To continue our series about the departments of the museum, today we are talking to Michael Bendure of the communications department.
Name: Michael Bendure
Job title: Director of Communication
Educational background: Bachelor of Arts degree in communication, emphasis in journalism, University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma
Why did you want to work in a museum? During my previous role as News Bureau Director at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma (my alma mater), I was chiefly responsible for writing tons and tons of press releases. Occasionally I was given the opportunity to write reviews about student art exhibitions and art shows in the university’s art gallery. This, combined with a lifelong love of visual and performing arts, piqued my interest to work in an arts environment. When the opportunity to work at the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art came about nearly five-and-a-half years ago, I leapt at the chance.
How is museum PR different from PR in other organizations? For one, there is ALWAYS something happening. Between amazing exhibitions, rotating permanent collection galleries, works on loan, incoming art gifts, multiple educational programs, and community and campus collaborations, the art museum stays hopping and has no shortage of news and information to report. It’s also a very creative environment by nature. One specific difference is that I get the opportunity to work with multiple students. For example, this spring, I have been supervising six student interns at once.
What kinds of publications do you oversee for the museum, and why are these publications important? I oversee the majority of all external (and sometimes internal) forms of communication about the museum. This includes the obvious things like press releases, advertisements, social media, and monthly electronic newsletters, as well as exhibition-specific materials such as gallery guides and the occasional catalogue. Each of these publications serves a different purpose or addresses a different audience, so it’s important to maintain as much consistency as possible with regard to writing styles and museum and university practices. Every form of communication says something about the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, whether directly or implied, and my hope is to continually offer accurate, positive information about what makes the FJJMA an amazing museum.
Describe what your typical day looks like. I can honestly say that every day is different – which is why I wear comfortable shoes. Some days I am stuck behind my computer and barely interact with another human for 8 hours. Some days I barely touch the keyboard and am on my feet giving guest tours or taking photographs. I spend a lot of time managing media relations – for example, answering media inquiries and requests, such as image and content needs or scheduling interviews. From writing to editing to photographing to setting up sound systems and more, I wear many hats. I’ve learned to enjoy the rare quiet times and be ready to jump at a moment’s notice. Just because the calendar says the day is clear doesn’t mean it won’t all change in an instant!
What is your favorite part of your job? I think my favorite thing is working with great people, in the museum, in the media, and in the community. I am fortunate to be part of a museum staff that feels very much like family most of the time. I have made some important friendships, so coming to work often doesn’t feel like “work” so much as another day helping make this unique organization run at full steam. It also doesn’t hurt to be surrounded by incredible, changing artwork all the time.