Billy Graham Library
How do you use an event that celebrates the past to let others know about your future?
The dedication of the Billy Graham Library in 2007 was a remarkable opportunity to honor the ministry and legacy of one of the most admired men in the past century. However, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association did not want this building and its opening event to serve as simply a reminder of the past—but to be an ongoing “Crusade” that would continue the work Mr. Graham had been doing for the previous 60 years.
Knowing most media coverage would naturally focus on Mr. Graham’s previous achievements, our communications strategy heavily focused on ways to honor his past, while making sure the public knew the organization was as active as it had been at any point in its history. We also worked to make sure the Library was not mischaracterized as a museum, but rather a ministry for the future, as it was intended and designed to be.
Part of the execution of our thinking included intensive message development that focused on the organization’s growth and future plans—even though Mr. Graham had preached his final Crusade in 2005. We also held an advance media tour of the Library and the ministry’s headquarters for some 50 reporters, led by Franklin Graham.
It all culminated at the dedication ceremony attended by three living U.S. Presidents and covered by 240 members of the media, including 24 television outlets that broadcasted live from the event. ABC’s World News Tonight held their evening news on-site and nearly all of the country’s 25 largest newspapers ran stories. Most importantly, the vast majority of the coverage emphasized the Billy Graham Library as a vehicle that would further the future of the organization well beyond the lifetime of one man.