1) What kind of services do you offer to your clients?
2) Which clients do you most often work with? What kinds of client requests drive your collaborations?
3) In general, did the current financial situation affect your roster of clients and your business?
4) How did you evolve after the advent of new forms of communication? What kind of strategies did you have to adopt?
1) Black Frame is a production, management and communications agency specializing in art and design. We work with our clients to translate their raw ideas into high-visibility global initiatives with long-term impact. Our international clientele includes artists, designers, museums, private foundations, galleries, national cultural organizations, media brands and multinational corporations.
2) Black Frame and Francesco Vezzoli have collaborated since 2007 to realize Vezzoli’s large-scale performances including Ballets Russes Italian Style: The Shortest Musical You Will Never See Again, starring Lady Gaga and the Bolshoi Ballet for MOCA’ s 30th anniversary gala in Los Angeles. On YouTube you can find the trailer for the performance created by Jonas Akerlund. In 2009, Black Frame directed the international communications for the Danish and Nordic Pavilions at the Venice Biennale in conjunction with artists Michael Elmgreen & Ingar Dragset, the Office of Contemporary Art Norway and the Danish Arts Council. Also last year, Black Frame collaborated with Cecilia Alemani and Elizabeth Dee to create the name, brand identity, communication and event platforms for X Initiative in New York. Black Frame has worked as a communications partner with Fondazione Prada for several years, focusing on international artist commissions such as Carsten Höller’s Double Club in London, John Wesley’s survey exhibition curated by Germano Celant in Venice, and the Rem Koolhaas-designed Prada Transformer in Seoul. In April 2006, Black Frame created Los Angeles Art Weekend, a new public arts festival that engages the local audience and visitors to the city with the vibrant L.A. cultural landscape.
3) Demand for Black Frame’s services increased in the wake of the financial crisis as many companies sought out our specialized creative perspective.
4) The most essential strategic part of our communications business is building in-depth, one-to-one personal relationships with creative and business leaders. This is at the core of everything we do. From there, we look at how to catalyze opportunities for our clients using all possible platforms. We embrace new digital technologies as well as classical modes of communication.
BLUE MEDIUM, INC.
1) We are essentially a public relations agency, but we also offer marketing strategies and advice to our clients. Developing key messages for a campaign, events and promotional ideas and social networking, we draw on our pool of talent (and those of our clients) to service the visual arts and architecture worlds. We pride ourselves on not automating our services and like the fact that each client has different marketing and PR needs.
2) We typically work with museums (more recently El Museo Del Barrio, Bard College’s Hessel Museum), foundations (Donald Judd), biennials (Venice and Prospect New Orleans), art fairs (Armory, Pulse), universities with art endeavors (SCAD, MIT and Tyler) and galleries. In the last couple of years we have also started representing architecture firms. While visual art is our focus, I found that some of my team joined me in being interested in architecture and design projects, so we have managed to parley this into the representation of some great architecture firms over the last couple of years (including Steven Holl and Olson Kundig). There is a lot of synergy between these two fields. I like the fact that the architects often have an admiration for the artists whose work inhabits the homes and institutions they design, while some of the artists and galleries we represent are very respectful of architects and treat their work as an integral part of the space rather than pure décor. In terms of requests that drive our collaboration with our clients, it’s half and half — much of the time we are fortunate that our clients have so many requests that we help them prioritize and determine what is best and most beneficial in terms of conveying their brand and messages. The rest of the time, a client has a project that we embrace and since we believe in it, it’s easy to position and promote. I also always make a point of asking my team if they are behind someone before we sign the contract. From Pulse Art Fair to our work with the US Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, I always ask my team if they like the project and get it. Otherwise, the energy to promote it simply isn’t there.
3) Our client base has been steady. We spoke to and worked with some clients to scale back our services if they had been hit by the economy, but we provide a service beyond media relation, so we have adapted to assist and advise some clients in other areas to maintain our relationships and be valuable during these rough times. Many of our clients have been long-term, including the Judd Foundation, Kaikai Kiki, Lehmann Maupin and Pulse. They trust us to the point where we have a terrific understanding of what their challenges have been and how we can help.
4) New forms of communication and social media outlets are definitely an important part of our strategy and outreach these days. While I feel too old at times to embrace and participate in these new platforms personally, I am fortunate to have a team who actively engages and understands its importance. We incorporate this media into our media strategies and plans. I have also been amazed over the last year or so that many people in our art universe are sometimes reacting and engaging with new forms of media more than the conventional printed forms. My only concern in this respect is that information and criticism is not vetted the way it used to be in the blogs, online forums and social media outlets. These voices are not always very well informed or very subjective. It troubles me that sometimes these outlets are considered as potent or relevant as established and well-versed art critics at the major newspapers and art periodicals. Can someone please set up a blog to make them more accountable? Oh, and PR people do read, or at least my guys do. It’s an occupational necessity, joy and even hazard.
HEYMANN RENOULT ASSOCIÉES
Sarah Heymann and Agnès Renoult
1) Heymann Renoult Associaées is a communications agency offering press and public relations services. A cultural communications agency created in 1989 by Sarah Heymann and Agnès Renoult, it has built up a reputation for experience and expertise based on over twenty years of activity. The agency works on projects in all disciplines of the cultural sphere as well as on projects in the social sphere, related to three main axes of activity: the environment, contemporary history, the luxury industry and the art of living. The agency provides effective and efficient communications, press and public relations services and has promoted over 1000 events both in France and internationally. In its offices close to the Louvre Museum, at the cultural heart of Paris, its dedicated full-time staff of ten works to promote quality events and maintains privileged regular contact with all those who make, decide and diffuse culture. Through various international collaborations, Heymann Renoult Associaées has developed strong working relationships with some of the best cultural communications agencies in New York, Berlin, Brussels, Milan and London, that allow the agency to work comfortably on international projects and events. Thanks to our commitment, regular follow-up, strategic approach and experience, we provide the best communications strategy to the project and the needs of our clients.
2) Heymann Renoult’s clients are mostly large state cultural institutions. In France the cultural sphere is mostly funded through state money. However, the agency also works with foundations, fairs or ‘salons,’ galleries and private collectors.
3) Without a doubt, the current economic crisis has affected the cultural sphere in France. Public funding has been cut considerably and, consequently, this cut has resulted in a drop in the budgets allocated to communication and PR. As for Heymann Renoult, this drop has been reflected in a tighter budget across our varying projects for 2009-2010.
4) Heymann Renoult has had its own internet site since 2004, consisting not only of a presentation of the agency, its strengths, references and staff, but also serves as a tool for the press as press kits and high-definition images of each of our projects can be downloaded. The agency also makes use of Facebook as a social networking and viral marketing technique.
NADINE JOHNSON & ASSOCIATES INC.
1) Supreme connectedness, intelligence in media outreach, crisis management, global reach, event production and casting, the best guest lists, impeccable taste, effectiveness and a powerful impact on the bottom line.
2) Our clients roster is one of our greatest assets, with clients in the U.S., Brazil, Russia, Turkey, India and China. We are very fortunate to have clients in every field of endeavor that people are interested in today: art, architecture, fashion, philanthropy, travel, media, entertainment, to name a few.
We collaborate with our clients on yearly events and press strategy; we create value with “out of the box” nonlinear thinking; we shape messages; we develop strategic partnerships; we organize launches. Every project and campaign is client-specific and created after due diligence.
3) The whole world was overdue for a cleansing… the crisis affected all of us financially but it had a positive impact in a way and made us more connected and focused on the bottom line and the creation of real value. Hopefully a new sense of integrity and moral compass will prevail.
4) The velocity and viral nature brought by the emergence of new/social media is the most exciting thing that ever happened to the business of communication.
The power has shifted from institutions to individuals; to be able to strategize and integrate new and traditional media and build a community around your clients through social media is very exciting, the rules are being rewritten as we speak, and it will be interesting to analyze the ‘traction’ once the economy recovers. We are really in the “eye of the storm”: a half year gap between old and new media that will further unfold.
URROZ PROYECTOS – UP –
1) Urroz Proyectos — UP — was created in 2005. We are a communication consulting company focused on contemporary art. We liaise with cultural agents — artists, curators, critics — while also encouraging the development of new audiences for actions in the domain of the visual arts. Our activities include advising collectors and institutions, organizing exhibitions and promoting cultural events.
2) Our market is mainly focused in Spain and Portugal, and our main clients are public institutions, foundations and art centers in Spain; also we work for private clients promoting art fairs in Spain and international foundations.
3) Yes, we had requests for services that could not be carried out because the institutions could not get financing from companies that previously gave funds to those kinds of projects. Also our fees have not increased considering the general economic situation. Nevertheless, our low structural costs, as a small company, allow us to survive in a constrained market.
4) We work through 2.0 communication strategies, and also we continue to work with the oldest and best form of communication: word of mouth.