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Handbook of Cultural and Heritage Management

7. Chapter 6 - NETWORKING, ENHANCING, PROMOTING

7.1. Enhancement and publicity on local, national and international level

Enhancement and publicity are intrinsically related with increasing numbers of visitors. There are many means and applications available for cultural enhancement, depending on the philosophy and on the technical and financial capacity of each organization. The main categories of means are:

●       Printed material (brochures, leaflets, guides) to be distributed in places where visitors go (i.e. info points, tourist agencies, hotels, restaurants, cruise ships, airports etc). Printed material, although expensive, is essential as it addresses all visitors (including those who are not computer literate) and it can be carried along everywhere.

●       The internet (either creation of a web-page or inclusion in larger portals specialized in enhancing cultural content). This is a very effective way to achieve publicity, as it can support multilingual content, address audience worldwide, and can be updated with relatively little cost. Furthermore, internet sites can be developed into educational tools or otherwise interactive on-line programs.

●       Social media: Often linked to the main internet site, social media are easy to use and more spontaneous in terms of the audience’s response. Social media can increase visitability and constitute forum for exchange of ideas or views related to the heritage site or cultural event. Thus, locals, visitors and the public can upload material, pictures and information related to the latter, creating personal stories and offering the managing authority the opportunity to get valuable feedback as well as to have immediate contact with its audience, thus advertising events and special features.

●       Mobile apps for phones and tablets. Mobile phone companies have already invested in cultural information offered to their subscribers (e.g. “alerts” with information on heritage sites and places of cultural interest “popping up” when subscribers approach them). Furthermore, several companies, large and small, invest in the development of applications aiming at interactive guiding of visitors. A good investigation of these programmes can lead to effective networks, as local agents (municipal authorities, local educated people etc) can offer information and content to these companies in order to see their region represented in a spectacular way. With the recent spread of open sources, even guiding platforms where individuals or companies can upload content for free have seen the light (see for example: https://izi.travel/en )

●       Cultural activities and events: Cultural activities and events within heritage-related sites and buildings or centred around local culture, collective memory, intangible heritage etc attract visitors from the broader vicinity or even tourists from afar, depending on the publicity and quality of the events. They can also attract specialists, thus turning the events into manifestations of high academic or cultural calibre. Some best practices from Greece include the re-enactment of a naval battle in Spetses (the so-called Armata) or the celebration of the naval battle of Lepanto (1571) at present-day Nafpaktos. Another very successful celebration is the cultural manifestations taking place on the August full moon: concerts, theatrical plays, song festivals are organized within archaeological sites, medieval castles and Ottoman baths. However, the kind of events that can be organized within such sites is a matter of debate between archaeologists, heritage managers and the rest of the stakeholders. Thus artistic and cultural events are considered “safe” options, whereas conference, fashion shows or commercial exhibitions are not allowed, in Greece at least.

●       Audiovisual productions. Despite its high cost, production of audiovisual material is particularly effective, particularly if this material is played on the TV. Documentaries, short films, even you tube videos enhance the heritage site or the cultural event and increase people’s desire to visit.

Production of memorabilia and saleable items: it constitutes a way of raising extra money but also to further increase a project’s or heritage asset’s reputation. Well-designed and well-marketed objects contribute greatly towards “branding” the site or event in the local market as well as abroad.