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Archives Mean Money: How to Make the Most of Archives for Public Relations Purposes The Yapi Kredi B

The American Archivist, Vol. 72 (Spring / Summer2009): 197-213

 

Archives Mean Money: How to Make the Most of Archives for Public Relations Purposes
The Yapi Kredi Bank Example [*]

Bekir Kemal Ataman

 

Abstract

Most archivists face the challenge of justifying their existence, and this challenge is especially difficult in a corporate setting. To promote archives and affirm their value to the organization, archivists can use techniques developed by the public relations industry, especially the "commercial equivalent" concept. The archivists at Yapi Kredi Bank (YKB), Istanbul, Turkey, used this method to show that a corporate archives can create surplus value of up to a million dollars a year. Furthermore, attaching an archives to a public relations department can bring other benefits, albeit with unusual challenges.

 

Background

Banking in Turkey dates back to the nineteenth century, but these early banks were founded either by foreign capital or the state. Yapi Kredi Bank was the first nationwide private bank in Turkey and has led the banking industry there since its founding in 1944. Its first innovation was its lively advertising campaigns, which contrasted with the dull advertising announcements of its predecessors and competitors. Yapi Kredi Bank’s advertising campaigns, still known for their creativity, have been the subject of many studies on Turkish advertising history [1] in schools of journalism. Among the innovations it brought to Turkish banking are the first use of computers, online systems, consumer loans, credit cards, account access cards, and ATMs. [2] However, Yapi Kredi Bank’s biggest contribution to Turkish social life is its interest in cultural activities, many of which it organizes and sponsors. Yapi Kredi Bank introduced the first children’s theater, children’s movie, printing press using rotogravure technology, folklore competition, color movie, photographic competition, multimedia show, and publications on compact disc. In 1945, Kazim Taskent, the bank’s founder, established a publishing venture and a journal called Dogan Kardes, named in honor of his eight-year-old son who lost his life in a mountaineering accident in Switzerland. Dogan Kardes, a Yapi Kredi subsidiary, was the source of educational publications for children for many decades, becoming a common denominator of several generations. This interest in publishing expanded, and Yapi Kredi Bank published hundreds of books until 1984, when it decided to turn the venture into a subsidiary company. Yapi Kredi Yayincilik, taking advantage of its strong financial backing, has become the leader in the Turkish publishing sector. Today, it publishes over a hundred books every year and makes a significant contribution to Turkish literary and cultural life. [3] Yapi Kredi Bank is also known in the Turkish private sector for its leadership in supporting fine arts. The bank established many art galleries around the country, starting a tradition among Turkish banks of sponsoring and/or organizing such entities. In the 1980s, YKB organized festivals of performing arts, and other Turkish banks soon imitated them. Yapi Kredi festivals became very popular, and, in 1996, the bank decided to organize them as a subsidiary too. The new company was named Yapi Kredi Kultur Sanat Yayincilik (YKKSY), unifying the cultural and publishing activities of Yapi Kredi under a single organization. [4]

 

Archives and PR Department Partnership at YKB

For its fiftieth anniversary, the bank decided to document its contribution to Turkish economic and social life. In 1994, the Department of Advertisement and Public Relations contracted with outside archivists to establish an archives. The project team, under the supervision of the author, collected all available documentation relating to the bank’s corporate social responsibility activities, and arranged, described, and prepared a finding aid system for them. While the project team was busy developing a "computer aided description" system to manage the 80 linear meters of records, which lacked a proper arrangement system, [5] the bank started to take advantage of its heritage investment, even before the archives was fully operational. From the beginning, the archives team collaborated closely with the public relations department of the bank because, first, the department employed the project team; second, almost all materials delivered to the project team were the records of the department; and finally, the staff of the department made good use of the archives. The project team concluded its work in the first weeks of 2000. The bank then established an archives department to sustain the project and employed two members of the project team on a full-time basis. The new unit was named the Yapi Kredi Bank Archives Museum, and it reported directly to the head of the PR department. In short, a mutually beneficial relationship developed between the PR department, which made extensive use of the material in the archives, and the archives, which benefited from the publicity and use. The relationship provided the archives a firm ground for survival, especially during and after a large group of companies in Turkey bought the bank in 2004. The new administration of the bank has not used the archives as much as the previous owners did, but the situation is improving as they become more familiar with the wealth of material there. The examples in this paper date from the previous administration. Meanwhile, the bank’s publishing subsidiary, Yapi Kredi Kultur Sanat Yayincilik, negotiated with bank archivists for help in caring for its archives. The negotiation resulted in a compromise, in which the subsidiary employed another archivist to be supervised by the bank’s archivists.

 

How Can Archives Benefit a Corporation?

 

Intangible Benefits

The archives profession needs to demonstrate that archives can contribute to organizational image and that they are a means to explain and justify continuity and change. [6] An archives can enhance an organization’s reputation among opinion leaders in government, the media, and heritage sectors, but it can also increase general public awareness of the organization’s heritage activity as part of its organizational social responsibility program. [7]

 

Tangible Benefits

To promote archives and affirm their value, archivists traditionally compile statistics of users and documents to measure their performance. While data on research requests, reference questions answered, and collections processed are meaningful to track levels of activity, business-related results are needed to generate long-term support for both personnel and finances. When reporting on activities and projects, archivists should emphasize the benefit of the archives to the business. Other departments typically prepare annual business plans with projections on sales increases, revenue growth, and increases in market share. Archival departments can adopt similar measures of work output by establishing measurable objectives that business people can understand and evaluate. To succeed in business, the archivist must think like a business person and manage strategically. [8] The public relations profession has developed an accepted formula for evaluating results from publicity programs. Newspaper, magazine, radio, and television coverage of an event is assigned a value based on the costs of purchasing advertising in the same media. [9] Archivists in the public sector may not need to measure media coverage, but colleagues in the private sector can use this opportunity to gain recognition when stories from the archives mean that a company does not have to purchase expensive advertising space or airtime. In some cases, it would be impossible to buy such attention from the media. Businesses must understand that exploiting their cultural assets can enhance brand value and contribute to the bottom line. [10]

 

Methodology

Newspaper, magazine, radio, and television coverage of an event has a commercial equivalent, which is calculated by assigning a value based on the costs of purchasing advertising in the same media. Media have different tariffs for advertising space or time, depending on the circulation of a newspaper or journal, or the audience of a radio or television channel. These tariffs differ within the same media depending on several factors. For television, the simplest criterion is the time the commercial is broadcast. For example, prime-time hours are more expensive than other hours. So, if the evening news covers an event, its commercial equivalent is much higher than if it was broadcast at 3:00 a.m. Similarly, broadcasting such coverage over cable, satellite, or the Internet, in addition to traditional outlets, raises the value. The case for print media is also complicated. Different pages have different tariffs for each centimeter per column because, most of the time, certain pages appear throughout the country, but other pages change depending on local interest. Similarly, colored items have a higher value than black-and-white ones. If a given story covers other events in addition to the event organized by the archives, the commercial equivalent is calculated on the percentage of coverage that relates to the event. Normally, a news story has a greater effect than a commercial, so it is theoretically worth more, but because it is impossible to calculate the intangible difference, it is neglected in the calculation. If the media coverage is negative, its net effect is a loss and its commercial equivalent is deducted from the total. However, keeping track of all news published or broadcast is easier said than done. Broadcasts are especially difficult to measure because once they are over, it is almost impossible learn their duration. Taping a broadcast is the only way to measure it properly, but unless the broadcast organization informs the archives that its story will be shown, or unless the archives tapes everything, the archives cannot measure it. Fortunately, commercial companies do this service for a fee, but getting them to calculate the commercial equivalent of the media coverage might cost more. If the parent organization subscribes to one of these services, all the better. However, it is good practice to track media coverage inhouse, too, since these services may miss items occasionally and the archivist will get a clearer picture of the coverage and a more accurate calculation of its commercial equivalent. Commercial image banks form established markets in each country by leasing or selling images. The average costs these companies charge give an idea about the market value of an image purchased for publication. Depending on local tax laws, it may even be possible to write off the price of images used from internal sources such as archives as costs.

 

Assumptions

The cost of preparing an event or exhibition for public relations purposes is usually balanced against its media coverage value. The program can be either in the red or the black. However, in the case of Yapi Kredi Bank, it was not possible to obtain a clear accounting of these costs because the parent company handled all the public relations work, and the archives project team did not have access to the cost figures. Furthermore, even the PR department might not have been able to calculate all the costs involved, since the bank’s PR employees did all the preparatory work, including graphic design and production and mounting exhibitions in the bank’s own exhibition halls around the country. So, these costs were not available in Yapi Kredi’s case, and the figures in the next section cover the gross gains only, not the net gains after subtracting costs of preparing events or exhibitions. Because the archivist of the subsidiary reported to the archivists of the bank, once the archives of the subsidiary was under control, it was possible to calculate the commercial equivalent of photographs used from those archives for cultural publications too.

 

Results

The bank started taking advantage of its investment in its heritage as soon as material became available and even before the project team had completed its work.

 

Photographs

The first and most common way the archives were put to use for public relations purposes at Yapi Kredi Bank was, of course, for illustrating and researching publications. In addition to books, the bank’s subsidiary, YKKSY, publishes several literary and cultural journals, and the archives supplies images to them on a regular basis. The bank also has its own in-house journal for which the archives supplies images and supplementary material regularly. In addition, annual reports and calendars also use the collection, and the archives also both sells and gives away free copies of images and film footage to media in return for publicity. Apart from the photographs documenting its own activities, the bank bought the collection of photojournalist Selahattin Giz for an encyclopedia published by YKKSY. [11] This collection of some 35,000 images documents the first seventy-five years of the Turkish Republic and contains images of all aspects of Turkish political, economic, and social life including some 2,700 images relating to Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, founder of the Turkish Republic. This collection was transferred to the archives only after the publication team had finished working with it, but it was put to use immediately, even before it was properly listed or counted. Although the project team did not know how much was paid for this collection, it was possible to estimate its commercial equivalent by counting the number of photographs used in the encyclopedia and multiplying this by US $150, the average cost of an image in the Turkish market. Just for the 1,590 photographs used in the encyclopedia, the initial return on investment is estimated to be $ 238,500. After the whole collection was listed, it was used for preparing some exhibitions and documentaries, which brought in a lot of media coverage. In 2000, the commercial equivalent of photographs used for in-house publications by YKB totaled $1,800, and those given to journalists free of charge, in return for acknowledgment, amounted to $ 1,500. Unfortunately, no record of photographs used by the bank’s outside advertising agency was kept during this period. In 2001, trying to make the most of its heritage investment, the bank sold images to several customers for $6,700. The equivalent of photographs used for in-house publications by Yapi Kredi Bank in that year totaled $1,050. Most interesting perhaps, YKB sent a gift of ninety framed photographs of Ataturk to the president of the Turkish Republic. Together with the images given free of charge to journalists, the commercial equivalent of these gifts reached $21,600. Unfortunately, it was not possible to keep track of any of the media coverage received in return for the gifts during this year. In 2002, because of an economic crisis in the previous year, the bank reverted to internal sources for in-house publications and made heavy use of photographs from the archives in an amount commercially equal to $13,800. For advertising campaigns based on the bank’s history, its outside agency made use of photographs worth another $16,800. Yapi Kredi Bank gave away fewer images in 2002, probably because of the economic crisis. The commercial equivalent of photographs given to journalists that year was worth $10,650. The number of photographs from the bank’s archives used by the publishing subsidiary for literary publications was worth $8,400. In 2003, the commercial equivalent of photographs used by the advertising agency of the bank was $35,700, and those given away to journalists were worth $ 67,150. Image sales realized $3,600. With a dedicated archivist in place at the publishing subsidiary, it was possible to keep track of and calculate the commercial equivalent of images used in cultural publications. The total in the publishing subsidiary amounted to $28,950, whereas those used by the bank itself for its in-house publications were worth $2,700, besides the $40,000 worth of Ataturk photographs used in the CD-ROM. The total commercial equivalents of photographs used for literary publications were $10,050, $26,400, and $72,150 in 2004, 2005, and 2006 respectively, whereas those used for in-house publications totaled $4,650 and $11,250 in 2004 and 2005 respectively. The bank did not use any photographs for in-house publications in 2006 but made use of its film collections instead, using $9,400 worth of film footage to be shown during an exhibition. Photograph sales in the same period amounted to $4,125 in 2004, $2,190 in 2005, and $3,470 in 2006. In 2004, the bank’s advertising agency borrowed $44,100 worth of images to use in its campaigns and another $48,600 worth in 2005. Similarly, the bank’s film production agency used $83,400 worth of images in 2004 for a documentary it had prepared for the sixtieth anniversary of the bank, to be shown to branch managers during an annual meeting. The commercial equivalent of photographs given to journalists in return for acknowledgment was worth $25,350, $22,650, and $48,750 in 2004, 2005, and 2006 respectively.

 

Video Productions

The bank also produced audiovisual productions for public relations using the archives. Some of these were screened for the public and the media at specially organized shows, whereas some were produced solely to broadcast to customers at branches over closed-circuit televisions. Some of the audiovisual productions were also broadcast on television, bringing in a lot of free media coverage.

1. Halici Kiz

In 1953, the bank sponsored and owned Halici Kiz, (The Carpetmaker Girl) the first color movie produced in Turkey. The archives held the only existing copies of the film, which were restored and then copied onto video, first for specially organized performances to the public and the media and then for broadcasting on television in 1998. Although the project team tracked the media coverage for related archives-based public relations events in 1998, the team was new to this activity and could not follow any of the television broadcasts or calculate the commercial equivalents of some of the newspaper coverage. Those that they could calculate amounted to some $25,000. In 2000, Halici Kiz was shown again. By then, however, the staff of the archives department was attached to the public relations department, which had been using the services of a media tracking agency. This made calculating the commercial equivalent of media coverage in newspapers of three audiovisual productions, the film, an exhibition of Ataturk photos, and a documentary on a famous football player considerably easier. The commercial equivalent amounted to about $225,000. The archivists also learned the basic figures used in calculating broadcast coverage, which were $65 per second for prime time and $35 per second for off-prime-time hours. If the coverage was subtitled, then the rate was $25 per second for prime time and half of that for off-prime-time hours. It was, however, still difficult to access the figures for coverage of the film in television broadcasts in addition to the coverage of all the activities in the evening news. In 2003, Halici Kiz was broadcast twice on a channel with the bank’s emblem as a subtitle in a corner of the screen, and the media tracking agency estimated the commercial equivalent to be worth about $372,000. This trend continued in 2004 with nineteen repeat performances of Halici Kiz, five at prime time, bringing in broadcast coverage worth of an incredible $3,534,000 plus $7,500 worth on a feature program about Halici Kiz .

2. Football Matches

A second group of audiovisual productions comprised films of football matches. Before television was introduced into the country in 1968, the bank filmed important football matches to show at movie theaters as part of the commercials before the actual films started. These are the only moving images to document Turkish football history. Needless to say, they are in demand for use at specially organized performances, for broadcasting on television, and for exhibitions. The major public relations activity in 1999 based on archival material was a documentary on Turkish football history. Again, the project team tracked the media coverage for these events, but in the same limited way it had for the film Halici Kiz in 1998. The commercial equivalent of press clippings that could be tracked and calculated in 1999 amounted to some $23,000. The team could not follow any of the television broadcasts, but knew that in addition to the coverage on evening news, a few channels featured programs, all at prime time and each lasting between twenty to fifty minutes. From the figures supplied by a media tracking agency in 2003, we know that the commercial equivalent of a feature program on television at prime time can amount to a few hundred thousand dollars, depending on its duration. In 2000, the YKB outsourced preparation of a documentary on a famous football player. In 2002, a television channel featured a documentary on the history of football, comprising five episodes. Yapi Kredi Bank archives supplied plenty of footage to this documentary, in return for acknowledgment, plus probably an unknown sum of money. It was not possible to calculate the commercial equivalent of this series, either. In 2003, the bank outsourced preparation of another feature program, a documentary commemorating the hundredth anniversary of a Turkish football club. It was not possible to assess the commercial equivalent of this feature program, but its coverage by television news was worth $6,300. In 2004 and 2005, the bank gave away free film footage from its collection of football matches to contribute to the hundredth anniversary celebrations of two other football clubs, in return for acknowledgment. The commercial equivalent of these films was worth $12,900 in 2004 and $15,175 in 2005. Those given away in 2004 brought some free media coverage on television too, but it was not possible to calculate its commercial equivalent.

3. Other Productions

In an attempt to maintain its position in the market after the economic crisis that hit Turkey in 2000, the bank made heavy use of its archives. In 2002, it decided to use its historical roots in its advertising campaigns. In addition to television commercials promoting its history, it prepared a documentary about its history, which was broadcast over closed-circuit televisions in all branches of the bank, and it received media coverage on the television news, amounting to a commercial equivalent of $88,000. Another documentary about the bank’s history was made in 2004, for in-house broadcasting to branch managers during an annual meeting.

 

Exhibitions

Exhibitions are another form of public relations that use the archives. In 1998, one of the bank’s art galleries organized an exhibition, which used posters of art exhibitions organized during the previous ten years at the central art gallery, bringing in newspaper coverage worth some $39,000. Unfortunately, as noted above, it was not possible to track broadcast coverage of events during this period. An exhibition of Ataturk photographs in 2000 was selected from the photojournalist’s collection bought two years before. With a wealth of popular material ready to be used, in 2002, an exhibition was prepared on the history of Turkish football. This exhibition and the documentary on the bank’s history received a little over $288,000 worth of media coverage in the newspapers. The year 2003 was a time of recovery from the crisis, and the bank continued to mine the archives for public relations, although the material used were essentially the same. The first of the public relations activities in this year was an exhibition and a subsequent slideshow with photographs from the photojournalist’s collection. From the same collection, the bank prepared another exhibition highlighting Ataturk’s interest in cultural life. The newspaper coverage of these amounted to $71,800. In the same year, the YKB also prepared a CD-ROM of Ataturk photographs, using the equivalent of $40,000 worth of images, for distribution by upper management to an unknown audience. However, it is not difficult to guess that media representatives made up at least part of it. Once the whole collection was listed, the bank increased its usage of this resource and organized three exhibitions, in 2004, bringing in newspaper coverage worth $62,170 and TV broadcast coverage worth $141,670. The media tracking agency kept records of broadcasts on radio too in this year, which amounted to an additional $2,050. The Ataturk photographs continued their popularity, and the bank organized a different exhibition based on them in almost every year that followed. The newspaper coverage of these was worth $25,840 in 2005 and $11,160 in 2006, whereas TV broadcast coverage was worth $175,700 and $73,750 respectively.

 

The Archives as a Center of Attraction

Thanks to closer contact with the media over the years, the archives itself started becoming another center of attraction and several feature articles began appearing in newspapers about the archives and its holdings, bringing in a media coverage worth of $31,350 in 2004 and $39,000 in 2005.

 

Analysis

 

Benefits of Calculating Surplus Value Created by the Archives

We used a very simple way of calculating the surplus value created by the archives. For photographs, we used a market value of $150 for each image published in one form or another and $1,000 per minute of film footage. For media coverage, we used its commercial equivalent. Both are similar to the ways PR professionals calculate such figures. We delivered these estimates to upper management in detailed year-end reports. Like most of their colleagues elsewhere, archivists in Turkey face the challenge of justifying their existence. In times of crisis, archivists are among the first to be let go. In the case of Yapi Kredi Bank, the newspaper coverage figures for the first two years of the archives (see Table 1) were calculated by the project team, who were outsiders at the time. Showing management the return on their investment, even on a limited scale, enabled us to extend our contract and increase our budget, including increased salaries. Furthermore, when the project was over, bank management did not hesitate to establish the archives on a permanent basis, although their initial intent was only to document YKB’s first fifty years. They employed two members of the project team on a full-time basis and kept them on throughout the economic crisis that hit the country soon after their employment. Because the bank had established its rich heritage in the public’s mind through the archives, the bank survived the crisis with relative ease. Because of tax debts incurred by the other companies of its major owners, however, the government confiscated YKB in mid-2002 and appointed a new administrative board. The new board carried on with the same public relations policies and made good use of the archives. After 2004, however, when the membership of the administrative board changed, this trend slowed down and came to a halt in October 2006, when the government sold the bank to another group, which merged it with their own small bank. With a different management philosophy and corporate culture, the new administration cut many positions. Although the archivists were potentially among the first to be fired, because of their ability to document the archives’ value in terms the new management could understand, they managed to affirm their position under the new administration too. It is yet unclear what the new owners will do with the bank.

 

 

Table 1.


 
1998
 
1999
 
2000
 
2001
 
2002
 
2003
 
2004
 
2005
 
2006
 
Exhibitions - newspaper coverage
 
>39,000
 

 
?
 
?
 
>288,000
 
71,800
 
62,170
 
25,840
 
11,160
 
- broadcast coverage
 
News
 

 
?
 
?
 
News?
 
?
 
141,670+
2,050(r)
 
175,770
 
73,750
 
Film prod.s - newspaper coverage
 
>25,000
 
>23,000
 
~ 225,000
 
?
 
?
 
?
 

 
-
 

 
- broadcast coverage News News
+
Feature
News
+
Feature
News? >88,000 +
Feature
>6,300+
372,000+
Feature
3,534,000
+
7,500(f)
-  
Archives - newspaper coverage             31,350 39,000  
Photos used - literary pub.s 238,500  8,400  28,950 10,050 26,400 72,150
- in-house pub.s -
 
-
 
1,800
 
1,050
 
13,800
 
2,700+ 40,000
 
4,650
 
11,250
 

 
- advert. agencies - - ? - 16,800 35,700 44,100
+83,400
48,600  
sold - - - 6,700 - 3,600 4,125 2,190 3,470
journalists (free)  -
 
-
 
1,500 21,600 10,650 67,150 25,350 22,650 48,750
Films used in-house 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
9,400
journalists (free) 
 

 
 
 

 

 
12,900+
News

15,175


 

TOTALS 

>302,500 

>23,000 

>226,800

>29,350

>323,650

>628,200

>3,963,315

366,875

218,680 

All figures are in US dollars

 

 

Cautions about Valuations

Valuations such as these help archivists affirm their position. However, they are not enough on their own, so archivists need to employ other means of selling the profession. [12] Another word of caution relates to costs involved with such productions, some of which can be quite expensive. In our case, the PR department assumed most of them, so they were free of charge, as far as we were concerned. If the archives is part of the PR department, such costs can be more easily covered.

 

Advantages of Working with a Public Relations Department

The relationship between the archives and the public relations department at Yapi Kredi Bank has been fruitful from the beginning.

 

The Material

One of the biggest factors contributing to the effectiveness of this relationship is that all the material identified at the beginning of the project consisted of the records of the advertising and public relations department. The project team soon discovered that public relations material is great fun to work with. First, the material comprises almost all formats that one might encounter in an archives: from loose sheets of correspondence to bound volumes; from sound recordings, in the form of reel tapes, cassette tapes, CD-ROMs, minicassettes, and so on to posters of various sizes; from moving images, in the form of 16 and 35 mm films and videotapes in all formats, to books and journals; from threedimensional objects to a variety of ephemera, such as invitation cards, menus, and the like; from newspaper clippings to private archives collections. Second, the documents have "character." Although the majority are advocacy materials, customer complaints among the records give a chance to see both sides of issues. The collection also includes a number of competitor analyses; although this function is sometimes assigned to sales or marketing, public relations departments usually keep track of competitors’ media coverage. Evidence of where the organization fits within the broader market adds another dimension to the character of these records. Finally, annual reports, typically prepared by the public relations department for shareholders, carry summary information about the whole organization, providing cumulative information in a single source. The visual nature of a great portion of the material is particularly exciting. This makes it easy to find pieces that attract people’s interest, leading to wider use of the materials. If archives are defined as records kept permanently so that they can be used repeatedly, the public relations department is a good place to turn that definition into reality. If "records should earn their keep," they accomplish that mission in the public relations department. Thus, the archives of a public relations department can be most rewarding for an archivist wishing to satisfy his or her professional appetite.

 

The People

However, it is not only fun to work with the material. Working with public relations people can be equally enjoyable. First, they are creative, especially if the department handles advertising as well as public relations. They can help design in-house advertising campaigns to promote archives to the parent organization. Second, they see the value of archives because they recognize that its activities bring in a return on investment. Third, they understand the concept of intangible benefits because their daily work is based on intangible concepts such as corporate image and corporate culture.

 

The Department

Working through a public relations department succeeded very well in this case. First, although the department is a staff function, rather than a line function, at YKB and in Turkish organizations generally, it has a prestige that many other departments envy. Because of the many corporate social responsibility projects it managed from the foundation of the company, it is the bank’s showcase. Second, these departments often have generous budgets, especially if they carry the advertising function. Archival budgets seem like peanuts in comparison, so getting them approved may be easier in organizations where the archives unit is attached to the public relations department. And, finally, PR departments make the greatest use of archives, giving the archivist a chance to prove the value of the investment.

 

Difficulties of Working with a Public Relations Department

 

Formats of the Materials

However, working with a public relations department and its materials is not without pitfalls. The first is the formats of the materials. The variety of formats, which makes the job of an archivist so much fun, at the same time leads to some big challenges. Finding suitable housing for this variety of materials is one of these challenges; creating suitable environments to preserve such a variety is another.

 

Structure of the Materials

Another challenge relates to the structure of the materials. As a service function, public relations caters to the whole of the organization. The public relations department announces any achievement by any department within the parent organization. So, the materials created by the public relations department relate to all departments within the parent organization. Sometimes they even include private archives collections. Faced with this challenge, the project team at Yapi Kredi Bank arranged the materials of the public relations department according to the corporate structure, rather than by internal series. So, even though it belonged to a single department, the Advertisement and Public Relations Department fonds had to be analyzed and its arrangement adapted, within itself, according to the provenance system of the whole organization. In a similar fashion, documents relating to subsidiaries and private archives collections had to be dealt with as if such entities were separate corporations.

 

File versus Item Level

Another challenge concerns the need to retrieve documents piece by piece. It is quite common to face a request for a single document or a poster, for example, when dealing with public relations staff. One may have to describe every document one by one, making the whole job extremely time consuming and tedious.

 

Appraisal

Perhaps the biggest challenge is appraisal. A great percentage of records created by a public relations department tend to have permanent value because of the information they carry. While it may be feasible to keep at most 5 percent of all records created in other departments, it is not easy to apply this metric to records of a public relations department, where the percentage retained can easily reach 40 or 50 percent.

 

Maintaining Trust

Because we found that most of the materials had to be described individually, the project took an enormous amount of time. The amount of work involved does not become clear until most of the materials are input into a database and the first finding aids start to appear. Although people began to use the materials before this phase is completed, they did not grasp the extent and usefulness of the materials until processing was completed. At this point, preparing a few information tools that become "best sellers" within the parent organization can be of great help. For the Yapi Kredi Bank, we created a chronology consisting of two volumes; a bibliography of books published by the bank, again comprising two volumes; and a book on the Firsts of Yapi Kredi Bank. Academic articles describing the whole process and its achievements can also be of help. Popular articles are used for publicity, and their contributions can be calculated using the commercial equivalents. The need to maintain trust in the system is crucial, as all of these tools depend on progress in identifying and processing records. Archivists must build personal networks in the parent organization to look for opportunities. The Yapi Kredi Bank project team hit the spot when the unit responsible for Yapi Kredi festivals decided to become a member of the International Festivals Union. The union asked for documentation about a minimum of five festivals organized in the past, but the unit had access to records relating to only two festivals. Staff members looked for this material for more than two months until only a fortnight remained before the deadline. One complained about the situation during a coffee break to a member of the project team. Surprised that the staff of the festivals unit was unaware of what the project team next door had been doing for the past four years, the archives served their need within a matter of seconds. Because of such successes, staff members turn to the archives at YKB to fulfill their information needs before looking anywhere else, including their own drawers!

 

Conclusion

The general public values archives as documents because they are evidence of the rights of people, organizations, or nations. However, the public does not understand the importance of archives as organizations that take care of those documents or of archivists as people who facilitate their use. Public relations is a way to change this perception and provide tools to help archivists promote their parent organizations to the public, their profession to in-house users, and archives as part of the collective memory of the nation and the world. Archivists can recognize the tangible benefits of media coverage and learn to measure their commercial equivalents. It is time for archivists to make good use of this for their own cause, because the surplus value created by both media coverage and use of visual items can reach levels unimagined by many archivists. The archives project at Yapi Kredi Bank is a living example that created an estimated surplus value of more than $1,843,000 within a period of six years. When one considers that arrangement and description activities were still incomplete during the first two years of this period, that recession dogged another year, and that many of the television broadcasts could not be followed and calculated, it is not difficult to estimate that under normal conditions this figure could easily reach a million dollars every year. No matter how much challenge it poses for an archivist, working with a public relations department is worth the effort. It can bring monetary gains to its parent institution and great professional satisfaction for the archivist.

 


  • [*] Revised version of a paper delivered at the 15th International Congress on Archives, “Archives, Memory, and Knowledge,” Vienna, Austria, 23–29 August 2004.
  • [1] See, for example, Yildirim Ozcan, "Reklamin Evrimi" ("Evolution of Advertisement"), Macro (February 1997): 96–97.
  • [2] See http://www.yapikredi.com.tr/en-US/investorRelations/corporate_information/our_history.aspx, accessed 12 November 2008.
  • [3] "Yayincilik" means publishing. See http://www.ykykultur.com.tr/english/default.asp, accessed 5 December 2008.
  • [4] See http://www.ykykultur.com.tr/english/default.asp, accessed 12 November 2008.
  • [5] For details, see Bekir Kemal Ataman, "Automating Yapi Kredi Bank Archives—A Case Study," OCLC Systems and Services 16, no. 2 (2000): 144–50, available at http://www.archimac.org/BKACV/Articles/ OCLC.spml, accessed 21 July 2004.
  • [6] Alison Turton, "Public Relations Uses of Business Archives," in Managing Business Archives , ed. Alison Turton (Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann, 1991), 411.
  • [7] David Hay, "BT’s Connected Earth: A New Model for Safeguarding a Corporate Heritage Collection," Business Archives: Principles and Practice no. 87 (May 2004): 59–60.
  • [8] Philip F. Mooney, "Modest Proposals: Marketing Ideas for the Expansionist Archives," in Advocating Archives: An Introduction to Public Relations for Archivists , ed. Elsie Freeman Finch (Chicago: Society of American Archivists and London: Scarecrow Press, 1994), 88–91.
  • [9] Mooney, "Modest Proposals," 98–99.
  • [10] Turton, "Public Relations Uses of Business Archives," 410; Hay, "BT’s Connected Earth," 48, 60.
  • [11] Cumhuriyet’in 75. Yili Ansiklopedisi , 3 vols. (Istanbul: Yapi Kredi, 1998).
  • [12] Archival literature is quite rich on these matters. For examples, see Advocating Archives; special issue of American Archivist on "Archives and Business Records" 60 (Winter 1997); J. M. O’Toole, The Records of American Business (Chicago: Society of American Archivists, 1997); and Turton, Managing Business Archives

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