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29th July 2016 Verity Sanderson

Small but perfectly focused #AMAconf

Jackie Crichton

Jackie Crichton, from Playwrights’ Studio, received a Creative Scotland bursary to attend AMA conference 2016 – here she shares her thoughts.

For me, the AMA conference included a plethora of new experiences. It was my first AMA conference. The first conference that I’ve attended as a delegate. And, it was the first time that I’ve dedicated more than one full day purely to marketing.

This must sound ridiculous to AMA members who live and breathe marketing day in, day out. I usually describe my Administration and Communications Co-ordinator role as being one third administration, one third project management and one third marketing and communications. This makes it nearly impossible for me to have a full two-day period where marketing is my primary focus.

The AMA conference was brilliant for that. It carved out the time from my week to think solely about marketing. To be energised by great campaigns like #ThisGirlCan in one session and to gain functional knowledge about accessible print in the next. This illustrates my take home learning from the conference: a duologue between inspiration and practical skills.

If I were going to pick a favourite session it would be the Pecha Kucha-style breakout session – Organisations that are on a mission to matter. The conference was excellent for opportunities to concentrate – to think strategically and deeply. This session was the perfect antidote to that. It comprised of inspiring, fast paced presentations from a range of exciting organisations including the Jewish Museum London, Liverpool Philharmonic and National Museums Scotland. The snapshot, pictorial structure seems designed for attention spans that are too used to Twitter feeds: it suited me perfectly.

The Google Analytics seminar was the session that contributed the most to my ‘to do list’ (in a good way). Mary Butlin from Tonica Insight was clearly an Analytics ninja. The structure of her presentation made a techy subject into a highly relevant marketing tool. She also shared her slides on Twitter afterwards, meaning that I can refer back to her eight top tips in times of Google Analytics confusion.

And then there were the people. I’d heard ahead of time about how I would meet everyone at the AMA. Which is an intimidating prospect. I did meet a lot of people and I spoke about plays and playwrights to anyone who would listen. In return, I learnt about some amazing organisations and projects. My favourite was almost certainly chatting about Mahogany Opera Group’s Lost In Thought (the world’s first mindfulness opera) over a lunch break.

The opportunity to meet people whose work echoes my own was really valuable. Peer-to-peer knowledge exchange feels like the cheapest and most worthwhile training course. For the price of a Brew Lab coffee, you can learn from someone else’s mistakes and successes; and, of course, contribute your own stories of woe and triumph. I’m embarrassed to say that it took a national arts marketing conference to properly meet an arts marketer who works on the floor below mine. Needless to say, we’ll be grabbing a coffee soon!