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Cony High School

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.

Former Survivor Contestant Finds Inspiration Close to Home

Ashley Underwood at Survivor: Redemption Island Reunion show

Former professional basketball player, former Miss USA contestant, registered nurse, and third runner-up on Survivor: Redemption Island—these are just a few of the titles held by this week’s Monday Maine Maven, Ashley Underwood.

As a Cony High School and University of Maine graduate from Benton, Maine, Underwood says Maine will always be her home saying, “I’m a small-town girl.” The mix of her athleticism and lack of fear of getting her hands dirty helped her make her way through the Survivor experience, but it didn’t help with the aftereffect of increased interest from the public.

Across the country, people began to wonder: who is Ashley Underwood? And naturally, people looked her up on Facebook and Twitter. She quickly began to be thankful for various privacy options and the ability to switch location services off. Underwood sometimes feels the need to censor what she puts out there and says, “I will never post my minute-to-minute activities or exactly where I am. I think a lot of people treat social media sites as their diaries and that’s never really been me.”

Post-Survivor Ashley embraced an opportunity in New York City and began working at Leverage Agency, a full-service sports, entertainment and media marketing company. While in the city, she was also on the receiving end of celebrity sightings. She said she was surprised to be recognized especially in a city where there are millions of people who are accustomed to seeing celebrities on a daily basis. She says, “It’s a very bizarre feeling, but it is definitely flattering.”

Ashley in Nairobi while working with Flying Kites Global

Public attention is part of why Ashley prefers to keep her personal life as private as possible. She says, “I am very blessed to have amazing people in my life who have always been supportive.” She admits she’s not perfect and says, “It’s nice to have people that aren’t afraid to just be honest with me.” If you ask anyone who knows her they will tell you she is one of the nicest, most humble and genuine people they know and if you already follow her on Twitter or are friends with her on Facebook, you know that she finds inspiration in her faith.

Underwood has never been shy about her relationship with God and she credits her passion of giving to others to her belief in God. Ashley says that she believes in putting effort into loving others and making a difference; the things that truly matter.  She also credits her parents saying, “They brought me up to be a strong woman of faith and taught me to be true to what I believe in. They gave me a solid foundation to be the woman I am today.”

Last year she volunteered with Flying Kites Global, an organization based out of Africa that focuses on providing orphaned children of Nairobi with the care and resources necessary to build exceptional lives, families and communities. For Underwood it was an experience of a lifetime, which ultimately resulted in not only meeting with the children at the orphanage, but also a hike to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro.

After recently moving back to Maine, Ashley is currently working as a school nurse at Atwood Primary School in Oakland. To connect with Ashley you can follow her on Twitter @AshleyUSurvivor.

Concrete Jungles and Pine Trees

Erika Bush in New York City

If you ask this week’s Monday Maven, Erika Bush, why she loves public relations, she will respond with, “it’s just what I’ve always done.” She is almost childlike in her enthusiasm as she describes her passion for the job, which developed when she was very young. “I would plan out these elaborate events with my dolls; I would create flyers and ads to tell my parents and sisters when they could come and see my musicals, plays and other events… seating arrangements and all!” She goes on to say her Mom would write reviews, which Erika would then file in folders labeled with event titles, dates and times.

This innate passion for marketing coupled with her gift for writing was noticed by an eighth grade teacher, who first told her she might want to look into a career in public relations. Erika shrugged it off, but in high school she found herself actively involved in the Key Club and was elected as the marketing chair her sophomore year. Her connections with local radio stations increased traffic to the events they hosted, and it was at this time Erika reconsidered the career which had been suggested years before.

Camden, Erika’s coonhound and inspiration for The Camden Collection.

After graduating from Cony High School in 2006, she embarked on a journey to New York City to pursue her passion for marketing and public relations. She obtained her bachelor’s degree in advertising and public relations from The City College of New York while working full-time, interning part-time and freelancing for a local non-profit and a start-up marketing strategic research firm. Erika found juggling tasks exciting; “I took a great interest in developing myself as a working professional and got involved in as many projects as possible.” Continue reading “Concrete Jungles and Pine Trees” »