Are you an AMA member? Please log in

Join me at the dinner party


Cath Hume, AMA Head of Programme, invites you to join her at our next dinner party.

I’m really excited to be hosting another of our dinner parties for senior marketers. If you are a manager, head of department, director or freelancer these dinner parties are for you – a unique opportunity to network, raise your profile and contribute to the sector.

The next one will be in Leeds on 24 November at the beautiful Brasserie Forty 4 and we’ll be discussing the implications of the EU referendum on our sector and audiences.

There are obviously huge changes that will take place over the following months and years. I’m interested to hear the immediate impact the referendum outcome may have had on you or your organisation, whether you’ve put any plans in place or on hold, and how you may adapt your future mission based on the decision.

This topic is hugely relevant at a time of great change – how can we as arts, culture and heritage organisations remain relevant in an ever-changing external environment? How can we be most resilient during this time and into the future? The dinner party is a great opportunity to share your thoughts with peers and the wider sector, bring your questions and join the debate.

We started this conversation at our conference in Edinburgh earlier this year, just after the news of the referendum outcome had broken. The room was packed and the discussion was passionate. If you were there, let’s continue that discussion. If you weren’t there, let’s start a conversation. See you at the dinner party in November.

Book your place at the AMA dinner party.

Brasserie Forty4, Leeds

Brasserie Forty4, Leeds.

Reach and engage more people through your online channels

Internet and social media infographic

Do you have great online content that noone is seeing? Does your latest tweet stand out from the crowd? Do you want to engage more people through your online presence?
This infographic shows how vital it is that your online content is engaging in order to reach the right people at the right time.

Discover more about how to make your online copywriting work harder, go further and be more effective at our new one-day conference Online Copywriting Day – Every Word Counts at Southbank Centre on 3 March.

Digital Storytelling masterclass

In the build-up to the AMA’s masterclass on mobile media marketing on 17 June in London, trainer, blogger and social technologist Christian Payne (AKA @Documentally) tells us why he finds digital storytelling so rewarding – and reveals what to expect from his upcoming event. 

Christian Payne

I’m really pleased to be able to run another masterclass for the AMA. The flow of inspiration when I work with the arts sector is never top-down. There’s always a room full of creatives sharing and collaborating before, during and after the event.

Of the events I’m running at the moment, I find story-making the most rewarding. Whether we are pitching ideas within our organisation, giving a virtual backstage pass to our projects, or sharing content to build our networks and curate audiences, we use stories in every area of our lives. To entertain, explain, educate and engage. We are made of stories.

I believe we all need to take a step back and hone these story-making skills. Whether it be for home, for fun or for professional use, these skills can be used across platforms, across networks.

What is it about?

In my next masterclass with the AMA, we will be using today’s tools and platforms for documenting and sharing, connecting and curating. All that’s needed is a mobile device or tablet to create and share a story of your own.

This event will let you document and share your environment via a mobile device and learn how to upload multimedia from anywhere to anywhere. The course is aimed at artists, marketers and storymakers looking to create, curate, post and share multimedia on a mobile device, be it a smartphone, tablet or iPod touch.

You will learn…

  • How to choose the right equipment and apps for your needs
  • How to create and share multimedia from any mobile device
  • How to take better photos on your mobile phone
  • How to record, live stream and share video on a mobile device
  • How to hone workflow for cross-posting and sharing
  • How to keep your devices powered up in the field
  • How to share a mobile data connection with multiple devices

Intrigued? I hope you can join me in my upcoming masterclass in London on 17 June. Find out more and book online now.

From Russia with engagement

How can cultural organisations engage audience on social media? Anna Mikhaylova, Social Media Mediator at the State Historical Museum in Moscow, describes their experience in going from no engagement to healthy interaction.

State Historical Museum. Photo: Georgy Sapozhnikov

State Historical Museum. Photo: Georgy Sapozhnikov

Moscow’s State Historical Museum (SHM) is one of the biggest museums in Russia. The museum started using Facebook and Twitter (@1stHistorical) in 2010. However, there was no clear understanding of how to do this, or even why.

Initial approach

The first three years saw a “copy and paste” approach to social media activity: the museum simply republished information from the official website on social media, with no audience interaction. At the end of 2012, the Ministry of Culture started requiring museums to provide data on the use of social media. Staff at the SHM knew the situation had to change dramatically. Read more

Becoming a social arts organisation

Ahead of next month’s CultureHive briefing on the topic, Rachel Coldicutt of creative agency Caper introduces the concept of the social organisation and asks how arts organisations can move towards being truly social.

The Social Organisation

In their Quarterly Digital Briefing on Social Data (2011), Econsultancy created a four-stage model to help businesses become social organisations, showing how social media activity might grow from being ad hoc marketing to permeating the entire business. What would a social arts organisation look like, and to how would it behave?

The following table outlines Econsultancy’s Social Organisation model:

Social as a tool Social as a channel Social as a platform Social organisation
Main objective Listen and reach – achieve a critical mass of audience Participate and publicise – broadcast standard marketing via social media channels Engage and capture – understand sentiment, measure engagement and drive purchase intent Build and propagate – unveil patterns among interactions, deepen relationships
Systems and processes No guidelines or policy No consistent standards for engagement and facilitating interaction Policy and guidelines formulated, dedicated roles. Social media performance dashboards Fully integrated tools and systems, social media strategy in line with business objectives
Leadership and culture Decentralised / distributed, experimental phase. No dedicated resources ‘Pockets’ of social media activity within departments, no department manages or co-ordinates efforts One department controls all efforts; hierarchical structure Cross-functional social media teams, collaborative culture. Co-ordinated use of data/findings
Customer experience Directly addressing comments, reactive, often taken by surprise Basic customer service via social channels, focus on sales Social data in CRM. Social used as a lead generation and service channel Seamless customer experience across all touch points. Loyal communities
Measurement No measurement Measuring direct ROI of social Measuring total ROI of social Use social to measure ROI of social and non-social channels
Use of insight Basic listening, focus on reach/volume of brand mentions Identifying influencers / advocates / detractors Product and services development, cultivating relationships with influencers, building advocacy Listening integrated with internal processes for change.

It is worth noting that this was developed for the corporate sector, so the scale of return and investment is sizeable: 22% of the US companies surveyed worked for clients earning more than $1bn, and in Europe 46% for companies with revenues of more than £50m. In many instances, the people creating the integrated social dashboards were agencies, not lone marketing managers looking after physical and digital. While this scale of activity might seem unachievable at first glance, the underlying model can help arts organisations to integrate social thinking and practice into their organisational strategy and development.

Being Social

Many arts and cultural organisations were “social” before digital communication was invented. The reason it’s so difficult to see the stage in a horseshoe theatre is because, in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the main attraction was seeing – and being seen by – other members of the audience. Likewise, anyone who has spent an afternoon in the British Library will know that social dynamics are at play even in the quietest corner of the Reading Room. So how does the online experience differ?

The first difference is that organisations use social media to drive audience reach and engagement. Few social strategies serve a core audience; they aim to widen appeal and understanding, sell tickets and raise awareness. In this context, the meaning of ‘social’ is radically changed: no matter how popular a destination your organisation is, it is no longer the venue for the conversation. Instead, it’s part of a much wider conversation – and understanding how your content appears and functions in this wider milieu is an important first step to developing the confidence to behave as a genuinely social organisation.

To read on, download the full paper on the Social Organisation from CultureHive.

Rachel Coldicutt will join Andrew Campbell to explore how these concepts impact on the cultural sector in London on 8 October 2013. Book your place at the high-level CultureHive Briefing now.

Outsourcing social media management

In this special two-part blog post from two creative digital agencies, Sarah Morris, Marketing Manager at Sequence, makes the case for arts organisations to outsource their social media management, while Tom Beardshaw, Partner at Native HQ, says organisations can only retain their voice by keeping social media in-house.

Photo used under Creative Commons from marriedwithluggage

Why consider outsourcing your organisation’s social media management?

When you want to grow or when social media is eating up too much time: The size of your arts organisation is a key factor when considering your online strategy and whether you want to keep online communications internal or external. If you have a large company with many strands to your digital strategy, it may well need a number of people on the campaign at specific, busy times – for example, during the launch of a new show or after a big announcement. Alternatively, keeping up with the constant distraction of having to check all your social media platforms and responding in a timely way can be particularly difficult for a small team who are already maxed-out with work.

When you need to formalise the process: This brings us to the major drawback with regards to keeping social media in house. It’s on a par with your own website. Client and essential production work takes precedence every time over spending time representing yourself online. Social media gets relegated to the bottom of the pile for too long; it gets neglected. If you commit to a contract with external support providers, it raises the level of respect for the task. You are also committing to providing the credentials they need to do the job properly and on time – otherwise it’s your own money you’re wasting.

Read more

What the shit is wrong with us?

Reacting to a recent debate on Twitter, AMA vice chair and Director of Communications at The Place Tim Wood considers some barriers to arts marketers feeling empowered at work, and what can be done to overcome them.

Porl Cooper wants to know what the shit is wrong with me. He’s doubtless not the first to wonder this, and in fairness his question, posed in a tweet a couple of weeks ago, was not aimed at me directly, but at venues – like mine – that had yet to let their patrons know about the My Theatre Matters campaign, and specifically at people – like me – who do the marketing for these venues.

Now I could blow this off. It’s only Twitter, where we all know haters gonna hate. When someone I don’t know instinctively dislikes me, I tend to think – as has been said of predisposed antipathy towards some politicians – that they have saved themselves some time. But Porl Cooper is a colleague in my industry, liked and respected by people I like and respect. So maybe it is worthwhile to spend just a moment examining what, indeed, is the shit wrong with me.

Read more

Creating beautiful infographics for marketing the arts

Emilia Spitz and Linda Uruchurtu of digital arts marketing consultancy Lume Labs share their thoughts and tips on planning, commissioning and producing your own data charts and infographics.

We love infographics. They’re a catchy and effective way to convey a visual message, with an added narrative flow. With web tools speeding up the production and dissemination of content, data visualisation has come a long way since the days of black and white print. Thanks to publications like Wired and Wallpaper, and social sharing sites like, infographics have become an interesting example of the intersection of medium and message.

Fig1Infographics can be downloaded, shared across social networks like Facebook, Pinterest, and Tumblr, and even printed out as posters. First, let’s take a look at how arts organisations can use them. An infographic could be used:

  • To highlight a season, performance or event
  • To give background information or context to an interesting topic
  • To break down data about the organisation at public and board presentations

We were recently asked by the Royal Opera House (ROH) to produce a graphic to illustrate upcoming work in their 2012/13 season. The brief was to condense, in one image, data for both the Royal Opera and the Royal Ballet, keeping a balance between the ROH’s traditional visual identity and a modern look.

Our first step was to identify the key messages, and to think about how these could be understood visually. There are many factors to consider here, including design, clarity and visual appeal.

With the surplus of visual information on the internet, a well-thought-out infographic should be able to convey a number of messages whilst looking attractive and clean. The ROH is a large organisation, and there was an incredible amount of data at our disposal. Our job was to navigate this data and select only a subset of stories. With our client’s input, we focused on:

  • Productions
  • Live cinema screenings
  • Popular composers and choreographers
  • Premieres
  • Pricing (40% of tickets under £40)
  • Regular artists and visiting companies
  • Social networks

Fig2Once we had decided on each section, the next step was to think about the design. At this stage we always find it helpful to sketch out some ideas. In order to strike the right balance between dance and opera, we opted for a beautifully-lit picture of the house itself as a background (pictured above).

Illustration and typefaces set the tone of an infographic, so it’s very important that they resonate with your target audience. Here, for instance, it made sense to adopt the same typeface routinely used by the ROH in their marketing campaigns (pictured right).

Simplicity is always best when organising and presenting data. Pie charts, bar charts, Venn diagrams, Tables, Word clouds are all fine, but they shouldn’t be thrown together in the same chart. Pick just a few that work – you can see which styles are most popular across the web in the ‘Infographic of Infographics’.

Fig5The overall look of a chart gives you an additional opportunity to develop the story. For instance, instead of bars and impersonal shapes, we used icons that evoked the art form, such as ballet dancers.

Finally, text and numbers can be used to support the stories; but in charts, think of text as bursts of information rather than long sections.

Adobe Photoshop, Fireworks and Illustrator are fantastic tools to create charts. For those on a very tight budget, consider freeware like GIMP, and in the absence of someone in-house to assist with the graphic design, there is now a selection of user-friendly online tools available, including:

We used a combination of Photoshop and Illustrator. The background photograph was processed in Photoshop with a Gaussian blur filter to make it less sharp. The image was then imported into Illustrator, where text and simple, white shapes were created with the pen tool, with varied levels of opacity creating a contrast between objects (below left).

We sketched some icons, which were scanned into Photoshop, cleaned up, and traced in Illustrator (below right). Alternatively, you could draw the icons from scratch within Illustrator using the pen tool, or buy in vector art from online suppliers like Shutterstock and Vecteezy.


Once it was ready, the completed infographic was exported from Illustrator as a JPEG so it could be posted to the ROH’s social networks:


Hopefully this has given you an insight into how an infographic is created. If it has piqued your interest in infographics, or made you want to create your own, here are some further sources of inspiration:


Emilia Spitz and Linda Uruchurtu work with companies to develop their online voice, producing content, delivering advice and assisting with strategic planning. They can be found at and on Twitter as @lumelabs. They also blog at The Ballet Bag, a dance webzine named one of the “100 Best Arts Tweeters” by The Times.

Change of details?

If you would like to change your contact details or organisation please get in contact with us.