The Toledo Museum of Art Glass Pavilion – Global Public Relations 

Client:

An exceptional 5,000-piece collection of priceless glass objects. A fluid architectural design akin to the red-hot, molten sand from which its contents were created. Intrigue shared by contractors, architects, designers and art enthusiasts alike. This was the time to share the glory of the Glass Pavilion with the world.

Challenges:

Three main challenges existed in launching a successful public relations crusade. First – Sustain the interest of construction, architectural and consumer-oriented media throughout the three-year construction period. Second – Create enthusiasm surrounding the geographic location of the building in Toledo, Ohio. Third – Address a constantly changing construction schedule and an international architectural firm, SANAA, embarking on its first commission in the United States. 

Solutions:

Charged with coordinating national and international media, the first challenge of sustaining interest was met by creating a long-lead, three-tiered pitching structure. The strategy started early in the construction process and progressed along with the building itself. Construction publications were enticed by the unique processes used in the project. As the building began to take shape, the architectural components revealed themselves, raising the eyebrows of architectural aficionados. Consumer (design, lifestyle and trend) publications found great aesthetic value in the finished project.

The second challenge of creating interest in light of the geographic location was partially precluded by the notoriety of the project. Pitching early to a wide variety of publications created good “buzz” and generated further interest in the building. The historical value of a new museum constructed of glass to exhibit a world-renown glass collection in a city industrialized by glass factories piqued sentimental interest and lent itself to the newsworthiness of the project. 

Diligent, proactive communication helped to address the third challenge. Unique construction techniques provided a dynamic construction schedule. Early pitching, careful relationship building and keeping editors informed of schedule changes, supported an active interest in the story. Providing accurate information and access to the Tokyo-based architectural firm through the use of e-mail interviews coordinated through its N.Y. office, helped bridge the gap of time zones and language barriers. A media preview day during opening week, with complete access to the key players, also proved invaluable.

Results:

Exceeding all expectations, the TMA Glass Pavilion opened in August of 2006 to a flurry of media attention and glowing architectural reviews. To date, editorial content, photos and reviews regarding the project have appeared in more than 53 publications from dozens of countries around the world. The value of the editorial content equated to actual advertising space has surpassed $1.6 million and continues to climb. Much like the collection the building houses, relationships built with media contacts and the additional credibility in the art world that impacts grants, acquisitions, lending, among others, is priceless.