How To Connect With New Media: Action List

A number of readers have requested a condensed, list-style version summarizing the main points from the How To Connect With New Media series of articles. Since the majority of those requests originated from Weekly Email Summary subscribers, what better way to demonstrate how much reader feedback is appreciated than to offer this article as a special “Subscribers Only” installment. If you missed any of the original articles in the series you can find them at the “new media” section at Adaptistration’s category archive.

Here is a list of points to help performing arts organizations (orchestras in particular) identify, contact, and maintain relationships with new media outlets.

    Make certain you’re familiar with the distinctions between the five predominant forms of culture oriented new media outlets:  Blogs, Discussion boards, Podcasting (audio and visual), Social networking websites, and Wikis. Maintain a database of individual outlets based on subject material, author’s location, readership, and frequency of publications. This will be invaluable when you determine which new media outlets are worth approaching throughout the season.

    The new media environment thrives on reciprocal interaction. As such, you’ll improve the likelihood of new media outlets taking interest in what you’re promoting if you’ve demonstrated that you have an interest in them. This involves passive involvement, reading content, but also active involvement, posting comments and/or sending email messages to the author. Be careful to distinguish active participation from direct pitches and attribute online comments to your real name.

    New media outlets have taken the first step by creating their outlet and performing arts organizations can respond by demonstrating a sincere interest in seeing those outlets thrive. Providing that the outlet has demonstrated their credibility, show that you care by offering them the same level of deference you would offer any traditional media outlet. After all, the savvy marketing professional understands that the cache of good will they cultivate with new media outlets is portable. Drop the marketing jargon, most new media outlets identify that sort of lingo with a pariah. Finally, don’t forget that the currency of most new media outlets isn’t cash, it is attribution so link up and include mention of new media outlets in your marketing material when applicable.

    Abandon the traditional shotgun-style generic press release when communicating with new media outlets. Send personalized email messages (read: not “personalized” form letters) and mention how what it is you’re pitching directly connects with an outlet’s topic. Make it obvious that you know more about the author than simply their name and email address. Remember, your intent is key so don’t send a pitch that comes across as a media leech: only taking and never giving.

    Provide online marketing tools relevant to new media outlets such as RSS feeds, multimedia content offered under a Creative Commons License, and provide explicit instructions on how to properly use content offered under a traditional copyright license. Make certain your website provides a way for new media authors to properly identify and contact your public relations department.

    You’ll do nothing but spurn new media outlets by constantly referring to them by traditional media terminology. It projects an image of ignorance indifferent, however, start off by adopting generic language until you’ve confirmed all relevant details; i.e. newspaper, blog, journal, discussion board, magazine, etc. You can then make any necessary determination based on each individual outlet.

    The business of performing arts will need to be vigilant when to work against inadvertently projecting an image which reinforces stodgy, exclusive, or elitist stereotypes. Creating an institutional policy that identifies and discriminates against new media outlets only perpetuates those images and further divides the performing arts from the mainstream cultural consciousness. To that end, don’t be afraid to offer a new media outlet some exclusive information. You can even go so far as to use this to test their credibility.

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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