Last year marked my AAM conference debut. And I found that AAM and its professional branches was all about helping me. AAM and PRAM (Public Relations and Marketing) are like career support groups. When I arrived in Denver last year, I had been working in the museum world only five months and the AAM conference experience was invaluable. As the director of communications for the Honolulu Academy of Arts, a mid-size encyclopedic art museum, I attended every communications-related session I could. PRAM members were welcoming and generous with information. The connections I made have been invaluable as I learn and grow into my position. I was particularly fired up by a session on rebranding. So much so that I made a proposal for the 2009 conference as a follow-up. And it was accepted—and I was asked to chair it.
Then a few months later a little financial crisis hit the planet, and the travel budgets at our museum were wiped from the slates. But thanks to the Emerging Museum Professionals program, a fellowship allowed me to make it to Philadelphia.
When I checked in at the conference on Thursday, AAM President Ford Bell was working his way down the line I was standing in, saying hi to conference attendees. When he got to me I was able to thank him for the opportunity the fellowship allowed me.
That in a nutshell is AAM—it’s a big organization with members stretching coast to coast, yet its core staff is accessible and hellbent on helping museums and their employees work toward a bright future. There are a lot people at this conference, and the big cheese personally introduced himself to me. It’s kinda incredible.
A little advice: If you’d like to get more involved in AAM, I highly recommend chairing a session. I learned so much working with the four panelists I rounded up. I was totally schooled on rebranding by Mark Minelli (Minelli Inc.), Beth Tuttle (Met Strategies), LeAnne Ruzzamenti (Crocker Art Museum) and Bernard Uy (Wall-to-Wall Studios). And they’re just really nice people who generously shared their expertise with attendees at “Extreme Makeover 101: Rebranding Museums” on Thursday.
It’s Saturday morning and I’m off to find out how to attract YoCos!—Lesa Griffith, director of communications, Honolulu Academy of Arts, PRAM member