After the blog series and presentation on orchestras and new media, I have just finished an e-book called “Orchestras and New Media: A Complete Guide.” In this book, I look at the current print environment and arts coverage, followed by the new media revolution and what it means for orchestras. Alongside a description of tools and sites, I offer thoughts on how to adapt your press materials and how to measure your results. A SWOT analysis includes examples and two brief case studies provide more insights.
The past 30 years have seen a significant proliferation of arts organizations and activities throughout the country. Cultural participation is up, yet arts coverage in print is down. But it would be an error to attribute this downturn to an attack on the arts. Newspaper circulation numbers have been going down since the mid 1980s; from a daily circulation of over 63.3 million in 1984 to a daily circulation of 50.7 million in 2007. On the other hand, monthly unique visitor numbers for newspaper Web sites rose from 41 million in January 2004 to 75 million in January 2009.
In the past decade, the Internet has moved to more participation (encouraging contributions), openness (no barriers to content and feedback), conversation (listening, not just broadcasting), community (gathering around a common interest), and connectedness (sharing content).
Seeing the decline in traditional arts coverage and the proliferation of culture, brands and media, the inevitable, it seems, is an increase in participation, openness and connectedness with your community, invigorating the conversation about the arts. And new media is here to help.
Survey the environment, determine what you are trying to accomplish and then find the right tools that work for you. The best advice to start? Just explore! Here are some of the places you must know about: blogs, Facebook and MySpace, Twitter, Flickr and YouTube, Digg and Delicious, Yelp, Wikipedia and Last.fm.
Connect with bloggers and content generators: read (know who is writing and what they are writing); participate (become a genuine and active member); build relationships (provide good customer service); and adapt materials (personalize your pitch and remember you are working with a multimedia outlet).
Social networking sites are the embodiment of new media; more than any other service they encourage participation, openness, conversation, community, and connectedness. Keeping that in mind, your approach to social networking should be based on the following three rules: add value; online relationships complement offline relationships; and provide content to be shared and syndicated.
Sharing content, word-of-mouth, is one of the key strengths of social media. Measuring results, however, especially return on investment, can be difficult. Page views and unique site visitor statistics can only tell you so much; they don’t tell you what kind of activity. In its most basic form, your measurement should consist of the following elements: interest: how interested are people in your company; attitude: what attitudes do people hold about your company; action: what actions that matter from a business perspective do people take as a result of your campaign?
The last step is to determine what impact these results have on your organization and the future actions of your organization. From a detailed SWOT analysis, the following recommendations ensued: use your strengths as cornerstones for strategy (content, brand, audience and infrastructure); pursue market opportunities best suited to your strengths (maintaining strong relationships; extending the life of a performance; other geographic and demographic markets; and collaborations and partnerships); and correct weaknesses that impair pursuit of market opportunities or heighten vulnerability to external threats (budget for new media; hire or train staff; review limitations of media contracts and copyrights; and keep track of changes in technology).