Historic Steinway Piano Restoration Attracts Global Attention

Motown Museum engaged Identity to manage the media relations and messaging during once-in-a-lifetime event.

Our Approach

When Paul McCartney visited the Motown Museum in July of 2011, he was so moved by its musical aura that he declared it to be the “Holy Grail.” The next day, after his concert in Detroit, he offered his support to restore one of Motown’s prized instruments—a nine-foot, 1877 Steinway grand piano. Following the piano’s journey to the Steinway & Sons’ factory in New York, it was restored to professional recording quality one year later. Motown Museum engaged Identity to take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime media opportunity and manage the coverage of the unveiling of the newly restored instrument during a celebratory event at New York City’s Steinway Hall, where Paul McCartney and Motown founder Berry Gordy would play the piano for the first time before its journey back home to Detroit inside the Museum.

Understanding that this piano’s restoration garnered great interest from Motown fans, music lovers, history buffs and general audiences worldwide, Identity did extensive historical research to create a clear and cohesive press announcement that centered Motown Museum at the heart of the story. To manage the message in a controlled manner, Identity shared the announcement of the piano’s restoration two weeks prior to the New York City event, effectively injecting the Museum’s voice and its mission—to protect and preserve the Motown legacy. The announcement generated media coverage worldwide and also led to additional ticket sales for the event. Identity worked with Museum executives prior to each secured interview to maximize these opportunities and build relationships for the Museum’s long-term benefit.

The charitable event entitled Project: Harmony was held in September 2012. Guests had the thrilling opportunity to see Paul McCartney perform in this intimate and iconic venue and hear his motivation and passion for why he was moved to support the restoration of this piano.

The two musical icons together played an electrifying rendition of Motown’s 1959 first hit record “Money (That’s What I Want)” written by Berry Gordy that was subsequently covered by The Beatles. Following McCartney and Gordy’s performance, the evening continued with singer/songwriter Michael Bolton and Motown star Valerie Simpson performing a powerful rendition of “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.” Avid Detroit supporter Kid Rock was also in attendance.

Due to its exclusive nature, the event was closed to the media. With careful planning and a detailed media strategy, Identity captured the evening’s occurrences in real-time, worked with all celebrity partners and distributed a detailed news release and photos to media contacts internationally. These efforts told the story of the special evening while generating impactful coverage that kept Motown Museum in the spotlight.

What We Did

Identity deployed the following strategies and tactics in order to achieve success:

  • Media Relations & Marketing

    • Message Development
    • Executive Coaching & Media Training
    • Media Relations
    • Event Management


  • 300+media stories generated around the world
  • 15Ksocial media shares alone from Paul McCartney’s blog post on the event