WMPRSA Program Recap – Lights in the Night – How PR launched lanterns into the ArtPrize Top 5

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On November 15, 2012, WMPRSA hosted a panel of four speakers, Dan Johnson, who is the managing partner of Six Voices LLC, Mark Carpenter, an entrepreneur, currently engaged in digital app collaborations with clients across the world, Kim Bode, owner of 834 Design and Marketing, and Adrienne Wallace, a project manager at 834 Design and Marketing. Wallace helped lead the discussion. [Slides From the Presentation Available Here]

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The panel discussed how the ArtPrize entry Lights in the Night made it into the Top 5. Dan and Mark spoke about how they developed the idea, while Kim and Adrienne discussed how 834 Design and Marketing handled all of the promotion.

Carpenter explained that before he came up with the “lantern” idea he knew that he wanted to be involved with ArtPrize in some way and participate in the “risk taking roll.” He wanted to show his children that you can start with a small idea and turn it into something larger than you could have ever hoped for. Carpenter also knew that he wanted to involve the community in his entry.

Johnson said that after he and Carpenter decided to enter “Lights in the Night” into ArtPrize, they discussed how they needed to find great advertising and marketing. Thats when they hired 834 Design and Marketing.

Wallace and Bode went on to discuss how 834 led the Lights in the Night campaign:

  • Name selection
  • Descriptive of what the event truly was
  • Content creation
  • PR pitch to local media
  • Weekly blog posts to Facebook notes
  • Postcard (included in Gilmore Collection restaurant checks)
  • Weekly email (2,000 on list)
  • Advertising
  • The Lights in the Night ad on GRNow.com had the highest click through in the history of the website
  • Street teams that passed out post cards, and QR codes to help drive the public to the website
  • Word of mouth- The community had a lot to do with this, they became advocates for Lights in the Night.
  • Instructional video
  • Poster with instructions on how to light a lantern
  • In order to get the media involved and interested in the event it was important to have a mini-launch so they could all see the lanterns first-hand.

Johnson discussed the process they took to receive all of the proper permits with the city and then went on to explain the difficulties they had with the city a week before the lanterns were scheduled to launch. The main issue they had with the city was the fact that they pulled several locations that were scheduled launch spots. They were also give the green light to purchase 20,000 lanterns, but after they were purchased were told they could only launch 2,500. At the end of the event the final count came to 15,000 lanterns that had actually been lit and launched.

Lights in the Night entered the Top 25 within a day, from there it moved to the Top 10, and ultimately into the Top 5. Brian Burch, public relations director at ArtPrize said that he had never seen anything like it before and it was a testament of the community’s engagement.

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About Derek DeVries

A communications / public relations / social media pro in West Michigan trying to get past the beta version of his life cycle.
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