Tag Archives: artists

artists break rules

I’m on my way up to Boston in a little while to lead a workshop on Getting the Word Out for artists at a conference organized by my friend Kathy Bitetti, executive director of the Artists Foundation.  I’m pretty excited about it — it’s my favorite thing to do, work one-on-one with artists and arts organizations who are feeling their way around social media, trying to build relationships, broaden audiences, and generally raise their visibility.

So I was thinking, trying to come up with recent examples of how an artist or arts organization had succeeded in galvanizing me to come see a show, buy some art, or show my support in some other tangible way, and I only had to think back a few nights, to last Friday.

I had gotten home from school, pretty tired after my long commute, but excited about the long weekend ahead.  Sitting in front of my computer, catching up on the blogs and the twitter streams of my friends, when I received a quick and short little email from the theater down the street.

It was a reminder about the terrific review they had just received from the local paper for their current production, The Invisible Man.  It also reminded me how much I had wanted to see that show before it closed.

End result? I closed my computer five minutes later and headed down the street to see the show. Why is this worth remarking on? Well, it struck me that this email I received broke some classic advice about “effective online marketing.”

Who sends an email promo out at 7:00 pm on a Friday night? Anyone will tell you that it’s sure to be overlooked in Monday’s flood of competing emails, meetings, and crises.

But it was the right thing for the theater to do, because they got me at exactly the right time to make a decision.

Also, that email didn’t have a prominent Call To Action like it was supposed to.  It just pointed me to information I was interested in — how this local reviewer felt about the show — and let me take it from there.

In these harder economic times, we may be tempted to get a little harder about the sell in our online communications, try to push for more returns, more revenue, because that’s what it’s all about, right?

But the social web runs on relationships.  It runs on quirky, and it thrives on rule-breaking.

This is especially true for artists and arts organizations, and it reminds me why we need special gatherings like today’s conference in Boston, just for the arts community.  There’s a lot of advice out there for how to use social media for business, but some of it doesn’t apply to artists, or to cultural organizations.

Lots of it does — especially the basics, which always apply: Be Real, Be Honest, Be Helpful.

But the implementation might vary significantly for you if you’re an artist, a theater, a museum.

Artists, as we all know, are different.

And isn’t that one of the best things about them?


microsoft office live small business (for artists)

David Pogue of the New York Times reviewed the new release of Microsoft Office Live Small Business on Thursday, and made one of his trademark, quirky videos to tout its value to small businesses.  What caught my eye in particular was the fact that he chose to use an artist as his case study for the target user of Office Live Small Business.

Watch the video.

In short:

Office Live Small Business (O.L.S.B.) is a centralized Web site where you can set up all of those small-businessy things — a Web site, an online ad campaign, e-mail promotions, in-company communications — all by yourself, even if you’re not very technical. For the first time, these big-league tools are within your reach, partly because you don’t have to hire somebody to set them up and partly because many of them are free.

This is what I’ve been telling artists and cultural organizations for some time now — one of the most exciting new developments in this whole “web 2.0” nonsense is that you can do all kinds of technical things now for free or very little money and with no real technical knowledge.

What makes Office Live Small Business so compelling is its sharp focus on a single problem: that half the small businesses in America, and 70 percent of one-person businesses, don’t even have Web sites.

Yes, it still required some digging to find the various purveyors of all the different pieces of the puzzle — get that free basic rate from Constant Contact for your newsletter, get a free blog hosted on WordPress, sell your goods online with Etsy — but it was all there, waiting to be assembled.

Well, the equivalents of some of these pieces have all been assembled, for free, by — of all companies — Microsoft.

I expect this package will be compelling to artists (sole proprietors) and cultural organizations (corporations, of the 501 C3 variety) alike.  As Pogue rightly points out, this package is innovative, focussed, and game-changing.

And totally surprising, coming from Microsoft.

what artists really want

I’m working on a series of topics for a course this spring — a syllabus, for an eight-week evening class. The course is for artists and cultural organizations, to teach them technical skills that will help them market themselves better and reach new audiences.

In years past, the topics have been pretty basic stuff, like:

  • How to write a press release
  • How to create an artist’s press package
  • How to write an artist’s statement/bio
  • How to work with the media
  • How to brand yourself

I really want to take it step further this year and help artists learn about and how to use some of the web 2.0 tools we’ve been bandying about these parts for some time. But I’ll need to make it very accessible and non-scary, as some artists can be a little gun-shy when it comes to computers and technology.

What topics should I include? What web tools are of actual use to artists trying to reach a broader market? What tools are of actual use to theaters, museums, and historical societies? Which of these are free, and don’t require a lot of specialized technical knowledge to implement?

Here’s what I am thinking about so far:

  • Blogging
  • Photosharing (flickr)
  • Social Networks (myspace, facebook, myartinfo, others)
  • Second Life
  • Twitter
  • Etsy

The course has eight sessions. Each class lasts about two hours, all told.

Here’s how you can help:

  • What other topics should I offer?
  • Who would be the best person to present these topics?
  • Do you have their number?

I *could* present on most of these topics myself. But that hardly means that I’m the best person for the job. What do you think? (I’m submitting this to twitter and I’ll post responses as they come.)

Ronna Porter Ronna @bethdunn How about a theme around helping artists to tell their story, using whichever medium works best eg. video/audio for non-writers?

Dave LaMorte DaveLaMorte @bethdunn: I think that there is a lot of interesting stuff that is allowing artists to interact with their audience directly.