Laura Kakolewski

There is no question that infographics have tumbled into the world of marketing.

Infographics serve as visual narratives that arrange patterns, relationships, or trends in a creative and visually appealing way. The ideal infographic organizes large amounts of data with art and design finesse, and in the end, a story materializes.

And thanks to social media, infographics have become a popular form of shareable content for brands, serving as an engagement tool for online audiences.

When it comes to the evolution of the infographic, in the past two years, infographics have grown bigger, brighter, and richer in content. For example, compare both the size and amount of data illustrated on this 2011 infographic to that found on the average size of a 2012 infographic.

In my work as an arts marketer, I have experienced this growth first-hand. In designing our e-book, 13 Social Media Infographics Every Marketer Needs to See Volume 2, our primary challenge was fitting the volume of content so that it would match the customary dimensions of the publications our e-book library.

The rise of infographics has also been seen through the development of user-friendly websites such as visual.ly, which has raised $2 million dollars to allow you to create, customize, and share your own infographics easily and for free.

However, a recent Huffington Post article discusses the notion that as content creators, it is a constant uphill battle to create fresh and engaging content that will grab the attention of our online audience. The author argues that “the time has come to take the world of infographics to the next level: video.”

According to the article, content that is in the form of the infographic, a trend that has undeniably been on the rise, will soon be replaced by explainer videos, or “short, actionable and instructive videos that businesses use to quickly explain what it is they do, and how they can solve their customer’s biggest problems.” Read the rest of this entry »

Mary Trudel

Everything we ever knew about the value of authentic engagement is louder, faster, and more challenging.

My partner, Rory MacPherson, and I spend a lot of time interviewing arts organizations about their use of social media to seek out best practices and learn from field exemplars. What I come away with after hundreds of interviews is that effective use of social media is building engagement on steroids!

The best organizations understand that your greatest assets are—to use a Facebook word—your friend relationships with audiences, visitors, fans, and patrons. You can mobilize these groups to help but you CANNOT make those friends in a crisis.

Friends are made on the frontlines through individual experiences that bring fans closer or push them away. We’ve noted 7 important elements of effective engagement which can solidify engagement and make social media mission critical for your fundraising:

  1. Make it Personal + Concrete + Time Sensitive
  2. Connect with Values and Value Connections
  3. Listen and Respond
  4. Answer the Audience’s Question: What’s in It for Me?
  5. Cultivate Productive Partnerships
  6. Measure What Matters
  7. Involve the Whole Organization

Two outstanding examples:

  • Georgia Shakespeare was facing a perfect storm of funding, facing possible closure. The managing director made a personal appeal—not unusual—but what happened next was explosive and exponential. A New York actor who got his start at Georgia Shakespeare sent out a birthday wish—“Don’t buy me a beer for my birthday, donate the price of one to my theatrical ‘birthplace.’” And donations flowed in—$325,000 in 2 weeks from more than 1000 people across the U.S. Read the rest of this entry »

David Dombrosky

Over the last few years, I have been paying an increasing amount of attention to mobile technology and its intersection with the arts. Many people in our field hold the philosophy that mobile is the future. I would argue that mobile is the present—it’s where things already are.

If any of you are waiting for a “tipping point” to arrive before you begin exploring how to engage audiences via mobile devices, allow me to gently inform you that you are late to the party.

The point has tipped.

So what are your options?

Participate in mobile-optimized environments
Thankfully, most of us already use mobile-optimized environments to communicate with our audiences. Your Facebook pages and Twitter profiles are presented to mobile users in an optimized format, and your messages on those platforms appear in your followers’ activity streams on their mobile devices—which is critically important given that over 50% of Facebook and Twitter users access their accounts from smartphones and tablet computers.

Develop a mobile website
Whew!  Okay, so at least you have some mobile-optimized content. Now, what about your website? For those of you who have a mobile website, good job. Skip this section. For those of you who do not have a mobile website, I have some questions for you: Read the rest of this entry »

Adam Cunningham

The biggest myth facing digital (and all the activities from social media, advertising, and marketing that fall under that title) is that it is still viewed as something that cannot fully track sales, being incorrectly lumped into the same categories as print, television, and radio.

In reality, 100% all digital activities can be tracked down to a dollar and cent value via 1×1 conversion pixels that can be placed at the conversion/thank you page for any client, selling any product, on all major ticketing systems.

Most verticals outside of the arts have realized this for years, and have adjusted their spends accordingly.

Looking at Lexus (a decidedly “older” car), recent data showed their spend allocation at 50% traditional and 50% digital/emerging technologies. For the always progressive Virgin America plan, 70% went to digital and 30% for traditional. Looking at Converse, 90% of the spend went to digital and content development (which, inevitably, is distributed via digital avenues) with only 10% left for traditional advertising means.

The arts, meanwhile, appear to be hesitant about shifting dollars. Read the rest of this entry »

We Share Awesome

Posted by Devra Thomas On October - 1 - 20124 COMMENTS

Devra Thomas

How do you keep your audiences coming back for more? World-class art? A triple-digit marketing budget? How about making friends with them and creating an awesome experience from the moment they enter your space to the second they exit?

Scott Stratten, in last year’s NAMP Conference keynote speech, said, “We don’t share brochures. We don’t share logos. We share awesome. We share experiences.”

How is your organization crafting the total experience for your audience, or is it? Too often in the administrative world we get caught up in the questions of how we find new audiences and how we get those audiences to give us more money.

Those are valid questions, but exist in the before and after of the actual art experience. As administrators, we need to be more concerned with the “during” portion of the audience member’s visit, as this is the best time to turn them into friends. The customer’s personal experience with our organization does not begin when the lights go down, or when they stand in front of a painting, it begins the minute they pick up the phone to buy tickets or they step in the door for the show. It doesn’t end with the applause; actually, the goal is for it not to end, but to grow into a personally (and, yes, financially) valuable relationship.

Yes, the art itself is of the utmost importance. You don’t go to a restaurant, have a bad meal and exceptional service, and say, “Oh, I have to go there again, the food was awful, but that waiter!” But the reverse is often true: you can partake of a wonderful meal—or show—and have terrible service but go again because the product was good.

Imagine what would be said about your organization if you combined your great art with exceptional service: “I love coming here because you’re all always so friendly.” Or “I feel like I’m part of the family and wanted my friends to meet you.” Crafting an exceptional customer service mindset within your entire organization is the fastest way to start creating those awesome experiences that your audiences will share. Read the rest of this entry »

Amelia Northrup

For decades, the arts industry has chased new audiences, especially younger audiences. Today, that chase is directed at the largest population under 30 years old in human history. It’s little wonder that Gen Y (born 1981–2001) is a hot topic for arts marketers.

As a data-informed member of Gen Y, here’s a take on my generation of arts consumers.

We curate our lives. For as long as we’ve been consumers, we have always had access to Google and Amazon. Search is our way of finding out anything and everything we want to know. We are the generation of the long-tail. This means we have had access to more variety of art, music, performances, and consumer products than any other generation in history.

Because we have access to virtually everything, we take pleasure in exploring the original and local and not just mass-market products and experiences. The data backs this up; an Edelman Digital study found that 40% of Gen Y participants preferred buying local, even if it meant paying more than a mass-market product.

Beyond buying local, the exploration of everything available in the marketplace has led to a culture where we curate our lives. The rise of personal curation—selection of exactly what we want from all that’s available—is evident in the recent popularity of Pinterest.

We spend on what we value. Gen Y is often characterized as cheap. There’s good reason for our cost-consciousness. Gen Y paid much more for college than previous generations and now has record levels of student debt. We face an unprecedented labor market that has offered us more unemployment and underemployment than under-30s of nearly any previous generation.

In light of our generation’s thriftiness, the Edelman study’s spending metric suggest that a cheap price is not our only motivation to buy. Warren Buffet once said, “Price is what you pay, value is what you get.” Price and value are connected for Gen Y. Read the rest of this entry »

As the 2012 National Arts Marketing Project (NAMP) Conference: Getting Down to Business quickly approaches, we are taking some cues from creative business leaders, entrepreneurs and change agents. And that is exactly how I would describe our keynote speakers – Rohit Bhargava, Eric Ryan, Nina Simon, and the musical collective cdza:

What better way to kick off a meeting about audience engagement, communications, and revenue generation than with an online discussion with you and 25 top marketing practitioners and consultants in the field?

Join us here on ARTSblog for a dialogue on the broad landscape of arts marketing, technology, and audience development. Bloggers include David Dombrosky, Clay Lord, Jill Robinson, Nina Simon, Adam Thurman, and many others.

From October 1-5, join us as we wrestle with and ponder on such questions as:

•    What new strategies are you utilizing to broaden your audience and build business?
•    How are you using ROI analysis in your marketing campaigns? Read the rest of this entry »

Is Arts Integration Working?

Posted by Ken Busby On September - 28 - 20125 COMMENTS

Ken Busby

Earlier this year, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, discussed the importance of the arts to the overall education of our children:

“The arts are an important part of a well-rounded education for all students.  All of the arts—dance, music, theatre, and the visual artsare essential to preparing our nation’s young people for a global economy fueled by innovation and creativity and for a social discourse that demands communication in images and sound as well as in text.” 

He went on to say, “research shows that arts-rich schoolsones that provide opportunities for students to experience the arts in deep and meaningful ways and to make curricular connections with math, science, and the humanitiesare more engaging for students.”

And he referenced research that all of us in the arts education field have used for years saying, “We know that students who attend arts-rich schools are more likely to stay in school and go on to graduate from college.”

At the end of his comments, Duncan issued a challenge: “Now is the time to make the arts a vital part of a complete education for all students.”

Here’s the conundrum…

The U.S. Secretary of Education states what we know to be true. He states it with authority and without equivocation. And yet, we continue to see education budgets slashed year after year. And we continue to see the arts and art opportunities diminished within our schools in favor of more “time on task” for reading and math, and more testing. The disparity among schools is widening, with some really outstanding schools at the top, a few in the middle, and more and more considered “failing.” Typically, the schools with the lowest performing students are also the schools with the least amount of arts opportunities and integration.

What to do? Read the rest of this entry »

Stephanie Smith

Last week, we packed out a partially restored 1930s single-screen movie house in our town’s up-and-coming downtown area. How did we do it? Three simple words: Arts Mean Business.

We, being East End Arts, a nonprofit community arts organization out in eastern Long Island, operating a School of the Arts, an art gallery, and presenting a variety of events and programs to promote the arts year-round.

“Arts Mean Business” was a forum that we presented for the region’s arts and business leaders: we invited business owners, artists, local government, arts organizations, community leaders, nonprofit organizations, and community members to the seminar with keynote presentation and panel discussion by notable arts and business leaders demonstrating the value of partnering with the arts to strengthen the economic vitality of Long Island.

We weren’t so sure how the community would respond to this sort of forum, but the immediate responses to our first marketing efforts proved that it would be a successful venture and indeed it was.

“Arts Mean Business” completely sold out—we were thrilled to learn that our local community wanted to know what we had to say about a very important topic: partnership between the arts and business communities of all shapes and sizes.

The group of 150 attendees represented a great sample of the people we were hoping to reach. It was really a 50/50 crowd of arts people and business people, with a few government officials in the mix.

We are so grateful that our friends at the Suffolk Theater agreed to host us in their space. The 1930s art deco-style theater has been closed since the 1980s, but is in the process of being restored with the goal to open by the end of 2012.

Guests were excited to see the majestic and historic space and meeting there really spoke to the creative process—and the endless possibilities for the future of our downtown area on the rise, and for the economic strength of all of Long Island.  Read the rest of this entry »

KRIS Wine Art of Education contest

It’s a favorite time of year for students, teachers, and parents as the weather finally cools, leaves begin changing, and pumpkins pop up on every corner. Oh, and students across the country make the daily trek back to school.

For 16 lucky schools, those students and arts teachers can add a little more bounce to their steps. Last fall, consumers and arts advocates selected 16 grant winners by voting for their favorite K–12 public school during KRIS Wine’s Art of Education contest.

$25,000 was disseminated to schools all over the country to be used for arts programming. From Washington to Michigan and L.A. to Georgia, funds are being used for a wide range of projects. In an era where funding for strong arts programs consistently fall by the wayside, every extra dollar helps.

For the following schools KRIS Wine’s investment has made all the difference:

Kenmore Elementary, Kenmore, WA
Kenmore Elementary was the top awarded school in the KRIS wine “Art of Education” program. “We believe the money will greatly help us in continuing to provide an enriching educational experience,” said Principal Steve Hopkins. Kenmore Elementary plans to use the grant to host an artist-in-residence for the entire 2013 school year to conduct a series of visual art lessons with 500 students in its K–6 classes.

Lake Ridge Elementary, Magna, UT
Lake Ridge Elementary was able to fund costumes and scenery for The Avalanche, an opera created entirely by fourth grade students. The opera took the class nearly the whole school year to organize from writing the story and music to painting all 320 square feet of scenery. Barbara Knowlden, fourth grade teacher shared, “With the money from KRIS Wine, I was able to purchase the necessary supplies. It really helped my students’ self-esteem as they realized what they accomplished and how wonderful they looked in the costumes!” Read the rest of this entry »

Ron Jones

I used to believe that my role, and that of my teaching colleagues, was to ensure that we gave to our art majors our full measure of knowledge, skills, and understanding. I like to think that we took every opportunity to sharpen their critical eyes and guide them to more enriched sensibilities as they aspired to be artists, art teachers, and art historians.

That was what college was all about, and I thought that if they worked hard and gave it their “all,” then we’d applaud them at commencement and wish them well (while, among ourselves, we knew full well that many, perhaps most would not “make it”).

While I don’t think I ever said it straight out, I do believe that my message to graduates at every commencement was, “We’ve done our part; now it is up to you.” I now am embarrassed to say that implicit in this thinking was the notion that we in higher education need not assume any responsibility for what happens later, after our students leave. After all, we gave 100 percent to all of our students—so we thought—who were with us for those four, five, or six years. What they did after graduation was unquestionably up to them.

The national discourse about the value (or lack of value) of higher education is making it quite clear that there is a greater (or new) expectation that we in higher education now provide a bit more—perhaps a lot more—than a “discover yourself” curriculum that results in nearly half of arts graduates dropping out of the field before the second anniversary of their commencement (see Strategic National Arts Alumni Project that has been tracking the lives and careers of arts graduates in America). This, of course, is not a desirable result; therefore, we must change the way we’re doing things or we will continue to get the same result in years to come.

What has become obvious to me is that artists are entrepreneurs too. Artists have to network, have to market themselves as well as their work, they have to take risks and have to profit from failure not unlike those we recognize as the most successful entrepreneurs. Whether a designer or painter or sculptor or even art historian and art educator, there is a benefit to being additionally prepared with the tools to manage one’s career and apply one’s creativity to ensuring success. Read the rest of this entry »

Victoria Plettner-Saunders

In presidential election years we often forget that there are really important races going on in our own communities. Here in San Diego we have a hotly contested mayoral race, the outcome of which could be as critical to locals as Obama v. Romney will be to the nation.

But we also have school board elections getting underway and the California Alliance for Arts Education (CAAE) has geared up for its election year Candidate Survey Project.

I’ve participated in previous years by soliciting responses to survey questions from the school board candidates which are then posted on the CAAE website. The results are promoted through press releases and pushed out through social media so that voters can find out how their candidates stack up with their support of arts education.

What I love about these surveys is that I always find out things about the candidate that I didn’t know—who played instruments in high school, who makes contributions to which arts organizations, etc.

They all seem to want to look good to the voters about the arts. Of course there are those who also talk about budget needs and core subject priorities, but I rarely see a candidate respond completely negatively when asked about their commitment to arts education.

This in itself is important because the survey response means they are on the record. It gives advocates a connection and an opportunity to turn them into allies when they become school board decision makers.

So now that I’ve told you all the great things about the surveys, let me share a resource with you that will help you create your own candidate survey. The CAAE website has all the tips, timelines, and templates to help you develop your own. Read the rest of this entry »

A Busy Summer for the Arts Action Fund

Posted by admin On September - 20 - 20121 COMMENT

The Americans for the Arts Action Fund, in partnership with NAMM: National Association of Music Merchants, The Recording Academy (GRAMMYs), and The United States Conference of Mayors partnered together to sponsor programs at both the Republican National Convention and the Democratic National Convention with the help of the respective local arts agencies in Tampa and Charlotte (Arts Council of Hillsborough County and the Arts & Science Council).

It all began with two events in Tampa for the Republican National Convention.

The first was ArtsSPEAK, a policy forum on the future of the arts and arts education. The second was ArtsJAM, an intimate concert performance featuring national recording artists celebrating the arts.

To kick things off, Arts Action Fund President Bob Lynch welcomed RNC delegates to ArtsSPEAK in Tampa:

Later, he was joined by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who moderated the panel of elected officials, advocates and arts leaders. Featured speakers included: Utah Gov. Gary R. Herbert; Mesa (AZ) Mayor Scott Smith; Hillsborough County School Board Member Doretha Edgecomb; Tampa Bay Times Marketing Director Kerry O’Reilly; and Jazz Musician/Former New York Yankee Bernie Williams.

You can listen to the full event via SoundCloud:

Read the rest of this entry »

Will Maitland Weiss

Last Friday, a couple of Arts & Business Council of New York staff members attended a City Council hearing on how cultural organizations support New York City businesses, to help Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, his City Council Committee on Cultural Affairs, and the Committee on Small Businesses in their effort to quantify the economic impact of and further connect arts and business.

Department of Cultural Affairs Commissioner Kate Levin was there and talked about the purchasing power of cultural organizations, particularly in terms of local spending in areas such as printing, catering, and equipment rentals.

Councilmember Van Bramer said, “Any time we cut the budget for cultural institutions, we are hurting small businesses.” Here’s what we said:

We all know why 51 million tourists come to New York.

We know that 6.3 million of them come to the Met Museum—so many, the Met is looking at opening seven days a week for the first time since 1971. There’s only one museum on earth that more people go to (the Mona Lisa is there), and no place on earth has the breadth and diversity of museums, and the breadth, depth, and impact of enrichment programs for public school children.

We know that Broadway always has been, is, always will be New York—more than 12 million attendees in 2011, more than $1 billion in ticket sales. How many other, smaller businesses are supported in and around the Great White Way?

We know that almost 200 movies and 140 TV shows were filmed in New York last year. It’s not just Woody Allen and Smash. This is where the top artists want to work, which creates 100,000 jobs for others behind the scenes, every one of whom shops, eats, spends (and pays taxes) in New York. Look at Buttercup and Kaufman Studios. Look at the expansion plans for Steiner Studios.

We know the economic impact figures for New York State are $25 billion a year, and 200,000+ jobs…or maybe it’s twice that by now (those are the Alliance for the Arts figures from 2005)? The most recent Municipal Art Society/Cultural Data Project figures from just 1,325 of the nonprofit culturals show 120,000+ people employed and over $5 billion in direct expenditures—just from the nonprofits. Read the rest of this entry »

Did you know that September is National Preparedness Month? It seems like a strange time of the year to promote emergency preparedness, especially for Atlantic Coast dwellers such as myself. This is one of the most active periods of the year for hurricanes, and I would like to think that any individual or organization would already have a plan in place should they encounter such a natural disaster.

Well, I don’t. I haven’t figured out if the structure in which I live in is sturdy enough to withstand a heavy storm, I haven’t mapped out an evacuation route, I haven’t found a location in my neighborhood where I can seek shelter (I’m assuming it’s a local school, but I don’t even know where that is nearby where I live). I don’t have any of my files stored up in a cloud where I could retrieve them should I lose my hard drive. I’m not prepared.

You think I would have learned better. In September 2005, I was living in Houston when Hurricane Rita hit, and that was right after Katrina devastated New Orleans. Luckily, back then I did have a plan. The fourth largest city in the United States was trying to evacuate and jammed all major thoroughfares to the point where folks ran out of gas trying to get out of the area. My roommate and I mapped out a network of side streets that took us all the way out of the city to his father’s place north of the beltway and out of harm’s way.

So, having escaped that hardship unscathed, you would think I always have a preparedness plan in place, no matter where I live. The truth is, always being prepared for a seemingly rare disaster is a hard thing to keep up with. I’m willing to bet that many of us don’t afford the time to back our work up on a second hard drive, or store extra cans of food and water in case of a power outage, or know where our evacuation location is.

I think it is ingenious that South Arts developed an emergency preparedness tool called ArtsReady for arts organizations. The ArtsReady toolkit tells you what you need in place to have a solid emergency plan. They have the ability to store your files in their cloud for you, they give you all of the information of emergency contacts for you and have even developed a network of participating organizations that you can go to for help should you encounter an unfortunate situation. Read the rest of this entry »