the reins in redesigning the firm’s marketing materials and communications plan.”

At the PMA’s Winter Bash Brooke’s job was to sit and draw the guests as they enjoyed the evening.

By 2010 Brooke decided to leave Boston and do some soul-searching saying, “I wanted to eventually establish myself in Maine, so I took a break and traveled the country before beginning my search for jobs in Portland.” Why Maine? Her reason is simple stating, “The cultural vitality of the city had always enticed me and it’s the perfect location—access to the water for surfing and the mountains for skiing!”

This vital culture of Portland is the driving force behind the success of Brooke’s work with PMA. She says, “It’s about being in the know; having relationships with every department and PMA staffer so they think to call me when something cool is happening in the galleries, on TV, or across the street; it’s about embracing social media as a part of our roles.”

In 2012, the institution officially began to integrate social media into staffers’ professional roles. With this change came the need to create a social media policy and social media team who create content, take photos, Tweet and post on behalf of the museum covering all facets of the institution, and giving dynamic perspectives of what is happening on the PMA campus.

Stop by the PMA Café for an artist inspired cocktail created byAurora Provisions.

This new branding initiative plays a major role in Brooke’s daily routine. She starts her day by scrolling through social media feeds and emailing herself potentially relevant content. She adds, “I need to scope the scene and see what people are talking about. A big part of my job is connecting PMA’s exhibitions, programs and collections to what’s happening in the ‘real’ world, which in my opinion helps pull together the bigger picture of why art matters.”

2012 was a major year of rebranding for PMA, when they gathered national and international traction for their exhibition Weatherbeaten: Winslow Homer and Maine. Brooke says, “Homer was an American artistic genius, and also a hermit with a fantastic moustache and a studio on Prouts Neck in Scarborough.”

PMA used this attention as an opportunity to launch their new logo and to overhaul their brand identity. Brooke says, “Prior to 2012, the museum had an undefined strategy for social media. It was almost a marketing afterthought, but because of all the media attention, we were able to really throw our new look out into the public arena and have a lot of people see it.”

A lot of people have been seeing a new side of PMA, one that doesn’t take itself too seriously and is having fun. Caitlin says, “There is no other form of communication that can convey the energy of an organization like social media, so don’t take yourself too seriously!” While social media is a part of business, Brooke says that it is a part of building relationships, too, adding, “People like to see the behind-the-scenes, real parts of an organization. If something makes you and your coworkers laugh, more than likely other people will see the humor in it too.”

To learn more about the Portland Museum of Art, visit www.portlandmuseum.org, or like them on Facebook to keep up with their latest events and exhibits.

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