Digital Marketing, Educational Programming
The Gallery of the Portuguese Pioneers (GPP) is a museum in Toronto focused on sharing and exploring the history of Portuguese immigration to Canada.
*The following description of my role at this establishment has been synthesized to maintain a focus on the digital marketing and design aspects I undertook.
For nearly 5 years, I held the title of Curator and Manager at this establishment, but due to its small size, I took on a wide range of roles.
When I first began working at the GPP, it had been operating mostly within the realm of Toronto’s Portuguese community for nearly 20 years.
I was initially hired for the role of curator. This encompassed planning and setting up exhibits (on and off-site), and designing all of the accompanying signage and promotional materials.
A few years later, I began taking on more of a managerial role and thus implemented a series of changes in order to expose the organization to a broader audience, such as:
- Implementing a new digital marketing strategy
- Facilitating digital integration
- Building partnerships with like-minded institutions
- Shifting the organization’s focus toward youth engagement and education
The first step of digital integration was to relaunch a new website with a modern feel and improved the user experience. I outsourced the web development, working closely with the team throughout each step of the redesign process. In addition, I fully optimized the new website for search, with an emphasis on local SEO to help attract more visitors.
The second phase involved developing a multi-tiered content strategy.
I initiated this by having GPP’s collection of documents, newspapers and photos digitized for preservation.
Once digitized, an online database was created and all digitized materials were integrated. The reasoning behind creating this database was to provide students, educators, researchers and the general public with access for their own learning needs, as well as to facilitate the promotion of GPP’s collection for marketing purposes.
Next, I started a blog to share information about different aspects of Portuguese-Canadian culture and to spotlight the GPPs collection, upcoming events, and any other relevant information.
Shortly after, I also began recruiting Portuguese-Canadian university students to become regular contributors, providing them with the opportunity to learn more about the subject matter, improve their writing skills, and share their own thoughts and experiences—ultimately linking back to GPP’s youth engagement goals.
I concentrated social media efforts on two platforms—Facebook and Twitter. I chose to focus on just these two, given that there was a limited collection of visual materials (such as artifacts), and a much larger collection of files, documents, as well as a very active blog. The two chosen platforms made it easiest to share these types of posts, while directly and seamlessly linking users to the website.
Most of GPP’s audience on social media was obtained organically, aside from periodical targeted Facebook ads that were purchased to increase page likes.
Along with a monthly newsletter to provide patrons with news and updates from the GPP—including a round-up of blog posts—I would also send out an email to the mailing list linking to each new post after it was published.
This tactic increased both traffic to the website by 500%, time spent on the website by over 350%, and the number of pages viewed during each session by approximately 300% overall.
A key aspect of the digital strategy was to distribute our content across other local digital outlets and blogs.
This not only drove even more traffic to the website, but it also resulted in boosting our local SEO ranking.
Another key aspect of generating interest in the GPP was through event hosting. I planned a range of events—from book signings, seminars, panel talks to wine tastings—with the aim of exposing the establishment to a broader audience.
Promotion for these events would funnel through the same digital distribution strategy (posting on our blog, sending out email alerts and invites, and publishing event information on local directories), along with more traditional marketing methods, such as the distribution of flyers.
Youth engagement is a focal point of GPP’s programming. This is partly because Portuguese-Canadian youth have the second-highest secondary school dropout rate in Toronto, along with one of the lowest post-secondary enrolment rates.
The idea behind focusing on youth engagement is that through teaching Portuguese-Canadian youth more about their heritage and its history, and by exposing them to influential Portuguese-Canadian role models, with time and persistence, these statistics may change. This project also supports the broader goal of Canadian educational systems, which is to promote inclusion, diversity and cultural awareness in schools.
In July 2017, alongside professors from York University’s Portuguese and Spanish department, I helped to organize a summer camp program for high school students. The aim of the camp was to expose students to the benefits of attending university by providing them with examples of what a positive schooling experience can be through a series of activities and workshops.
I also developed of a high school-level course on the history of Portuguese immigration to Canada. Along with writing and designing the textbook and set of assessments, I created videos for each corresponding chapter (5 in total), to provide educators with the flexibility of having a variety of learning materials to integrate into their lessons. In the development of this project, I worked closely with a professor at York University, who acted as the research consultant.
The two essential design considerations of this project were flexibility and accessibility. The course was created with a modular structure, to enable flexible integration with other secondary school curriculum resources. The goal is for educators to be able to lift only the materials they need to complement their lessons.
I opted for a magazine-style layout, in order to appeal more to the teenage audience and to break their assumption of what a history course is supposed to look like.
Given that these materials were developed for public schools, I took into account that there would likely be a limited printing budget. For this reason, the design remained entirely grayscale, apart from the presence of an accent colour specific to each chapter, to allow for easy recognition and to streamline pairing between materials. This was intended to unify all of the different components, while still supporting the flexible modular structure.
The course is still in its final stages of production and will be made available to use for educational purposes on GPP’s website in 2019.