Brie Logsdon, the exhibition designer, planner, and editor at INMA.org, demonstrated that museums and news media companies have a lot in common

Both museums and news media companies have storytelling at their core, Logsdon explained to delegates at the first day of the INMA European Media Conference. They are also both struggling to find the right business model that allows them to live through storytelling. Logsdon showed that museum engagement techniques can be also applied to a story.

News media companies should be creating communities around engaging news experiences. Experiences allow them to create differentiation from other companies and build loyal, engaged audiences. Advertising partners have a role in these experiences as well, but not in the traditional ad formats.

There are three initial lessons that news media companies can learn from organising a museum exhibition:

  1. Put a storyteller in charge, not a techie.

    The exhibition used for this example, “Inside Confucius,” hoped to engage people in the story it was presenting. Engagement is just as important as the story itself. Whereas content can be found everywhere, user engagement is something that can’t be repeated.

    The museum’s exhibition offered augmented reality experiences, where users could interact not only with the content but also with each other.

  2. Create tiered levels of engagement.

    The mantra “exhibition design begins with the art and ends with the visitor” can be also applied to each story. Each panel of the “Inside Confucius” exhibition told a different part of a story. Visitors could drop into it at any chosen moment.

    The Web site was also tiered with panels as primary entry points. Additionally, the museum elicited feedback. It posted questions about what interests the users had (such as Chinese culture, soft power, education, or experience).

  3. Integrate revenue strategies in design.

    The museum created extra panels for additional partnerships with different universities. Despite having a limited number of information panels, the museum partnered with universities that were not only interested in the existing exhibition, but also added new panels as well. This opened up the new revenue possibilities for the museum.

The “Inside Confucius” project was a prototype – done in 15 weeks. There were successes and lessons, but also failures. For example, the museum failed in creating a community. The reason? “It didn't focus on it at the beginning of designing the experience,” Logsdon says.

Logsdon concluded her presentation by stating that keeping the three suggestions above at the heart of storytelling will not only help create an engaging experience, but may also lead to something new and innovative.