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Printing the Future: A Digital First for Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum

Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum's Awayzgoose: November 5-8, 2020

Hamilton Wood Type Museum virtual event with Brandlive

The Event

  • 4 days, 36 sessions
  • 25+ presenters
  • 8 featured partners and sponsors

The Success

  • 400% increase in scholarship volume
  • 500+ attendees
  • 3,800+ page views and counting

The challenge

Making the leap from an in-person to virtual event—while celebrating a hands-on art form that dates back two centuries

The solution

Fully branded virtual experience that immersed attendees in HWTM’s world, aided by hand-in-hand collaboration and support

The impact

Increases across the board—in attendance, scholarship funds, partnerships, and community engagement

Going “away” to keep the community together

For lovers of letterpress, the Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum (HWTM) is the art form’s epicenter, housing the world’s largest collection of wood type—including the pantograph that cut type 100 years ago as part of Hamilton Manufacturing, America’s largest and longest-standing wood type maker. 

The museum’s mission is to advance the understanding of printing and design heritage by documenting, archiving, and reproducing the history and images of American letterpress printing. A major part of fulfilling that mission is HWTM’s annual fundraising gala, Wayzgoose.

In the midst of 2020’s lockdowns, HWTM realized that in order for Wayzgoose to happen, it had to transform into Awayzgoose—a virtual experience that could carry the event to the letterpress community far and wide.

Enter Shoot the Moon Productions—and Brandlive

HWTM turned to their agency partner, Shoot the Moon Productions (STMP), to find a virtual platform that could make the gala feel as up close and personal as their in-person events. STMP began their search with 50 options, and in the end, Brandlive emerged with the magic combo of innovative tech, expert support, and creative spirit.  Learn how STMP owner JP Porter navigated the meticulous process of choosing an events partner.

With Brandlive on board, HWTM was ready to move into the world of virtual events for the first time.

Having a strong platform in Brandlive for this online event allowed us to continue our mission as a museum in such a hard year.... It felt like our community was here in the building.

-Stephanie Carpenter, Program Officer, Hamilton Wood Type Museum

Challenges Solved

  1. Totally customized design.

    At HWTM, aesthetics are everything. So their gala had to immerse audience members in the look and feel of the museum. Program Officer Stephanie Carpenter said, “The museum has one of the world’s largest collections of historic blocks and wood type that were used to print everything from newspaper headlines to billboards in the late 19th and 20th centuries. Visual elements are an important part of any event we do.”

    Using Brandlive’s ultra-customizable platform allowed HWTM’s design team to control exactly how Awayzgoose was branded. According to Carpenter, the gala’s lead designer “took full advantage of our ability to brand every nook and cranny on the platform. Each day had a different visual theme to help attendees visually recognize the change in days.”

    HWTM created an end-to-end branded experience for their gala. “Our design lead went above and beyond by creating social media elements, video interstitials, static ads for the online store, schedules, and more!” Carpenter reflected. “The Brandlive platform allowed us the ability to make changes before and during the event. Being able to really brand the event made it feel like ours.”

  2. Cross-team collaboration.

    A successful Awayzgoose called for seamless integration across multiple teams. Pitch-perfect coordination was crucial to building the virtual event—and Brandlive formed a hub to orchestrate it all.

    Brandlive Customer Success Manager (CSM) Kanchana Patrick took center stage in bringing everyone together—a cavalcade of creatives and stakeholders from HWTM and STMP, as well as the Brandlive team. “This kind of collaboration is what I’d hope for every event,” Patrick said,  “all the teams involved worked as a cohesive unit to take in platform and experience design suggestions and bring it to life with program elements.”

  3. First-timer support.

    For their first-ever virtual gala, HWTM needed to make the leap from IRL to online—and make it memorable. That’s where Brandlive’s friendly (and savvy) support came in.

    “We have a team that has worked together for many years, and Kanchana fit right in!” Carpenter said. “She is knowledgeable and friendly, and was ready to answer any question we had. I really appreciated that she coordinated the meetings and responded to emails so quickly.” 

    Once the gala got underway, HWTM had real-time visibility into multiple metrics so they could see who was attending and engaging. And post-event analytics allowed HWTM to track continued audience engagement with on-demand replays. Those metrics gave the team confidence as they watched the audience show up, settle in, and stick around even after the live presentations had ended.

It became clear early on that a silver lining of being online is that more people could experience the event. Since we had never hosted an online event of this scope, our goal was to double the number of attendees—which we achieved.

-Stephanie Carpenter, Program Officer, Hamilton Wood Type Museum

Big Wins

  1. Up, up, up with attendance.

    Like many brands entering the virtual space, HWTM was worried about how they could create an engaging experience in an online environment. “Pivoting to a digital conference was not ideal, since letterpress printing is such a tactile artform, and our conference benefits from learning and networking in-person,” Carpenter said. “However, it became clear early on that a silver lining of being online is that more people could experience the event. Since we had never hosted an online event of this scope, our goal was to double the number of attendees—which we achieved.”

  2. Skyrocketing scholarships.

    HWTM provides scholarships for attendees, but they can only offer a limited number most years. Carpenter explained, “The cost of attending, travel, and housing can be a hurdle for some, so we raise funds to help offset the conference cost.” Going from Wayzgoose to Awayzgoose allowed HWTM to quintuple their scholarship slots. “Usually, we provide 10 scholarships, but because of the lower price point for the event, we could provide 50 this year.”

  3. Ongoing education, on demand.

    Going virtual allowed HWTM to keep the party going well past last call with on-demand content—and amplify their mission. “There is so much online content, so making the event available to view again is really important,” Carpenter mused. “A large part of the museum’s mission is education, and this event is important for us to provide unique information to our constituents.”

  4. Meaningful connections.

    Carpenter pinpointed one of the biggest worries for virtual event organizers: creating connections. “In a normal year,” she said, “audience engagement and networking is a large part of the onsite conference.” So HWTM leveraged Brandlive’s features to enable those connections from a distance. “The chat function was really important to us. We arranged for a small army of volunteers to be online during each presentation to feed information into the chat and answer any questions.” 

  5. Building partnerships.

    HWTM tackled two big firsts with their 2020 conference: a virtual event and partnership with an outside partner, the American Printing History Association. “Their inclusion meant that we had a wide breadth of presentations,” Carpenter noted. “If we had canceled the event this year, we would not have been able to share such strong work by so many talented and knowledgeable individuals.” HWTM found that the online experience opened the door to important partnerships. “Having a strong platform in Brandlive for this online event allowed us to continue our mission as a museum in such a hard year.”

  6. Real community.

    In the move from in-person to online, Carpenter was keen to maintain the sense of camaraderie and connection HWTM’s events create—and Awayzgoose did just that. “It felt like our community was here in the building,” Carpenter reflected. “The mix of our team of staff and volunteers and the Brandlive team and platform almost made it feel like I was hanging out with our amazing community of letterpress printers, type lovers, graphic designers, history buffs, and storytellers.”

    At the end of the day, HWTM discovered that even a deeply tactile, hands-on art form like letterpress printing can feel meaningful in the virtual realm. “I am so thankful that STMP chose Brandlive to help us make Awayzgoose a reality,” Carpenter said. And of course, everyone at Brandlive is grateful to have been a part of HWTM’s gala success! 

The Brandlive platform allowed us the ability to make design changes before and during the event. Being able to really brand the event made it feel like ours.

-Stephanie Carpenter, Program Officer, Hamilton Wood Type Museum

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