As we’ve been growing our influence in the cultural sector, Conserv is working with the digital agency 1909 DIGITAL. A tight knit, fully-remote team of seven led by three co-owners in Indianapolis, they’ve been in the trenches in both the for-profit and non-profit sectors. 1909’s expertise includes the cultural sector, Open Access, website optimization, and audience engagement. Below, co-owner Lori Byrd-McDevitt shares how 1909 is taking on digital marketing with Conserv.
What is your experience with collections?
1909 DIGITAL has experience with cultural collections as an agency and in our individual careers. Understanding there’s no need for BS, we’ve built a down-to-earth agency with a personal approach. Most importantly, we stay on top of global issues both within the museum field and outside of it. As a business, we have had past and present clients in the cultural sector, including the Akron Art Museum, the Museum Computer Network (MCN) and the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Through our work with MCN and other partners we are actively in conversations about Collections Management Systems and how they integrate with other museum technology. Three specific team members, Lori, Alli, and Logan, have careers rooted in collections and museums.
In graduate school, Lori worked for two years in the conservation department at Indianapolis Museum of Art, now Newfields, on integrated pest management and public art condition reporting. This is prior to her near-decade as Social Media Manager at The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, the world’s largest children’s museum. Lori stays connected to the broader museum field through her thought leadership, including peer-reviewed articles in Curator: The Museum Journal, published book chapters, and more.
Lori poses on the “blue carpet” at the inaugural Facebook Communities Summit with Ryan Dodge, fellow co-founder of the Museum Social Media Managers Facebook Group
Lori is co-founder and admin of the Museum Social Media Manager’s Facebook group, which consists of nearly 7,000 museum professionals who touch social media in their day-to-day lives. This seven-year-old Facebook group has been the organizing force that initiated international #musesocial collaborative campaigns spanning hundreds of museums. You might have heard of #AskACurator, #SuperbOwl, #MuseumSnowballFight, or #DayOfFacts, which our own Alli co-organized! The group’s efforts have been in major news publications, and in 2017 Lori was one of only 200 Facebook group admins hand-picked to attend the inaugural Facebook Communities Summit, where Mark Zuckerberg announced the new mission of Facebook.
Alli teaches children while serving as the Education Director at Fosterfields Living Historical Farm
Before coming to 1909, Alli Hartley-Kong spent seven years working in museums, and remains a champion of small museums as a board member of the Small Museum Association. Her experience as a “Jill of all Trades” at small institutions, where everyone has a role in day-to-day historic preservation, directly relates to Conserv’s mission. Specifically, her training in collections at Roosevelt-Vanderbilt Historic Site helps Conserv message their sales to these types of institutions.
Logan posing with artist, Nick Cave.
Our final team member from the museum sector, Logan Acton, also understands the value of collections monitoring. Through his experience at institutions such as the Cranbrook Art Museum and Dallas Museum of Art, Logan has worked closely with objects and understands the complexity of their care. Perhaps his favorite role was assisting with contemporary artist Nick Cave’s site-responsive project in Detroit; both exciting and challenging, this not only involved the handling, transportation, and condition reporting of Cave’s beloved Soundsuits, but also performing alongside them. Both a sculptor and educator, Logan also served as co-director and co-curator of an artist-run gallery for three years. He is deeply familiar with the ephemeral nature of materials and best practices in exhibit installation and maintenance.
What excites you about Conserv?
At 1909, we love to bring marketing expertise to the niche industry of museums and collecting institutions. In our previous cultural heritage and museum careers, our team members have spent hours traipsing around historic houses with pencils and clipboards chasing data loggers, struggling to maintain optimal collections environments while dealing with the reality of complicated HVAC systems, all while trying to communicate the importance of monitoring and data. Because we have lived and breathed collections care, we immediately saw that this product is unique. We understand the power that it has to make the lives of our colleagues easier. We are so excited by Conserv’s potential to shake up the industry.
One of 1909’s goals is to always help our clients put their best digital foot forward. But we also do what we do because we believe technology can improve the lives of museum, collections, and cultural workers. We were thrilled to find another company with similar beliefs: whose thinking is that technology can streamline processes, make workflow easier, and give museum workers more time to build higher-level strategy. Like Conserv, 1909 DIGITAL has team members with deep experience in cultural heritage, as well as other team members with deep technical backgrounds. We’re incredibly motivated by a technology product like Conserv that is purpose-built for museum applications. The team is looking forward to helping technologists and cultural heritage experts collaborate more successfully.
Where do you see the Conserv going in the future?
Although we are marketers, we see our role as less of closing sales, and more as building community. We can help Conserv continue to grow in ways responsive to the needs of the collections and museum community. We’re excited to see the continued conversation between museums, collecting professionals, and Conserv—and the way that Conserv can adapt services and develop new products in response to these conversations about needs. Working with a company that truly listens is exciting and invigorating, and we look forward to enhancing Conserv’s digital presence and working on building digital communities to help both Conserv grow, and collections professionals connect and benefit from Conserv’s offerings.
What is your role on the Conserv team?
We are working primarily with Melissa King, Conserv’s new Conservation Liaison, to help communicate the brand clearly and cohesively and support product and sales goals through digital marketing tactics, plain and simple. Our deliverables include refining the brand messaging, helping to share the incredible stories about Conserv’s customers, and working to figure out the best way to promote preventive conservation tools to the field. In addition to developing new messages around Conserv, we’re also revamping their website and building a fresh new look for the brand (coming soon)! 1909 is a team of marketers, but we’re also a team of museum people. There is a perception that “marketing” doesn’t mean “community” and therefore is a dirty word, leading many to believe that a marketer isn’t a true museum professional. At 1909 we like to think that we prove this misconception wrong.
We love to say “You get many brains instead of one.” Our team takes on many distinct roles for each client, defined by our unique skill sets.
- Logan is 1909’s Brand and Design Manager. He is serving as Account Manager (keeping things organized!) and is leading the charge on the brand design updates.
- Lori is our co-owner and brand messaging expert. She serves as the Strategist for Conserv supports Logan on logistics across marketing, brand, and web projects.
- Alli is the team’s Digital Content Strategist and a prolific writer- a skill that she applies to Conserv by advising on brand messaging and content creation.
- Jarred Juett is another co-owner and our all-around web-tech aficionado. He is supporting the web build and advises on digital advertising strategy.
- Chris Theisen, our third co-owner, is known for conversion optimization and email. He manages the web build project and advises on email strategy.
- Joel Gratcyk is 1909’s Web Optimization Manager and works alongside Eli Vida, our Digital Marketing Strategist, on SEO (search engine optimization), and UX (user experience).