It seems as though every time you turn around people in the orchestra business are clamoring to start podcasts, begin blogging, and get on iTunes. Sure enough, more than a few orchestras have done exactly that; nevertheless, I have to wonder how many groups looking to move in this direction have really taken the time to think about what it entails to effectively implement those tools…
Over the past few weeks I’ve had several discussions with colleagues about the seemingly frantic pace at which some groups are putting together technology offerings. Often, I find myself wondering how much time they spend considering the nature of each one of those tools.
For example, is it worthwhile to have a blog if all it is used for is to regurgitate concert schedules? Are podcasts meaningful if they are little more than a “book on tape” version of program notes or an interview with the music director which rates just below the quality of a vapid morning show celebrity interview?
Instead of examining examples of the above indiscretions (oh my, there are plenty to pick from), I’ve put together a simple list of three considerations designed to help better understand the inherent value in some of the more recent technology based tools available to today’s orchestras:
- Ask yourself “what’s a blog?” If you said it is anything other than an online publishing platform that lists entries in chronological order then you need to take a step back and begin your thought process from scratch. Before starting up a blog think about what you’re going to say, how you want readers to respond, how often you can post, and whether or not you’ll allow or edit comments. Regurgitating PR copy is simply unacceptable, instead, you need to see blogging as a tool to help build an ongoing connection with your audience. When approached in this way, you’ll be in a better position to understand the amount of time, effort, and trust in your readership it takes to successfully wield this particular tool.
- While you’re asking yourself about the nature of blogging, do the same thing for podcasts. After all, podcasts aren’t much more than an audio version of blogs. The sincerity of content, who it is that you select to speak to the public, and the frequency of those efforts will determine whether or not the endeavor will be worthwhile.
- Where’s the value in establishing an ancillary web presence at sites such as MySpace and Facebook if the content is nothing more than what you can already find at the organization’s official website. The same perspective on developing your primary website is 100 percent applicable toward any other web based effort. For instance, if your MySpace page is nothing more than static brochureware then you probably shouldn’t bother allocating resources in that direction. Instead, you have to offer the public something that enhances what is already available at your website as well as offering something entirely unique.
In the end, blogs, podcasts, and the lot are nothing more than tools. They are no different in nature than all of the other tools developed over the years orchestras have taken advantage of to help spread awareness and fulfill their mission. The only real difference between now and then is that new tools are emerging at a faster rate.
Like most tools, it takes time to develop the necessary skill capable of wielding them with a capable hand. Furthermore, seeking out guidance and learning from those who have successfully ventured into this territory can accelerate the learning curve.
Ultimately, there needs to be substance, sincerity, poise, and dedication to make those tools worthwhile. Otherwise, you won’t realize that you are merely grasping at shadows until it is too late.