Each week I spend 10 minutes with someone from the cultural-sector-meets-digital and ask them about their career, opinions, and what’s on their radar.
This week I spoke with #CuratorBattle creator Millie Carroll.
Millie Carroll, Digital Communications Officer at York Museums Trust
My job is to get people exploring Yorkshire Museum Trust collections in fun and challenging ways.
☕ Tea or coffee?
I’m having green tea.
💼 About your career and where you are now: accidental or intentional?
Definitely accidental: I did a degree called Managing Performance, which was about the business side of theatre. It was about fundraising, arts marketing, stage directing, etc.
I wanted to go into theatre, and event management, so I volunteered at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park in their Events department for a couple of weeks. I absolutely loved it, and that made me think I wanted to work with museums. When I finished my placement with them, I pestered them for months to obtain a position there. After a couple of months, somebody from their marketing department got in touch about a 1-day a week position to sort out their image archive. I did that for about six months, and then stayed in the marketing team and helped out with updating their website, their filing… The position then evolved to a 3-day a week job when I graduated, and I became Marketing & PR Assistant. I absolutely loved it, and I couldn’t have asked for a better first proper first job.
So in the end, it wasn’t theatre, and it wasn’t events, but it was better than what I could have imagined.
From there, I worked at the Tetely Art gallery in Leeds, as a Marketing & Press Co-ordinator. That involved a mix of traditional marketing and digital marketing. It was my first time tweeting professionally, and doing social media for a gallery. I also launched their new website. I loved it!
I saw the job I do now advertised, and I decided to apply because I love social media and digital marketing, so I fell into it and honestly it was the best thing that could have happened.
📚 Describe your current job
I am Digital Communications Officer at York Museums Trust. This was a new role when I started, which was very exciting, because I could run with it and do things that had never happened at the Trust. Website and social had been run by different people but never really had a focus. When I started I tried being more playful, and then… Coronavirus happened! Within a couple of months in this new job, I found that digital was the only way to communicate with people, and suddenly that new role was a really important part of the Trust.
I run social media, manage the website, and also manage digital newsletters for all the parts of the Trust (York Castle Museum, the Yorkshire Museum, York Art Gallery and York Museum Gardens). It’s a lot of digital stuff, but at the same time it’s very exciting because it means I can do a bit of arts, a bit of history, even some garden content, etc…
Lockdown has meant that we’ve done a lot online, and we’ve actually had a lot of fun. The biggest thing I’ve ever done is probably #CuratorBattle, but we’ve also done “Judi Dench as objects in our collections” (and in January, “Bridgerton as objects in our collections”) we’ve done mad things! My job is to get people exploring Yorkshire Museum Trust collections in fun and challenging ways.
🤩 What are you working on right now that you’re particularly enjoying?
We’re in a planning stage because we’re exiting lockdown. Every week we publish the #LieToMe game on Twitter (where we ask people to lie about our objects), and we want to bring that from the digital realm to a physical presence (documented digitally of course). There are a few things like this that we are doing online, and we’re hoping to start planning more physical things.
Otherwise, I’ve been doing a “Museum clickbait”: we’re trying to replicate the traditional “clickbait” experience (where there’s a bad picture and cheesy headline) with our museum objects, which is fun and exciting. Clickbait is usually very negative so we’re trying to transpose it into a positive experience.
📣 What’s happening in the industry that’s on your radar?
TikTok: it’s been around for a while but some museums and galleries are doing brilliantly on there. Black Country Living Museum is phenomenal, and so is the Old Salem Museum in the US. It’s something we haven’t done yet, mainly because I haven’t been able to go in to the sites this year.
Some museums have found incredible results on that channel, and it’s a whole new audience to tap into (especially a younger one). Museum TikTok is going to take off soon, and I definitely want to be a part of it as soon as I can get into the museums and film some fun things…!
📖 Anything you’d recommend to read/watch/listen to?
I digest content in small quantities so newsletters is the way I do that: I recommend MuseumNext’s newsletter as they are excellent for all things digital; I love Alec Ward’s Digital Things because they’re nice digestible things; andMaxwell Museums.
Also, I’ve recently joined the GLAM Society on Clubhouse: it’s an engaging conversation twice a week, it’s quite in-depth.
💡 What advice would you give someone who would like to do what you do?
Social media is for everybody and can be by everybody. You don’t need to be in a marketing position to start exploring this world: do it personally, do things that you’re interested in personally. Create a podcast, create a TikTok account, you can build up a profile online that shows what you’re good at. If you want to make it your job afterwards, you’ll have a backlog of amazing skills to show. Anyone can do it, so get out there and try! Being social on social media is what every organisation should do, and it’s not a one-way stream of conversation, so do get involved.