Tulsa Public Relations Case Study: Tulsa Historical Society

Background.

The Tulsa Historical Society is a nonprofit museum that features an extensive collection of resources on Tulsa’s past. The Society manages information requests from the public, provides lectures for schools and civic groups, exhibits collection materials and sponsors educational programs to foster awareness of the city’s history.

The issue.

The Society hired Waller & Company in July 2007 to manage a public relations campaign for the grand opening of the Society’s new headquarters in the Samuel Travis Mansion. The organization felt it was critical to increase the community’s awareness of the Society and its new headquarters – primarily because for most of its existence the Society had not had a visible “headquarters” that the public could visit. (The organization had been located for years on the grounds of the Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa, in a small house that was only accessible by appointment.)

That larger problem was solved in 1997 when the Society purchased the historic Travis Mansion, and the organization built a modern wing adjacent to the mansion to house several small galleries. Renovations of the actual mansion, however, moved slowly and it was January 2008 when the Society was finally ready to open the doors of the Travis Mansion as its new headquarters.

The solution.

Waller & Company implemented a successful campaign that has dramatically increased the community’s awareness of the Society and its new home – from targeted media relations and marketing to helping organize and publicize unique special events, such as the unveiling of “The Five Moons” statues of Oklahoma’s internationally renowned Indian ballerinas and the grand opening event at the Travis Mansion.

The grand opening events drew much larger crowds than anticipated, and the firm’s PR efforts generated 60 overall media hits for the Society from November 2007 through March 2008 (30 print stories, 10 TV hits, one radio hit and 19 online hits).

As a result of the publicity garnered from the Travis Mansion grand opening events, the Society experienced a 63 percent increase in museum visitors (January – April 2008) over the same four-month period in 2007 and saw facility rentals by community groups quadruple over the same four-month period compared to the previous year. Even more noticeable, the Society saw a 244 percent increase in “walk-in” visitor traffic to the museum that year (January – April 2008) compared to the same period the previous year.

Waller continues to work year-round for the Tulsa Historical Society, helping to raise awareness of THS within the Tulsa community. Current work includes media relations, community outreach and collateral materials support.