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VPM News 2019 Murrow Award Entry - Excellence In Social Media

Kehinde Wiley Statue Rumors of War
More than a thousand gathered outside of the VMFA for the unveiling of "Rumors of War" Tuesday.  Photo by Louise Keeton
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Partially Unveiled Rumors of War Statue
The unveiling lasted an additional 30 minutes as crews tried to maneuver the fabric out of the statue's hair. Photo by Louise Keeton
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Artist Kehinde Wiley looking up at his work
Artist Kehinde Wiley looking up at his work after the veil fully fell from the statue. Photo by Alyssa Johnson
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The statue Rumors of War by Kehinde Wiley features a contemporary African American person high on a pedestal riding a horse. As the former capital of the Confederacy, this depiction is in deep contrast to the Confederate monuments lining Richmond’s nearby streets. With the unveiling of this statue, VPM knew we must be at the center of the social media conversation around history, positionality and recontextualization. 

When designing the social media strategy we kept three questions in mind: How do we cover such an historic unveiling? How do we put such history into context? How can we create a space for productive and informed conversations?

By working closely with the news team, we designed pre, live and post coverage resulting in 150K reach and 2.5K engagements on social media. Pre-coverage included the re-airing of a documentary on Wiley and VPM’s digital short on the statue’s initial unveiling in New York City. For the unveiling in Richmond, we created a digital action plan which included a live blog, Twitter thread, Instagram story, and shared Facebook Live. The Instagram story included engagement elements to solicit viewer comments and share relevant facts. Following the unveiling our photographers created a Facebook photo album, which inspired additional engagement and learning.

As the country continues to grapple with how Confederate objects are displayed and memorialized in public spaces, comprehensive coverage on social media provides much needed context to the conversation.

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