Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum

What We Did

Launched Nature’s PlaySpace as a leading indoor play destination through grassroots marketing and earned media buzz.

The Result

Over 17.4 million impressions in under two months.

Reconnecting Chicago's families with nature.

Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum of the Chicago Academy of Sciences is Chicago’s oldest public museum and a popular Lincoln Park attraction for local and visiting nature enthusiasts, featuring exhibits, educational programs, events and more. The grand opening of Nature’s PlaySpace introduced an interactive indoor play area that connects the museum’s youngest visitors with nature year-round. The Nature Museum turned to Laughlin Constable PR to spread the word and inspire the next generation of nature champions.

For the museum, the 3,050-square-foot indoor attraction was its biggest investment in almost 20 years, and after years of planning, it was time to bring this exhibit to life. For us, this meant planning and executing a multi-tiered PR campaign in under two months.

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Introducing the Museum's largest investment in decades.

The aggressive timeline required an aggressive plan that would maximize impact while being flexible around construction deadlines and evolving priorities.  

We set out to boost earned media interest before Nature’s PlaySpace opened to the public by supporting the strategy from all angles: media coverage, collaboration with influencers and grassroots marketing.

To generate as much earned media coverage as possible, we started by extending invitations to media sources and providing photos and b-roll assets to sources unable to visit the PlaySpace. 

Key messages were included in 94% of earned coverage.

The quick timeline also meant that key messaging provided to these sources had to be consistent and sound. Our messaging tactics focused on the community and educational benefits of the Nature Museum and its new exhibit designed for children to explore elements of nature like the Great Lakes. To further emphasize education, we used this key messaging in interviews with the museum’s CEO, Erin Amico, to spotlight the research behind the self-curated PlaySpace.

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Leveraging what’s local.

To elevate awareness on social media, we carefully selected family-friendly influencers who were relevant to the area and target audience and coordinated visits for them to promote Nature’s PlaySpace.

The two influencers selected, Where’s Ruby Today and Sara Yaniga, had between 2,000 and 3,000 followers, with around or over 50% of their audience located in Chicago. Posts between the two accounts saw engagement rates between 1.8% and 2.62%, significantly higher than the 2022 Instagram average of 1.18%.

To further boost social chatter on opening day, museum-branded beaver headbands were created and distributed to visitors, deepening engagement with the Great Lakes theme and encouraging user-generated social content.

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Shout it from the sidewalks.

On top of earned media coverage, we used guerrilla marketing tactics. We literally took chalk to sidewalk to foster community interest among the museum’s target markets.  

Announcements for Nature’s PlaySpace—stenciled onto sidewalks with chalk—were strategically placed near schools, children’s boutiques and libraries, all within 3 miles of the museum.

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Results that won the race against the clock.

In less than two months, the LCPR campaign generated over 17.4 million impressions. And more than half of all earned media coverage hits were from digital or social media sources. 

Local coverage included media outlets like the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Block Club Chicago, Chicago Parent, three out of five local television stations and more.