EDMOND—This year, the Armstrong International Cultural Foundation’s public relations department has visited and been visited by groups in the Oklahoma City area community and beyond, continuing its involvement with area leaders from several fields.
March 19 About a dozen members of Edmond’s Boulevard Rotary Club toured Armstrong Auditorium. Rotary is an international network of more than 35,000 clubs that serve their local communities and larger charitable causes with volunteerism, scholarships, donations and other work.
June 22 The South Oklahoma City Rotary Club invited public relations director Shane Granger to speak to a group of about 20 members about the auditorium, the Armstrong International Cultural Foundation’s work in Jerusalem, and the Seals of Isaiah and Hezekiah Exhibit. One of the members of the club had attended the grand opening of the auditorium back in September 2010. The club then toured the exhibit in July.
June 27 A member of the Edmond Kiwanis Club, another local volunteer service organization, invited Granger to speak after hearing about the foundation from the Boulevard Rotary Club. Granger said he gave a half-hour talk to about 15 club members about the performing arts series, then focused on the Seals of Isaiah and King Hezekiah exhibit. The Kiwanis also toured the exhibit in July.
August 8 About 60 members of the Edmond Rotary Club heard Granger speak about the foundation’s concerts, exhibit and archaeological efforts, on an invitation from Rotary member Ken Moore, former executive director of the Edmond Area Chamber of Commerce. Granger serves on the Board of Advisors at the chamber. The club, which also includes Edmond’s mayor, Charles Lamb, and its city manager, Larry Stevens, had invited Granger to speak in February 2016, so several members were familiar with the auditorium and the foundation. “They asked a lot of questions about the college,” Granger said. “The publisher of the Edmond Life and Leisure paper told everyone during the question-and-answer session about our outreach in various forms, such as the Young Ambassadors, in years past, and the previous Seals of Jeremiah’s Captors Discovered exhibit.”
August 28 A Kiwanis member who is also part of the National Association of Retired Federal Employees invited Granger to speak at an NARFE luncheon. Granger said that of the 24 people present, a third had been to a concert or to the exhibit at the auditorium. “I spoke about our history of archeology in Jerusalem starting with Mr. Armstrong and moving forward,” Granger said. “They were interested in the college and what the students study, so we spent some time on the college. One man was interested in the split in the Church and wanted to know ‘what happened?’ He seemed to have heard the Worldwide Church of God’s version and wanted to compare it with ours. He said something to the effect of, ‘There are two sides to every coin, I’m glad to hear this side.’”
The speaking engagements and visits to the auditorium are a continuation of the type of work the public relations department has done in recent years, participating in a series of gatherings with community organizations.
Established in 2006 and led by Evangelist Wayne Turgeon, Public Relations initially managed media coverage of the college’s Young Ambassadors community outreach visits and press releases about the Feast of Tabernacles. When construction began on Armstrong Auditorium in 2008, the foundation hired a marketing consulting firm and the PR department launched a public awareness campaign and brought more than 100 executives on tours of the building site so they could be among the first to know in the community. One tour led to the auditorium being featured on the front page of the Oklahoman newspaper. The department also coordinated the visit of sculptor David Wynne to the campus as well as his media interviews and press coverage of the opening of the auditorium.
In 2012, Granger and Armstrong Auditorium head usher Edwin Trebels, who later transferred to the United Kingdom-Europe regional office, participated in the Certified Tourism Ambassador program as it established its Oklahoma branch. (To date, five staff members have been certified, some of whom have spoken at the group’s events.) The department also promoted the Jerusalem Celebration to launch the opening of the exhibit “Seals of Jeremiah’s Captors Discovered” and welcomed a Russian diplomatic delegation from Edmond’s sister city, Engels, Russia.
In 2013, the department coordinated several television interviews to highlight the exhibit and the achievements of Imperial Academy Irish dance students. It also organized an aerial video shoot of the campus. Granger was a guest for an event at the Oklahoma governor’s mansion and also began serving on the Board of Advisors for the Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce.
In 2014, the department accepted an “Outstanding New Attraction” Redbud Award for Armstrong Auditorium from Lt. Governor Todd Lamb and the Oklahoma Travel Industry Association. The department continued to participate in engagements such as the Confluence conference and Lift digital marketing sessions.
In 2015, Granger was invited to address the 600 members of the Oklahoma City Rotary. The department also hosted a meeting of Certified Tourism Ambassadors at the auditorium, Granger received a Certified Tourism Ambassadors Gold Star Award and visited Turkey as a guest of the Dialogue Institute of the Southwest, and department staff attended the 2015 Oklahoma Conference on Tourism.
In 2016, Trebels was invited to address OKC Social members, Granger spoke to the Edmond Summit Rotary Club and attended an event with the Consulate General of Israel in Houston; members of the staff attended an event with the Turkish Dialogue Institute, and the 2016 Oklahoma Conference on Tourism. Also that year, Granger earned a professional accreditation that is awarded to only 2 percent of public relations professionals.
Over its 12 years, the department has also helped organize and host visits to Herbert W. Armstrong College and Armstrong Auditorium by dignitaries including Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin, U.S. Senator James Lankford, Azerbaijan Ambassadors Yashar Aliyev and Elin Suleymanov, and Israeli consulate officials Belaynesh Zevadia, Yoram Ettinger, Ben Stinsman, Guy Cohen, Daniel Agranov, and ambassadors Meir Shlomo and Eitan Levon.
Currently the department serves on the Board of Advisers of the Edmond Area Chamber of Commerce, is a member of the Sister Cities International Oklahoma City chapter. It works closely with the Edmond Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Jewish Federation of Oklahoma City and the Oklahoma Israel Exchange. It also supervises exhibit tours, concert series ticket sales, ArmstrongAuditorium.org and Armstrong.foundation.
Mr. Turgeon said, “The long honeymoon period is evidenced by the number of community groups contacting us to speak regarding the Armstrong International Cultural Foundation. We must be becoming better known, as oftentimes several people in each audience have attended concerts or toured an exhibit.”