Case Study :: Smithsonian Magazine Museum Day

This Case Study outlines what we did and how we did it and demonstrates our results.



A team member was searching for things to do in the Wichita area and found a mention of Smithsonian Magazine Museum Day. We located the 2007 Smithsonian website and were disappointed to learn that only two Wichita museums had participated that year.

We chose to address Smithsonian Magazine Museum Day as a community based cultural awareness project. With a sign-up deadline less than two weeks away, we limited our outreach to Sedgwick County area museums and compiled a list of all venues that fit the criteria for participation.


  • Increase participation of Sedgwick County museums and cultural centers in Museum Day.
  • Demonstrate to area museums that by working together to promote a program or project, they increase the success rate of their media pitches.
  • Drive and increase Saturday traffic to the participating museums.
  • Raise community awareness of the cultural opportunities Wichita offers.
  • Raise awareness of Start-Thinking in the museum community.


Leverage relationships with prospective sponsorship partners and media to generate awareness of Museum Day and show an increase in both participation by museums and visitor attendance from last year.


With print deadlines a matter of days away, Start-Thinking immediately set out to secure sponsors who could help us promote Museum Day. Wichita magazine provided a 1/3-page ad in their September issue, and public radio station KMUW provided underwriting announcements during September and ads on their website homepage and in their printed newsletter. In addition, Postcard Planet produced 5000 promotional postcards, which were distributed among the 12 museums and at other locations in the Wichita area.

Simultaneously, and also on a tight deadline, we contacted 17 Sedgwick County museums and asked them to participate in Museum Day. With 12 museums enrolled, our success rate was 71%. We facilitated the sign up process by gathering copy and photos for each participating museum and by completing the online enrollment forms. We prepared tips and instructions on how to get the most out of Museum Day (i.e. place information about Museum Day on your web calendar, write about Museum Day in your newsletter, talk about the event at volunteer and staff meetings).

Within 10 days we had secured the participation of 12 museums and three sponsors. We posted the event details on community calendars and sent out an optimized media release and began to pitch media. We wrote two PSAs that aired on Radio Disney in August and September. As media appearances were booked, we coordinated representation from each of the participating museums and developed talking points for the media and for the interviewees.

We compiled media clippings and distributed them to each of the participating museums and to Smithsonian Magazine.


  • Museum participation was six times higher than in 2007.
  • Media was significant enough to allow each of the 12 museums to be featured or quoted at least once.
  • At least two viral emails were discovered promoting the event, neither of which were intaited by Start-Thinking.
  • In the two weeks prior and two weeks following Museum Day, professional peers and community leaders recognized Start-Thinking employees for spearheading the event on a local level.
  • A total of 2470 Museum Day admission cards were redeemed.

We do not know how much traffic was generated on the Smithsonian Magazine Museum Day website as a result of our efforts and are not able to determine if there was an increase in admission card applicants.

As most visitors participated with at least one other person (and in many instances, several children), it is safely estimated that at a minimum, the 2470 redeemed admission cards reflect an actual attendance of more than 5000. Without data on the number of people who participated in 2007 and without knowledge of typical Saturday attendance numbers, we can only presume that Museum Day generated attendance spikes.

Media coverage of Museum Day was significant despite our timeline and competition with two large annual events: The Kansas State Fair of Kansas and the Wichita Wagonmasters Chili Cookoff.

KAKE (ABC affiliate) Midday news, 9/22/08
KCTU (independent broadcast & Internet) Your Hour, 9/19/08
KSN (NBC affiliate) Noon news, 9/17/08

10pm news, 9/24/08

KWCH (CBS affiliate) Noon news, 9/24/08
Radio Disney Aug 17 and Sept. 21
Radio Disney 2 PSAs, Aug. / Sept.
KEYN (Entercom) morning drive, 9/18/08
KMUW (affiliate of NPR, PRI APM) underwriting announcements, Sept.
FoxKansas (Fox affiliate) banner ad,
KCTU (independent broadcast & Internet) broadcast,
KMUW (affiliate of NPR, PRI APM) banner ad,
KWCH (CBS affiliate) banner ad,
Wichita Business Journal earned media 8/22/08, 9/26/08
Wichita magazine 1/3-page ad, Sept.
RIPPLe Electronic Communications
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