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Developing CIFLive..! #DMA

Jo Bartlett, Marketing & Events Officer, Camberley Theatre shares her involvement as a Digital Marketing Academy (DMA) Fellow.

As part of my digital experiment I have programmed some live streaming events to help promote the Camberley International Festival – and some of the artists performing at it – under the #CIFLive banner. These live streams had been due to take place in the small studio at Camberley Theatre. I arranged for pictures advertising the performances to be made by our in-house design team and along with pushing the event ourselves encouraged the artists to share these across their own social media. Of the three I had booked in, two cancelled on me at very short notice.

img_0625The one we managed to do, with the wonderful Welsh musician, The Gentle Good, (Gareth Bonello) was a success. We reached 1,588 people, had 420 views, 27 likes and 11 people messaged in during the performance with questions to ask Gareth. We streamed live using both Facebook and Periscope / Twitter, and the Facebook streaming was far better in terms of views and interaction. I had previewed the streaming a few times over the days before with short live streams of myself in the theatre’s studio talking about the artist and giving out the timings for his #CIFLive performance.

However, since two of the three performers cancelled on me I have decided to have a rethink. Maybe the offer of coming to the theatre in Camberley to broadcast live to a relatively small amount of people is not enough to entice artists? With the ever increasing easy access for simple live streaming I have realised the need to improve what Camberley Theatre has on offer so that we stand out.

For the one broadcast we did do, we used an iPad for Facebook and an iPhone for Twitter. We invested in a Rode microphone, which we used on the iPad. The quality was ok, but with one static frame and small microphone, clearly there was room for improvement.

We have just invested in a Mevo Camera (£400) and, working with the tech team at the theatre, we will also use a small mixing desk to boost the input and, therefore, sound quality. The Mevo camera will hugely improve the viewing, with close-ups and different angles now being possible. It will also be a great learning curve for myself and the marketing team, to increase our broadcasting knowledge and techniques.

Now, instead of just having the artists perform to no one except myself and my assistant filming in the studio, I have decided to up the ante and organise free to attend parties in the café area of Camberley Theatre. The artists will be invited to perform in front of a live audience. This will also be live streamed using the high quality camera and improved audio devices. I’m hoping that by making more of the live streams, the artists will feel more inclined to be involved, the audiences will increase and the anticipation for the Camberley International Festival next year will be heightened.

My plan is not to just have music at the #CIFLive events but also parties featuring Punjabi cookery lessons in the cafe and contemporary dance in the main auditorium. As we improve our filming skills we will be more capable of organising increasingly complex events. The live streams are scheduled to last an hour and we will have Q&A sessions half way through and encourage interaction with the viewers sending in questions live.

Upwards and onwards!

What’s On Our Menu? #DMA

Rachel Williams, Content Marketing Executive, Barbican shares her involvement as a Digital Marketing Academy (DMA) Fellow.

One of the most beneficial things that has come out of our time as Fellows with the DMA is developing a new way of thinking that our mentor DK has instilled in us. This is by no means a way for us to compensate for the fact that we didn’t manage to achieve all our experiments (we’ll be blaming missing kit, lack of adequate lighting and unreliable WiFi for that).

But nonetheless, what we did achieve was the benefit of having someone outside our team, and indeed our sector, to explore our digital production processes that have become ingrained in our campaign planning (see our first blog post here). Someone who made us question why we did things but also why there was sometimes resistance within the organisation to our ideas. Ultimately, a lot of this came down to a lack of internal marketing for ourselves – letting our immediate colleagues and other departments know what digital offers are available to them.

From this, we have started to develop a ‘Menu’ of content types. The need for a menu stemmed from one too many conversations with team members who were impressed with content created for another team, exclaiming ‘I wish we could do something like that’. To which we’d always reply, ‘Well…you can!’ It was this that led a no-doubt baffled DK to suggest we lay out all the content formats we’ve previously worked with (blogs, long form features, video, apps, interactives, podcasts etc) and encourage colleagues to feed into the decisions about what would be the best content format. But also, adding their respective ingredients – curator time, money, copy writing, platform development, design, testing etc – to the menu for a full disclosure approach to commissioning.

By doing this, we hope to not only be able to increase our output but also improve our content’s success by continually thinking about why we want to make this particular content. What are it’s aims? How much money/time/input will it require? And perhaps most importantly, is this what our audiences want from us?

This is something that often gets nudged down the priority list when it comes to commissioning content – what/who do we have access to? Let’s do a video/podcast/interview! Do our audiences want that? How many tickets will it sell? Do we need it to sell tickets? Will its lifespan exist beyond this one moment?

Questions like this prompted us to write a Digital Strategy, wherein we break down exactly why we do digital and how we do digital as a means of evaluation at every stage in our content process – from briefing to production to publication and promotion.

But there’s no point in having a great Digital Strategy available for people to read if they don’t know what we can actually do as team. So that has to be Step 1 before we can start to roll out the new strategy to the wider team.

With this content menu, the aim is to evolve this into an accessibly and functional ‘Communications Toolkit’ to be shared on our Intranet, letting people in on the processes of how we work, how we commission and how we create content to support their campaigns and projects.

This day-to-day document will sit seamlessly alongside our Digital Strategy, resulting in a digital focused approach we all understand, enjoy and can utilise to ensure every piece of content, no matter how small, will excite and engage our audiences.

Mindset Error #ADA

Image credit: Sculpting Fear By Matrin Wickenhaeuser

Madeleine Wilson, Programme Co-ordinator for Artist Development at South East Dance and an Audience Diversity Academy Fellow is making no apologies for delivering her experiments.

I would like to mention an error I made.

As part of the Audience Diversity Academy, I undertook three new ‘quick and dirty’ experiments for South East Dance: two artist development opportunities and a public project. My aim was to significantly raise the number of applications of those from a diverse background within 6-weeks. The challenge felt huge.

Unexpectedly I succeeded with them all! Not only reaching organisation targets – but exceeding them: diverse applications raised to 24%, then 32% and finally 35% respectively. What’s more it was a thoroughly enjoyable, fascinating process.
My error was this. Mindset. I imagined there being many obstacles between myself and reaching diverse communities. I thought it would be impossibly difficult, that defeat would set in before I had begun. I thought I would be hung-up on. I thought people wouldn’t be responsive and that it would be an up-hill struggle.  Surely I, just me, couldn’t make any real impact?

I was wrong.

In fact, it was alarmingly easy. Not in terms of time: which there was never enough of, or rivalling workloads: which were many. But, I was amazed how much you could do with a phone, pen, paper and a dash of optimism. No large-scale strategy just simplicity. There were so many people willing to help connect me to other communities – if I only took the time to explain and ask.

The public project is one close to my heart – titled ‘Audience Ambassadors’ we offer a free dinner, show, artist meet and behind-the-scenes rehearsal to those who wouldn’t normally have the opportunity. This scheme is aimed at audiences with no previous experience of seeing dance. I rang 35 local charities of which two thirds were able to help me spread the word and suddenly I was inundated with applications. I asked everyone who responded, for recommendations of other people I could contact and gradually built up a database of interested parties. And to attract a broader range of artists applying to our development opportunities, I visited the Hip Hop conference in South Woodford, discovering gatekeepers to more diverse groups.

My brilliant mentor, Mel Larsen, taught me to get on with it, listen carefully and to re-assess all communication – was it inviting to the audiences I wanted to reach? Actually no. It was erring on academic rather than clear. 4 versions later we had an exciting, punchy public project e-flyer opened by 1327 people! Our live event attracted 33% new-to-dance audience members and the project had an overall known diversity reach of 37%. Our artist development e-flyer travelled so far that we had our first application from the Ivory coast… which has opened up further conversations about how we work with international artists/audiences! I acknowledge this is the tip of the iceberg, but I wonder if more of us realised how easy it really was to begin connecting with new audiences whether organisations/venues would be better at it.

Note to self: no more excuses.

Five must haves to develop a more Diverse Audience Base #ADA

Mel Larsen , a Consultant, Coach and a mentor for the Audience Diversity Academy looks at the essential requirements to create a positive impact on your audience base.


It’s been a pleasure to support a number of cultural organisations through the Audience Diversity Academy as they develop their relationships with new and different audiences. Through a series of ‘experiments’ they are testing out ideas and tactics, focused mostly on attracting and retaining more BAME and ‘Hard to Reach’ audiences.

I have spent almost 30 years contributing to the development of greater diversity and fairness in arts funding, marketing and delivery. In the case of attracting BAME audiences the same questions, challenges and excuses arise time and time again. Why is this? Perhaps it’s because important lessons have not been embedded into organisational culture. Perhaps it’s because the impetus to act only arises when funds are available. Or perhaps it’s because there is a deeper, unconscious bias, extreme examples of which have been recently exposed by Brexit.

Acting as a Mentor has afforded me the opportunity to listen to both the public and private hopes and challenges of my mentees. The successes and challenges they have shared with me have again reinforced my view on key things that must be in place to effect real change in this area:

1. A CEO with a Purpose and Vision – without the support of the person in charge it is only a matter of time before the potential for real and lasting progress is de-railed for political, budgetary or resource issues or any number of other reasons. These reasons may seem to make sense now, but, as British demographics continues to diversify at a pace, will look like short-term thinking even by the end of this decade. This is in-depth work that requires commitment and cultural change. It’s called ‘leadership’ for a reason. When diversity is not prioritised or embedded in senior management culture, it will not be embedded in the rest of the organisation.
2. Staff briefing and buy-in – once the CEO is on board, the whole team needs to follow by working to open up access, representation and relationships. Otherwise, goodwill and good work will be sabotaged, consciously or unconsciously.
3. An understanding of your audience – its pretty hard to communicate with a target segment if you know little to nothing about where they can be found, where they currently spend their time and money and what they want. Most of my mentors have found they need come up with cost effective ways to find this information fast. In fact, one person who had next to no information on her targets took my advice, got on the phone to local groups and has now built a very good database and network of contacts who want to help. The results of her efforts showed up almost immediately through the highest inflow and uptake they’ve ever had from BAME applicants for a project.
4. An open-minded culture – although diversity sounds like a simple concept at heart – in this context: recognising and valuing difference – it can become complex due to that very difference. By assuming, ‘we are all the same’, decisions can be made that actually end up excluding people. There is a lot of fear of ‘getting it wrong’, or of ‘offending people’ and this is not totally unfounded: it can feel initially very uncomfortable to wake up to one’s own ignorance or prejudices.
My first advice is that it is almost always better to try something than do nothing, especially when so much advice, support and guidance is available from champions, experts, mentors and institutions locally and nationally.

Thankfully, all of my mentees have been thinking well beyond any fear of failure. They just want to do the very best they can. Sometimes what is required is very simple, as the experiments are showing. For example, a change in words or images used in promotion, a team briefing, different departments working together more closely, meeting community contacts, new programming. Sometimes it can be a little harder: recognising self-bestowed leadership by taking a stand; giving up free time to ensure something happens; or taking on something you don’t feel ready or qualified to do simply because no-one else is going to do it.

5. Persistence and patience – I understand that making changes within an organisation is not always easy and can take time. Ditto with building a new audience. History has shown that those who are of a mind to make a lasting difference need to be persistent and immensely patient. Things are slowly changing, however, with the help of programmes like the Audience Diversity Academy, and there is some good news in terms of resources, ACE has recently put £4.6 million into developing BAME theatre and disabled senior leaders.

I have great admiration for the Academy mentees, who are all clearly committed to change, are willing to try something new and willing to challenge the status quo. They have been working hard and have come up with interesting experiments. I look forward to reporting further on the details of their actions and progress later in the year.

Finding new audiences through Facebook Ads #DMA

Sam Murray-Sutton, Digital and Design Officer at Aldeburgh Music shares his involvement as a Digital Marketing Academy (DMA) Fellow.

Over the last six months, I’ve spent a lot of my time looking at Facebook’s ad platform, for a variety of purposes from job adverts to event promotion. What I’ve discovered is that it can be a costly business, but there’s a lot of potential for finding new audiences. Here are a few tips I’ve learnt that might be useful for my fellow arts marketers:

Create ads through the power editor
Aghh, my head hurts! You may think this too after seeing power editor for the first time, but once you’ve learnt all about it, you’ll be able to create and edit ads so much quicker. Plus it gives you the ability to start creating an ad and come back to it later. And it does make sense fairly quickly, I promise.

Be clear about your objectives for your ads
You need to know why you’re advertising on Facebook. This has two benefits: 1) if you’re not clear about what you’re doing, you can’t measure it properly and you will waste money, and 2) clear objectives make creating your ad easier.

Audiences should be small, but not too small
I’ve found that a lot of our ads work best with 50-70,000 people. I did experiment with many audiences sizes – one issue with some really small audiences, around 6-10,000, was that when it’s that few people you can’t always guarantee enough of them will see it in one time period for any kind of social effect to happen. But this is my experience – you need to test and measure your own ads to find out what works.

Don’t use automatic placement
When you create an ad you get the option to set where the ads appear manually. The options are: Facebook newsfeed, Facebook righthand (desktop only), Instagram, Audience Network. Ideally you should choose this yourself, as ads that work well on Facebook often won’t translate well to Instagram and vice-versa, firstly because the visual format is different, but also because they may demand different writing styles.

Organic still works
Organic posts are still important, although Facebook is very clearly geared towards making money these days and you will almost certainly need to put money behind anything for which you want to have a reasonably-sized audience. But even when creating an ad, an organic-feeling post will usually work better than an obvious bit of marketing. This means ultimately your ad will cost you less money for the same effect.

They are worth doing
Although they can be expensive, time-consuming and tricky, Facebook still represents one of the most direct and effective ways to get in front of new audiences and build or grow your organisation’s following. You just need to be prepared to spend some time doing it – only a structured approach over time will achieve this. While I was focussed on using ads and boosted posts, hopefully you would be doing both ads and conventional posts.

These are some of the most useful things I’ve learnt and I hope they can be useful for you, too. Thanks to the AMA for giving me the opportunity to take part in the DMA programme, and especially thanks to my brilliant mentor Sara Devine, who helped me work through my ideas and gave me lots of great inspiration for future projects as well.

Header image courtesy of Roundhouse © Ellie Pinney Photography

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