Today I had a sex talk with a stranger.
Well, sort of. I met with the PR/marketing coordinator at the Museum of Sex this afternoon to get advice about the industry and internships. I’ve been on the fence between journalism and public relations recently, and this conversation complicated the debate.
He started by describing his day-to-day responsibilities. Sending press releases to publications is a large part of what he does, but certainly not everything. A big part of the press process is knowing your audience, obviously, but at an institution like the Museum of Sex has to be especially careful. Some newspapers, magazines and blogs write unfavorable pieces using the information provided in a release–the biggest risk of a press kit. But they also often reject photos. It sounded like a difficult task, promoting a museum that represents one of the most taboo subjects in society.
But the Museum of Sex is not a dirty place. It’s an institution that educates the public on the history of human sexuality, themes in international culture and the impact of sex on society. It’s a place that challenges what we know about the naughty deed. But that’s not what many media or big businesses believe. The museum is not allowed to advertise on MTA public transportation. It often receives mail for the “Museum of Socks” or “Museum of Sax,” from organizations who refuse to accept the organization’s real name.
Despite this resistance, the museum sees thousands of visitors a year and has more than 72,000 friends on Facebook. It hosts lectures and parties, another responsibility of the PR coordinator. The swanky OralFix Aphrodisiac bar below the gift shop, where I met with my new mentor, can be rented for parties and events.
I’ve been told not to be fooled into PR by thinking I’ll be mingling with important people, sipping cocktails. But that didn’t seem like all there was to promoting the Museum of Sex. It sounds like every day there are new challenges and tasks, all revolving around writing, relationships and marketing. Sounds good to me!