I interviewed Rebecca Aloisi, Vice President for Marketing at George Washington’s Mount Vernon. Rebecca recently received recognition for five years of service to Mount Vernon. Rebecca earned her Bachelor degree in Spanish and Linguistics before achieving her Master’s in Marketing. While she recognizes and stated that her undergrad did not have anything to do with where she is in her career now, her MBA certainly does give her the educational background to be in the position she is today. Previously spending her entire career in the tourism industry, she worked in the Washington D.C. tourism office building fronts to continue building visitation to the area as well raising the general awareness of what D.C. has to offer. She makes mention of telling stories, working with people, connecting people to content, and sharing that content on a wider scale which really gave her good practical experience to transition into the VP of Marketing position at Mount Vernon.
I found this interview to be really interesting for a couple reasons. One reason is simply that I work at Mount Vernon as well and was able to get a different perspective on the marketing operations there. Making the connection, when I could, between what Rebecca was telling us and what I personally deal with day to day while at work gave me greater insight on certain things, like those dealing with guest facing promotions and practices.
The other thing that stuck out to me as interesting was something that I have heard about, read about, thought about, learned about many times during my dive into this professional field. That comments about ‘wearing many hats’. That phrase came into the light prior to my adventure into this program but it really has taken on greater meaning since doing so. During my first semester, in a class that I otherwise was not too greatly fond of, ‘wearing many hats’ was used quite a bit. When referring to job duties, as the expression goes, Miss. Aloisi referenced marketing as having the same effect as say, the education department within a museum. ‘Other duties as assigned’ has sort of been a recent running joke amongst the supervisors in my department, but really it is not a joke. On this professional level, as we continue to try and grow, having the capability and capacity to be able to ‘wear many hats’ inside the museum world is a highly valuable commodity. I truly believe that not all people are able to firmly grasp that concept, and, if they can grasp it, not all are able to accept it. Thankfully I have always been the type of person to take on all challenges, of course some are more enjoyable than others, but having the ability and mindset to wear many hats is a must in this world. Throughout the interview this point was reiterated multiple times, in different forms, and it really solidified my belief in that phrase being a mainstay in the professional museum industry. And I believe that will only help me moving forward.
Jason: I have grown to understand that being responsible enough to be trusted with many hats is a professional asset. One which I’m more than happy to oblige. Some professions rely on this more than others. I have always felt that within non-profits, this is somewhat common.
Yes Kristen. I take pride in the ability to take on the tasks of many hats and always look forward to taking on more and more responsibilities in the workplace.
The insights provided by Rebecca in how to look at social media from the marketing point of view are great. Rebecca describes how social media moved into being a business marketing powerhouse in the last five years, and how they strategize these opportunities for Mt. Vernon. Her description of other departments running their own social media (26:45) for focused reach to specific audiences was interesting as well. How this has risks of redundancy and consistency so keeping communication lines open is key. I was glad to hear the strategy they use is not only geared towards growing their audience for sales, although this is a major part, it is also to build awareness of Washington’s legacy and keeping this relevant in today’s technological world.
I love the idea of different departments working together to produce the best possible social media posts. I do think though that this practice is not all that common as there are tensions between particular people and specific departments at many different sites. Its like they all battle for supremacy, they need to be the one on top. The sooner that institutions can put that aside, the better off they will be on a whole.
Something I found particularly interesting about your interview was in regards to tracking the success of a post. I never considered evaluating how many tickets were purchased for an event through an embedded link! It really seems clever. I have noticed that some posts may say “link in bio”, but I’m not sure I’ve encountered links to purchase tickets to an event or exhibition.
It would be interesting to see how Mt. Vernon’s social media approach changes now that they have a dedicated social media manager. Rebecca pointed out that as of right now, they are purely marketing, which is important and it seems like they’ve had some success with that! I think having a human touch/voice is important, too. I wonder if adding that touch will increase traffic, ticket sales, etc?
Hearing from someone who doesn’t have a traditional humanities background was a great way to look at social media from a different point of view. I liked how Rebecca told you that she had experience with “story-telling and connecting people to content”. Her experience with tourism really gives her a good sense of what is means to draw people to a place to visit, especially when they don’t live in the area.
Rebecca’s interview made me realize just how important it is in having a rich background with diverse experiences can be when entering into the museum profession. I love the fact that Mount Vernon encourages social media and are expanding in that area by having a newly appointed social media director.
Rebecca’s discussion on channel selection was very interesting. While they still favor Facebook, for reasons we have heard from other interviewees (most followers, where their audience is), I thought it was interesting that they noted Instagram as the “future” of branding and connecting with a younger generation. It sounded like she had some hard, drilled down data on exactly who their audience is and how to target them most effectively- I wonder what Mt. Vernon uses for their analytics?
Besides having a MA in Marketing, Rebecca Aloisi said that she has worked within the tourism industry and this experience allows her to create content. However, its interesting to note that she only started using social media while at Mount Vernon, considering its a new platform to use for museums and organizations. I get that Rebecca stated she does not intend to pursue any more higher degrees but intends to continue her education, what kind of training does she mean? Or does she mean future life experiences as a learning experience?
Not necessarily related to your interview but I appreciate your comments about “wearing many hats” and “other duties as assigned.” I too have heard these comments increasingly more and more over the past few years I have been in the field. For a long time I thought it was just because I worked in small museums but it makes me wonder if it is just a symptom of working in the non-profit field or if it is just because there are more and more duties to get finished (social media being a major culprit of this!)
Jason, I thought it was really interesting how Rebecca uses social media to make the content relevant to the audience, engaging them with posts that are not necessarily historical in nature but are relevant, related topics may be already engaging in such as gardens, animals, etc. (14.55-15.05). By doing this, it can introduce people to the collections at Mount Vernon in a new and interesting way. It comes back to the fact that visitors on social media are using these sites for different things, whether it is for entertainment or information and as museums post different things, they need to have a balance of both things to effectively engage visitors.
I liked that Rebecca is clever with ensuring that visitors are always somehow being linked back to their platforms to keep the museum experience going. A museum visit engagement doesn’t just end when a visitor walks out, in fact we should always find ways to keep customers more involved whether it be signing up for our newsletters or just coming back to an event we’re hosting later in the year. She mentioned that the experience should never be boring and I think that she does a great job at making sure that the pictures are great and that the information is both informative as well as intriguing.
Rebecca discusses the reasons for splitting platforms and what content gets put on what handle, which I found very interesting, since I haven’t followed many instituions that do that. I like the she acknowledges that it may not work for every organization, but they still engage with audiences, so it works for them. I do agree that its a risk of dividing audiences, but I do see how it could be great for targeting very specific demographics.
I thought there was interesting insight that social media at most places like Mount Vernon that social media responsibilities were really relegated as a “plus-one” responsibility with someone who had a full-time job already and they are now finally creating a specific job for it. This is a trend that I also see among other museums as they grow.
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