This semester I have been asked by the Career Resource Center at American University to blog about my current internship experience at Washington Performing Arts Society. Therefore, if you want to read about my experiences and all the goodies I am bound to learn this semester, check out my posts at the new “AU Intern” blog. I have also added a new page to Artistic Discourse called AU Intern with links taking you directly to the other blog. Looks like my writing load just doubled. Yikes!
Posts Tagged ‘social networking’
Tags: American University, blogging, guest blogging, marketing, social networking
Tags: arts marketing, blogging, new media, social media press release, social networking
Another section I found interesting, and something I hadn’t heard of yet, was called “Adapting Press Materials” and its talk of the social media press release.
After going over some general facts about what journalists look for in press releases, and providing his own wish list of information every organization’s press site should make available, van Bree delves into the new idea of a press release specifically designed to address an organization’s social media audience, and not just the standard journalist. Van Bree sites a study showing that “…marketing professionals were consistently more interested than PR practitioners in reaching new media or consumers directly.” Offering his own analysis of the situation, van Bree writes:
Traditional press releases are specifically designed to communicate with traditional media. However, the study suggests that online distribution is changing the nature of a press release, “repurposing them into news releases used equally by PR and marketing professionals alike as a communications tool to reach a multiplicity of audiences and achieve a number of goals.”
Van Bree also points out that the type of information a Blogger needs is different from the traditional journalist; more multimedia, key facts and quotes, and an ability to tag and use trackbacks to monitor the activity of the release, and perhaps even a way for readers to make comments. The idea of all this being of course that strategic information is put out there in ways that are easily digestible and readily adaptable to any person interested enough to take the next step and tell their friends just how great Organization X is.
Recent writings have shown that more people find out about events, products, etc., through their friends and more importantly for this discussion, through social media outlets. With this kind of growing trend staring us in the face, it would behoove us as arts marketers and administrators to take full advantage and learn ways to adapt our communications towards the use of this medium.
Of course with all new innovations, comes the potential for negative side affects. For example, what happens when you put out a release about your organization only to have someone take that same seemingly well crafted release and turn it against you? A seemingly positive release about increased funding for the NEA was misrepresented by Fox News wherein they put out a story line purporting skewed financial numbers and a contorted story about where some of the money was spent. I learned of this gross misrepresentation by Fox News via a great blog called Createquity written by Yale School of Management graduate, Ian David Moss.
This situation is a little different in that it is a “news” outlet distorting the message, but it is also related in that bloggers then take that distortion and run with it. That’s just what conservative bloggers did here, here and here. Even blogs, such as this one, who are in support of the funding, and who argue against positions held by Fox News, still have the incorrect number of $80 million. So in the end, misinformation is spreading on both the supportive and unsupportive fronts. Not good either way.
Under the “Measuring Results” section, van Bree discusses some ways to track the success of marketing efforts made via social networking mediums. As with all PR and marketing plans, the correlations between being exposed to Advertisement X and buying Product Y aren’t always clear.
He points out a new measuring phrase to look for is “return on influence”, a spin-off of the commonly used phrase “return on investment”. Essentially, he explains an organization needs to determine what it’s trying to accomplish by using social media. Next, it needs to determine attributes that could help measure and achieve this goal, and figure out how best to track those attributes accordingly. The three important words to remember are part of what’s called the “Triad of Interest”: INTEREST; ATTITUDE; ACTION. Naturally, van Bree offers a much more fleshed out explanation coupled with colorful charts and data. It would be redundent for me to reproduce all of that…. so I won’t.
Over the course of writing these two blog entries, I have probably read and re-read “Orchestras” five or six times. Every time I go through, I notice something new and interesting that I didn’t notice the time before. Marc van Bree has done a tremendous job of grasping the current marketing and media issues facing orchestras and artistic organizations alike. Additionally, he offers up some solid analysis and commentary about the situation. This semester in my master’s program I am taking a course on marketing for the arts. I will be sure to keep this E-book as a handy resource and potential class discussion topic.
Thanks Marc for the great work, and the great resource!
Tags: arts marketing, blogging, new media, niche marketing, social networking
Getting back into the swing of things, the other day I read an E-book by Marc Van Bree titled “Orchestras and New Media”. I learned of it by way of Technology in the Arts, a blog affiliated with Carnegie Mellon University. Van Bree is a public affairs associate at the University of Chicago, and comes from a background at the Chicago Symphony where he served as the public relations coordinator and later as publicist.
In this two part commentary I will highlight some key points I found interesting, as well as offer my own opinions and analysis on areas of the book, but I encourage all of you to read the full e-book as it is well thought out, easy to follow and well written.
Van Bree starts in with an analysis of the changing environment and the new media revolution that has increasingly become less of a fad, and more of a new way of communicating. He compiles some really good data showing the decline in print media circulation and ad sales, and the corresponding increase in online ad sales and even greater increase in website traffic. I liked that he started off with this analysis and statistics before making the case for the use of new media and social networking. The way I see it, he laid down the hard facts for those people and organizations who still view these new technologies with a skeptical and reluctant eye. Things are definitely moving in the new media direction for advertising and marketing, but many arts institutions, like many established organizations, may sometimes be reluctant to invest precious marketing and ad dollars into something with untested and ambiguous ROI data.
Here are some of the scary numbers form this first section:
- the percentage of adults attending a classical music performance remained at about 12 to 13 percent of the adult population
- From 1992 to 2002, the drop in the amount of listening/viewing audience was nearly 25 percent.
- From 1998 to 2003, space dedicated to arts articles and listings went from an average of 5,489 column inches to 4,994 column inches.
- Number of featured stories down by 30 percent.
- Monthly unique visitor numbers for newspaper Web sites rose from 41 million in January 2004 to 75 million in January 2009. In active reach percentages, average numbers increased from 27.5 percent to 44.3 percent during that same period.
I think the last bullet point is the most striking set of numbers. Although, van Bree points out that online ad sales have not surpassed print ad sales, the trend is pointing towards that possibility, and these numbers would indicate why.
In the following sections, van Bree lays out some basic guidelines on everything from “Monitoring the Scene”, where he explains how to monitor your organizations presence on the Web, down to the nitty gritty of using your Twitter account as a means to avert potentially damaging customer service situations. I found the section on Blogging particularly interesting because he really goes into the “why” of blogging, and not just that one “should”. According to van Bree, the first question your organization should ask itself about blogging is “why should our organization have a blog?” I’ll let you read the interesting details of the answer for yourself, but I’ll give you a hint as to what the answer is not………another way to market your events.
The section titled “The Long Tail” was quite interesting but also caused me some concern. The notion of “the long tail” is a phrase coined by author Chris Anderson to describe the sales strategy of online retailers like Amazon and Netflix and the popular classical music label Naxos. The business model is essentially this: sell less of more. In other words, offer a wide range of products, but keep very little on hand, the idea being you can cater to every niche market there is, minus the high over-head. The reason this business model causes me some distress is because of the possible long-term ramifications of “niche-market” mentality. The Pixar movie “Wall-E” immediately comes to mind.
In “Wall-E”, the cute little robot bearing the same name as the movie title, discovers the remainder of humanity not on earth, but confined in a spaceship. In this future state of humanity, humans are all morbidly obese with tyrannosaurus-like baby arms dangling off their bloated torsos. Everyone is relegated to their own personal hover craft equipped with everything from personal televisions playing only what the viewer wants, to feeding devices that supply sugary goodness at the push a of a button. The new humans are so enveloped in their own niche-world that they don’t interact with others, and forget what its like to experience simple things such as eating solid food and enjoying real human interaction. Instant gratification- the new way of life. Work – overrated.
It is a clear mockery and social commentary on the condition and seemingly likely trajectory our western culture is taking. Okay, yes, this is obviously an extreme scenario. However, I can’t help but notice the similarities, albeit to a far lesser degree, in the idea of catering only to niche markets. At what point do niche markets become so small that marketers learn exactly how to market to every specific person’s taste and individual likeness? No one would ever need worry about seeing an ad they don’t like, or for that matter, one that makes them think something outside what they already know. No one would ever be challenged to think beyond what they already know and like. To relate this idea to orchestras; how narrow can they market themselves and get away with it?
Don’t get me wrong. I like the idea of orchestras changing their strategies and adapting to a new social and economic environment, but at what cost to the art and more importantly to the audience? I see this on two ends of the spectrum; too main stream on one end, and too avante garde and eccentric on the other. Should orchestras and operas appeal to the masses and only perform Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony and Puccini’s La Boheme? After all, those concerts will sell, but at what cost to the art form’s future? On the other end of the spectrum, if orchestras only performed new music and/or less palatable music from the likes of Schoenberg or Berg, can they hope to survive in today’s economy and culture of instant gratification? In the end, either way, a niche audience has been appealed to.
A happy balance between the two would seem to be the easiest answer. However, it seems given the current state of affairs many orchestras are exhibiting safe programming. But is “safe” REALLY what people want? I don’t pretend to speak for the masses, but to me, after a while, “safe” starts feel a lot like “boring” and unexciting. I realize it is easier for me to be a side-line commentator on the matter, yet I feel these are relevant issues facing the future of orchestral music in this country.
To be fair, van Bree is not talking about the kind of “niche markets” environment I’m railing against. He is talking about the ability of companies such as Netflix and Naxos to offer an enormous variety of music and movies to a wider variety of consumer. Variety is not what I take issue with. The issue is marketers knowing which color of the variety spectrum you fall into and then never marketing any other colors to you, thus, for lack of a better phrase, causing you to see everything with rose-tinted glasses…or whatever color glasses your may prefer. That being said, I think many involved in orchestral management would agree that the type of niche environment I am referring to is also an issue faced by programmers and artistic directors across the country.
In part two of my commentary I will touch on the remaining sections of “Orchestras and New Media” wherein van Bree discusses matters such as Adapting Press Materials to fit online media, Measuring Results of online press releases and social media site usage, and two brief case studies of the Chicago and London Symphonies.
Tags: artistic culture, online media, social networking
Getting started on a blog is not an easy undertaking. The time commitment alone is enough to make me ask myself, “should I be getting paid for this?” Well, maybe someday.
This blog will be about many things artistic, but it will also be a commentary on the arts culture in general. Frankly, let’s face it, the artistic culture in America is facing some serious problems. Not only is it in trouble financially, as are most non-profit organizations these days, but it is in my opinion also going through an identity crisis of sorts.
The way we as a society communicate and share information today is significantly different than even just ten years ago. Here is a perfect example of how simply watching television has changed. Newspapers are failing, the major networks are re-structuring, and statistics show that more and more people are turning to blogs and other various online media sites to get information. The days of old-fashioned marketing and print media are coming to an end. How will arts organizations transition successfully and seamlessly as possible into the 21st century way of communicating? This is where we come back to the notion of an identity crisis.
The identity crisis comes in the form of artistic organizations determining how to navigate through a new, seemingly ubiquitous cultural shift that pervades the American and world cultures. That new culture is social networking and online media sites. How will opera companies, symphonies, choral societies, ballet companies, museums, and any other medium of classical art, connect to a new generation of potential art lovers? I believe the answer lies in the realms of cyberspace.
Sites like Facebook , Twitter and especially Youtube hold immense potential if only used properly. The key words are “if only used properly.” Most arts websites I visit are still using the internet like it was used ten years ago. They are simply creating a website, throwing a bunch of information on there, and hoping that the viewer will be interested enough to come check out their artistic product. Websites can no longer act as bulletin boards of information. They must now be interactive as well as engaging and informative. A leading voice in the classical arts community who’s opinion I immensely respect, Greg Sandow, thankfully understands the importance of this cultural shift.
Here are a few examples, in my opinion, of arts organizations who understand the cultural shift taking place and who have adapted accordingly: London Symphony, Seattle Opera, and The Metropolitan Opera . As I discover more I will be sure to add them.
So, this is the situation we face. It may appear to be a daunting task, and to some, a useless waste of time. However, it is happening and it WILL happen, whether we choose to recognize its importance or not. Luckily, I am at an advantage as I have pretty much lived my entire life with computers and thus have easily adapted with the changes in technology. Some are not so fortunate, but they can’t be blamed for not understanding the importance of it.
This is of course merely my opinion, but it seems to be the general consensus of the arts community. In any of posts from here on, if you think I am off-base, wrong, or just plain wacky, tell me. I love dissenting viewpoints. It helps me to refine my own.
Now, let’s get to work…