Creating Content in Lockdown

In March 2020, communications teams in museums across Scotland had to quickly adapt their scheduled digital content in response to a nationwide lockdown. Unable to continue promoting their exhibitions and events, the marketing and communications team at Culture Perth and Kinross were in need of alternative content to keep Perth Museum and Art Gallery’s social media presence alive.

So, with the support of the team, Events Officer Dougie Scott threw his creative energy into recreating the museum’s artworks and objects in Microsoft Paint. What followed were requests from national museums to stylise their buildings and works of art, press coverage and an air of mystery around Perth’s very own Banksy, #DougieDraws.

Capitalising on the unexpected surge of engagement, and with their audience asking for more drawings, the team decided to develop the hashtag into a campaign. It was like catching lightning in a bottle; three months and over 100 masterpieces later, #DougieDraws attracted over 275,000 impressions on Twitter.

We spoke with Dougie and Culture Perth and Kinross’ Marketing Officer David McLeod who shared with us their lessons learned from the campaign and explained what working conditions made this kind of original content possible. Here are their top tips:

Draw on the strengths of your colleagues

David: “It all started as a bit of fun when the team realised that Dougie was a dab hand at Microsoft Paint. After the first post was so well-received, as his line manager I made sure to give Dougie the time and space to curate his artistic flare and see where it led to.”

(Plus, avid gamer David took the initiative to engage with other mediums later in the campaign. He added some of Dougie’s drawings into the Animal Crossing universe using the scanning tool, so users could decorate their virtual home with a piece of CPK artwork. The story was picked up Digital Things, a popular e-newsletter which covers digital developments from in/around the arts and culture sector.)

Work with what you’ve got

David: “When looking for new content, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Your subject matter on social media should always be about promoting what makes you or your organisation unique – that could be your collections, building or stories.”

Dougie: “Recreating the museums’ collections was just a new way of reinterpreting the resources we already had. It offered our audience a new way of engaging with the collection and enabled us as staff to gain a greater understanding of the artwork and objects.”

Draft a publishing schedule

So, your idea has kicked off on social media – congratulations! Now what?

David: “Draft a publishing schedule. Think about your resources, staff time, how much content you want to share and decide whether you’ll post daily, twice-weekly, etc. There’s no reason why a campaign can’t be spontaneous, and it doesn’t have to be thought out 12 months in advance, but a schedule will undoubtedly help by giving your output that all important quality – consistency.”

Take control

About a month into #DougieDraws, the local press picked up on the story independently following the buzz online, but David still sent out a press release.

David: “We did this in order to remain in control of the narrative. Plus, it was an opportunity to cultivate the story and add an air of mystique to draw back in users who were already engaged – we went with “who is the Perth Banksy?””

Tie your campaign to other projects

Dougie: “Your campaign shouldn’t exist in isolation, instead, use it to help promote your online events and resources. For example, we used #DougieDraws to promote the CPK Museums podcast, and I prepared Culture Perth and Kinross’ followers for the gallery’s COVID-19 precautions by sketching the building’s new safety installations.”

Collaborate with other organisations

Wouldn’t it be dreamy to attract the followers of the big players in Scottish heritage? When larger heritage organisations also started requesting digital recreations from #DougieDraws, Dougie set to work drawing up their suggestions to engage with their audiences.

David: “Keep an eye out too for other organisations’ campaigns that you might be able to collaborate on. The Culture Perth and Kinross team were invited by Art UK, for example, to share a virtual exhibition of the #DougieDraws pieces to promote their new app.”

Monitor engagement and know when to quit

After three months of posting Dougie’s sketches, venues began to open again as lockdown eased.

David: “The campaign had enjoyed the most success on Twitter, with a large and consistent weekly reach, but when it started to level out on all platforms the team made a joint decision to bring #DougieDraws to a close for the time being.”

Dougie: “With events in the museum back on the horizon, I needed to reprioritise my workload. So we decided to end where it all began, with a final recreation of JD Ferguson’s hat, this time demonstrating my massively improved Paint skills!”

Think about the future

Although #DougieDraws is put to bed for now, the team are keen to resurrect the mysterious digital artist persona in the future.

Dougie: “At present, I’m developing a how-to video to encourage Culture Perth and Kinross’ followers to recreate the collections for themselves. We’re also working on content for the school holidays, such as colouring sheets, and even a possible merch line. The possibilities are endless!”

“What were your lessons learned from the campaign?”

Dougie: “We learned that we can take risks with our online content and that interpretation can be done in any way. We’re pleased to have sown the seeds for people in other teams to think about how they can approach interpretation differently. Most importantly, don’t be afraid to try something different and have fun!”

David: “Spread the load, it’s not the sole job of marketing to promote the collection. Next time, we’d engage with the curatorial team earlier on to get help with contextualising the drawings. Remember to keep an eye on numbers and when they start to dwindle, reassess your publishing schedule; be sure to agree as a team when to slow the campaign down and end it.”

“And finally, what’s your favourite #DougieDraws masterpiece?”

Dougie: “Danu by J D Ferguson – I love her cloak of different colours”

David: “I really like Sunflowers by Van Gogh. I think this was the first time I really saw Dougie’s work in a different light. Before this, his work had been humorous recreations, but from this point on I was like “wow this is really good””.

Note: Summary written by a member of the SHSMG team

Header Image by Dougie Draws via Twitter

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