The National Arts Marketing Project, provides information, tools, and practical ideas to design high-quality, cost-effective marketing programs and strengthen arts organizations. Our Advisory Committee provides expert guidance and constantly seeks new resources and information to keep the site relevant and useful.
Today’s media landscape of shrinking newsrooms, thinner newspapers and less in-depth arts coverage poses challenges for cultural organizations. It also offers new opportunities — as long as you’re ready to act by anticipating the needs of the press and public.
Today’s journalists are doing more with less, often providing photography, video and/or audio to go along with their written stories. Many of the reporters I talk with are under tighter deadlines to publish content to the web and under pressure to attract more clicks on their articles. As both the media and arts organizations navigate the demands of the 24-hour news cycle with fewer resources, a proactive and collaborative approach to communications can benefit everyone.
Cultural organizations hoping to land media coverage today must anticipate the needs of the press and be a valuable resource to reporters and editors. This includes offering multimedia content, which can include b-roll footage of a performance or event, behind-the-scenes preparations and Q&As with artists and organizational leaders — anything that offers an intriguing and relevant audio/visual component. The more “packaged” your pitch is with resources you can provide to a reporter or editor, the more likely you are to secure coverage in a variety of outlets.
Much of this multimedia content can then be taken to your own web and social media platforms, giving you opportunities to directly tell the story of your organization and create deeper understanding and engagement with audiences.
Almost anyone in your organization can be a source of compelling content if you collaborate across departments — and not all of this content needs to be created from scratch. For example, an exhibition’s curatorial essay can become a blog post of excerpted material, which can be shared in your email newsletter, while an interesting essay quote or related question can be posted to Facebook and Twitter. Perhaps that curator can also give a 2-minute video “tour” of the exhibition that gets posted on YouTube, with a still photo or video clip on Instagram. All of these pieces come from the same source material but are then interpreted for how audiences communicate and engage through each of these media platforms.
Just remember that, as any good publicist knows that pitches need to be tailored to individual journalists and outlets, organizations must understand how content translates across different direct-to-audience platforms. Don’t try to communicate an overly complex idea in a tweet or Facebook post, and watch your analytics to evaluate what content is actually creating engagement.
As you plan the media relations calendar for your year or season, consider how your story pitches and the content you’ll need to provide to the press can work for your other audience communications. Programming, artistic, and educational staff should be part of this planning process — and those departments should be discussing ideas with the PR team as their programming is being developed, not as an afterthought.
This is a holistic approach to communications that requires time, effort and cross-departmental collaboration, but it is a method that pays off over the long term — ultimately cutting down on the duplication of efforts among staff, producing consistent and proactive communications and putting you one step ahead.
I am an arts explorer. Investigating ideas, pursuing new bits of information, engaging in conversation, or listening to the buzz around me; I thrive on discovering new perspectives and navigating new concepts. Through much personal exploration, I have realized what I loved most about the theater was not performance (I hold a degree in Acting) but instead the art/artist/audience community that surrounds all art in general. As a twenty-something arts professional, I have decided to dedicate myself to the pursuit of all ideas encompassing this fascinating intersection.
A couple of weeks ago I saw this New York Times (NYT) op-ed, “High Culture Goes Hands-On” by Judith Dobryanzki. In it, Dobryanzki makes the case that museums are trying too hard to create space for “visitor engagement” which augments (even tarnishes) the purpose and reputation of museums; “It changes who will go [to museums] and for what.” She even adds in a follow-up article on her personal blog that, “Art museums are… luring visitors by giving them participatory art experiences rather simply providing them with the opportunity to experience viewing glorious works of art.” While this piece references the museum world, I would like to challenge this community of arts marketers to think about its broader impact and how its claims can map directly to all arts audiences.
Linda Essig responds to Dobryanzki’s point of changing “who will go and for what” on her Creative Infrastructure blog. She writes, “That, it seems to me, is a good thing. Arts organizations have for years been decrying their declining and graying membership and subscription bases. If visitors change and visitors change their expectations, perhaps the sound of membership rosters circling the drain will not be so loud.”
Deborah Markow, in contrast to Essig, responds with a letter to the NYT editor agreeing with Dobryanzki, and makes the case that creating visitor engagement opportunities (like meeting the artist or interactive art installations) is not the way to help the public “appreciate and feel at ease in the presence of the great art of the past.”
As I read about all of these heated and contrasting ideas, I saw that words such as “activation,” “engagement,” and “participation” were being dropped into a bucket of full of buzzwords. Over the past two years of working for various Washington, DC theaters who are all energized by the support of their community*, I have come to know these words beyond their empty buzzword-y shells. Read the rest of this entry »
In the hours before Barry Hessenius’ Dinner-Vention this past September, Devon Smith wrote a post in which she asked “What if an arts organization employed a user experience designer?” As defined by Wikipedia – the dictionary powered by community – User Experience Design is “any aspect of a person’s interaction with a given system, including the interface, graphics, industrial design, physical interaction, and the manual.” Apple is the best example of a company that excels in the area of UX design. Everything they create is based on user experience – your iPhone, its packaging, the stores themselves. But how do arts organizations embrace the user experience?
For the last four years, I have taught a course called “Audience Engagement: In Line and Online” to MFA Theatre Management and Producing students at Columbia University. (You can follow us on Twitter at #AlliClass.) Each semester we discuss “Service Mapping,” which is identifying each touchpoint the audience member has with your organization from the moment they decide to go to the theatre to the moment they get home. We start with exposure, move on to research, purchase, and include moments like entering the venue, exiting the venue, pre- and post-show activities. Traditional tech-world UX designers – and often arts marketers! – will focus often on the two stages of service mapping we call “research” and “purchase.” This is where we analyze how easy is it for your customer to find what what’s playing, when, where, and how to buy tickets. Where I see arts marketers – and yes, arts fundraisers, producers and programmers too – really struggle is when we bring the audience into our home – “entering the venue,” “getting to your seats,” “intermission.” Once the audience gets in the door your job is not done. Your audience is, in perhaps not the kindest of terms, held captive. They are, more positively, your captive audience. So what are you going to do with them? Read the rest of this entry »
One of the pleasures of attending the NAMP conference is seeing how the field of arts marketing evolves each year as new technologies emerge. Social media, mobile technology, database systems, and video (as well as print and mass media), along with the role these play in our work, have changed considerably since the first time I attended just 3 years ago.
Changes in technology must always be viewed through the lens of what audiences (and prospective audiences) expect of your organization. As technology evolves, patron expectations and preferences change as well. In the mid-90’s, having a web presence was optional. Nowadays, not so much. Or, think back to when arts organizations were creating MySpace profiles. This was OK in 2006, but it would certainly raise patron eyebrows today. When you have so many marketing technology options at your disposal, you need a way to prioritize. Thinking about patron expectations can help you separate the “gotta have it” options from the ones that fall under the category of “not necessary right now”.
At the NAMP conference this year, I expect to hear about the following 4 technology expectations that many patrons now have:
Portland, Oregon is the home to this year’s National Arts Marketing Project (NAMP) Conference: Powered by Community. You can look forward to conversations about audience diversification, strategies for engaging college students, using augmented reality, the top telemarketing tips, and so much more.
This year’s keynote speakers are creative change agents, community builders, and marketing gurus – Kevin Carroll, Matt Stinchcomb, and Pamela Moore. From Matt’s lessons on community building from the D.I.Y marketplace Etsy to Pam’s arsenal of tactics to keep your online communities striving, this year’s keynotes will leave you inspired and recharged to collaborate with your communities on a more meaningful level.
So to kick off the 2013 NAMP Conference, 20 of the top marketing practitioners and consultants in the field will be blogging right here on ARTSblog all week. Bloggers include Will Lester, Doug Tuck, Rachel Grossman, Ron Evans, and many others.
Here’s a taste of what you will read during this week’s Arts Marketing Blog Salon:
- How one community created and arrived at a collaborative model for partnership.
- Participatory arts programs across the nation that are connecting and interacting with audiences in new ways.
- Strategy for predicting patron behavior and future marketing campaigns.
- New technology and social media trends that are changing the landscape of audience engagement.
We hope you will visit us in the salon and take a moment to leave a comment, share an opinion, or ask a question.
Then come to Portland, Oregon, the home of the 2013 NAMP Conference, November 8-11. Register today if you haven’t already – we’ll see you there!
This is my 149th ARTSblog post as a writer. It’s also my last—at least as a staff member here at Americans for the Arts.
I have been with the organization for almost six years and started blogging four years ago (after becoming ARTSblog editor a little over two years ago).
In those two years, I have tried to write, recruit, or find at least one relevant post per day to publish on the site. Some weeks were easier than others, but it is pretty amazing to see the depth and breadth of the quality of the posts that I have had the pleasure of adding to the site.
And, of course, I can’t help but think of the 20 Blog Salons I have worked on along with the fantastic program staff at the organization who work hard to find the bloggers, gather the posts, pictures, and profiles, and send them along to me for editing, formatting, and social media promotion.
While those weeks are some of the more stressful due to the work that it all entails, I think the fantastic collection of resources in the right side bar speaks for itself.
I’m leaving ARTSblog in the perfectly capable hands of our marketing and communications staff members, but I wanted to take the opportunity to thank you for visiting our little corner of the web to read, comment, and share the amazing work of our bloggers.
Americans for the Arts represents a diverse group of interests—from arts administrators to marketing professionals to advocates to arts-education-supporting parents—and I hope that my work on the site has represented you at one point or another. If it hasn’t, I hope you will consider adding your voice to the mix sometime soon.
Until next time…
We recently launched a new series on ARTSblog that spotlights the staff at Americans for the Arts that I call “Ten Questions with…”, in which I will ask everyone the same questions and see where it takes us.
This time I have turned to Valerie Beaman who currently serves as Private Sector Initiatives Coordinator.
1. Describe your role at Americans for the Arts in 10 words or less:
Program planner, council wrangler, seeker of speakers and bloggers, herder
2. What do the arts mean to you?
In my family it was an anomaly if you weren’t involved in the arts in some way. We are all a bunch of introverts and eccentrics who’ve managed to stay sane by participating in the arts. My first stage experience was as a fairy in A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Redlands Bowl at age 3 ½. I still get goose bumps when I hear Mendelssohn’s music for the entrance of the fairies! Experiences like that never leave you. It’s very important to me to that children everywhere have an opportunity to connect with the arts. They’re a lifesaver. Read the rest of this entry »
Imagine, if we saw social media more like an artist’s studio or cafe and less like a marketing channel?
While walking through the exhibit, Building: Inside Studio Gang Architects at the Arts Institute Chicago last November, I felt like I was seeing into the private design space of the architect.
The exhibit was an installation of an architect’s studio with concept drawings, full-scale project mockups, material samples, and photographs of completed work that now form part of the Chicago city skyline. This exhibit was a celebration of the work of the artist behind their city stage.
The work of the artist backstage, however, many don’t experience. The space is unorganized and cluttered; the work in progress, being constructed, deconstructed, is unpredictable and incomplete. This is why many artists and arts managers do not openly bring backstage onstage and into the public eye—because it is messy.
Imagine for a moment, however, if we did? Read the rest of this entry »
The tragedy in Boston yesterday was horrific and inexplicable and all of us at Americans for the Arts send our deepest sympathy and thoughts to those injured and to their families.
As we saw and heard things unfold from our offices in Washington, DC, and New York City, the Americans for the Arts staff began calling family and friends and members in the Boston area to see if those closest to us were okay. Some of us had loved ones right there at the site watching or running. Thankfully, all were uninjured.
But it made us think how connected, how close, how much a part of a community we all are even if scattered all across our country. In some ways that makes this tragedy all the more hurtful because it was aimed at community and fellowship itself, the very kind of coming together that marathons, and festivals, and arts events try to create. It takes aim at those who live in a community as well as tourists and visitors from across the world, that broader community created by an event like the Boston Marathon.
For me, as someone who grew up in the Boston area and spent my high school years blissfully wandering the city, this happened on sacred ground. Boylston Street was the place of high school proms, or visits to one of our nation’s great libraries, the site of New Year’s Eve First Night Celebrations, and the Lennox Hotel lounge right there was where my parents would go for end of week celebrations and pop up opera performances.
Sadly, terrible events trying to create hard and horrible memories are now all too common. But in some ways our best defense is to keep investing in the community-building arts activities that, individually and together, form the hallmark of our collective work.
Our hope is the hope itself generated by bringing people together through the arts. My hope is that what we all do in our small way in our many arts organizations across America will make the writing of notes like this one someday unnecessary.
There is an old quote attributed to John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich:
“If any man will draw up his case, and put his name at the foot of the first page, I will give him an immediate reply. Where he compels me to turn over the sheet, he must wait my leisure.”
This was the charge given to me by a business leader who needed to make a compelling case for government and corporate arts funding:
“Keep it to one page, please,” was his request. “I can get anyone to read one page.”
With the 2014 arts advocacy season upon us, the following is my updated “Top 10 Reasons to Support the Arts.”
- Which of these would you rank as #1?
- Do you have a #11 to add?
- Tell us in the comments below!
You can download this handy 1-pager here.
1. Arts promote true prosperity. The arts are fundamental to our humanity. They ennoble and inspire us—fostering creativity, goodness, and beauty. The arts help us express our values, build bridges between cultures, and bring us together regardless of ethnicity, religion, or age. When times are tough, art is salve for the ache.
2. Arts improve academic performance. Students with an education rich in the arts have higher GPAs and standardized test scores, and lower drop-out rates—benefits reaped by students regardless of socio-economic status. Students with 4 years of arts or music in high school average 100 points better on their SAT scores than students with just one-half year of arts or music. Read the rest of this entry »
It used to be that the success of arts marketers was dependent on how well they could predict the future and then pray for success. But those days are over.
Today, arts marketers can rely on data analysis and market research to make well-thought-out strategic decisions.
I, for one, am glad that marketers no longer have to rely on future telling because marketing is an essential part of the arts experience. As a jazz trombonist, I had to learn how to market myself to land gigs and then market my gigs so that people would come to them. Arts organizations have to do the same. But they must market their organization as well as individual performances.
Several years ago Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) ran an institutional marketing campaign with the theme “BAM and then it hits you.” The message they conveyed was that the experience at BAM lingered long after you left. This campaign excited people about BAM as an entire organization, as opposed to a singular performance.
There are countless other examples of successful marketing campaigns in the arts. As emerging arts leaders I think it is essential we pay attention to trends in marketing. What are the latest trends in arts marketing? How do arts marketers use data analysis and market research to make strategic decisions? What type of programming is becoming most difficult to market? There is an endless amount of questions we can ask. Read the rest of this entry »
We recently launched a new series on ARTSblog that spotlights the staff at Americans for the Arts that I call “Ten Questions with…”, in which I will ask everyone the same questions and see where it takes us.
This time I have turned to Nora Halpern who currently serves as Vice President of Leadership Alliances for Americans for the Arts.
1. Describe your role at Americans for the Arts in 10 words or less.
Grasstops wrangler: find the person who can move issues forward.
2. What do the arts mean to you?
I find this a very difficult question to answer because the arts are infused in everything I do and everything I am. Therefore, trying to define or identify the arts as something “other,” runs counter to the way I think.
I was lucky to have been raised in a home where the arts were central. Film, music, performance, and the visual arts were vital members of the family and often the glue that got all six of us talking about one topic at a time. Long before the days of remixing and mash-ups, dinner at our house was a cornucopia of art conversations: whether debating likes and dislikes or passions and poisons. Read the rest of this entry »
We all love to go to our favorite theatre and watch a production, sit and listen to our favorite orchestra, or visit our favorite museum.
Traditionally, a person interacted with arts organizations by sitting in the audience of a theater and viewing a performance; but is that enough? I say no way! Like me, many audience members want to get involved and interact with arts organizations in a new way.
Today we live in a world with Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and other social media platforms. These platforms give us a space to share our views and interact with people from around the world.
As a person in my early twenties, interaction and participation is crucial. Arts organizations are beginning to realize the importance of audience engagement and are finding new and innovative ways to engage their audiences.
Audience engagement includes a range of activities from open rehearsals and online forums to interactive shows. Here in Washington, DC, Dog & Pony DC produced a production of The Killing Game that whole-heartedly embraced the idea of audience engagement. Read the rest of this entry »
The House and Senate finally passed the FY 2013 Continuing Resolution which incorporated most of the sequester cuts ordered on March 1.
Only a few programs were amended to restore some of their original funding with a large majority of the across-the-board reductions being maintained. As detailed in my previous post, funding decreases to the National Endowment for the Arts remain at $7 million shaved off the $146 million annual budget.
The funding measure officially closes the books on the last fiscal year as Congress advanced separate budget resolutions for FY 2014. These resolutions are non-binding and do not require the signature of the president to pass, but they do provide instructions that will guide the appropriations process and inform the upcoming tax debates. They are to be taken seriously as the bills represent each party’s “vision” for fiscal policy.
The House version proposes deep cuts to discretionary spending, major changes to entitlements and tax reform that would dramatically lower marginal and corporate tax rates while balancing the budget in 10 years. Also, the House budget contains language for the third year in a row that takes aim at federal cultural funding: Read the rest of this entry »
I have made no secret of my disdain for the practice of announcing theatre grosses as if we were the movie industry. I grudgingly accept that on Broadway, it is a measure of a production’s health in the commercial marketplace, and a message to current and future investors. But no matter where they’re reported, I feel that grosses now overshadow critical or even popular opinion within different audience segments.
A review runs but once, an outlet rarely does more than one feature piece; reports on weekly grosses can become weekly indicators that stretch on for years. If the grosses are an arbiter of what people choose to see, then theatre has jumped the marketing shark.
So it took only one tweet to get me back on my high horse [last week]. A major reporter in a large city (not New York), admirably beating the drum for a company in his area, announced on Twitter that, “[Play] is officially best-selling show in [theatre’s] history.”
When I inquired as to whether that meant highest revenue or most tickets sold, the reporter said that is was highest gross, that they had reused the theatre’s own language, and that they would find out about the actual ticket numbers.” I have not yet seen a follow up, but Twitter can be funny that way.
As the weekly missives about box office records from Broadway prove, we are in an endless cycle of ever-higher grosses, thanks to steady price increases, and ever newer records. That does not necessarily mean that more people are seeing shows; in some cases, the higher revenues are often accompanied by a declining number of patrons. Simply put, even though fewer people may be paying more, the impression given is of overall health. Read the rest of this entry »