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16th January 2019 Jemma Green

Sarah Isaacs — what I loved, what I learnt and how it will help me in the future

Sarah Isaacs | Administrator | China Plate Theatre 

It was brilliant to be supported with a bursary and have the opportunity to attend the Digital Marketing Day 2018 — Future Now at The British Museum, having begun to implement changes across our various communication platforms and generate marketing guidelines which seek to outline how we can collectively and collaboratively use these at China Plate; particularly how we might approach this over the next four years as a new National Portfolio organisation, by considering ‘what might the future of digital look like?’ and how this enables us to fulfill our mission: ‘Challenging the way performance is made, who it’s made by and who gets to experience it.’

As my first event as a new member of the Arts Marketing Association, I was hoping to gain some tips and tools which I could implement and adopt into my day to day work, whilst developing long term strategies. Chris Unitt’s session Data – the basics and how to use it highlighted the importance of checking whether your website is functioning and performing on a practical level. Are there any broken URL’s? Are there any pages not found or unavailable? Does Google understand it as a search engine? Is it user friendly?

Although fairly straightforward, it is often the cogs which are left to rust a little if a small organisation doesn’t have the benefit of a dedicated team of marketers; this was particularly useful to consider having inherited a content management system which has been active for many years, handled by many different users and also exists as an archive. One of my first steps moving forward is to ensure a person’s first encounter via our website does not involve getting trapped in a 404 dead end, and their search for information is clear.

Similarly, understanding that as organisations and as a sector we have to learn how to adapt and navigate digitally in order to engage, retain, expand and serve our audiences, felt like an overarching question to the day; especially in light of Robin Christopherson’s session which explored the idea that ‘with technology came opportunity’ and with it more barriers for people with a disability or impairment. Being challenged and provoked by Robin to understand that many forms of technology can create accessibility catch 22’s, emphasised the need to integrate accessible tools and apps like World Lens or I-voice at the beginning and throughout the creative process if we are to provide truly inclusive digital experiences.

Part of that is acknowledging our responsibility in contributing to those barriers and how we present information; also it is about taking the time as producers to find out what technology is available, how we can action change and ‘invite meaningful dialogue’ by allowing for and taking risks. Anne Lise Kjaer captured it well when she said ‘inclusion drives creativity…we should get familiar with the unfamiliar…we don’t need a budget to be creative’.

Suhair Khan’s from Google Arts & Culture therefore was a brilliant session to end as it championed the idea that information shouldn’t be locked away or for a privileged few but it can be for everyone – anywhere in the world. We can both digitally enhance the past (as seen with LIFE magazine’s photographs, or CyArk which is digitally preserving world heritage) and also the future by inviting people to interact with works of art online (with the aid of the Art Selfie, or through high-resolution images which enables an experience akin to viewing an artwork in person).

As an individual who learns by example it was fantastic to have case studies running throughout the day, and I feel like I have a really useful applicable list of reference points, tools and incentives which I can impart to the team and interweave into my marketing guidelines. If there was one phrase which resonated most it would be ‘Sync work and play like a futurist’ – which for me spoke about lifting our head above the parapet, being creative and looking forward as we lay our digital footprints.

 

My 3 top benefits of attending Digital Marketing Day 2018 were:

  1. Practical applications – tools – processes
  2. Greater understanding of integrating accessibility
  3. Digital knowledge base broadened

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