Chicago Symphony Rolls Out Some New PR Bling

Right on the heels of the How To Connect With New Media series of articles the Chicago Symphony rolls out an updated press page at their website which contains some of the items from my Marketing Wish List

I’m still going through all of the changes on the site but some of
the components that caught my eye were the dedicated RSS feeds for
concert events and radio broadcasts. The ultimate fire and forget PR
tool, RSS feeds are one of the most effective, yet underutilized, tools
orchestra marketing professionals can take advantage of. Although it is
great to see the addition of RSS feeds I hope the Chicago Symphony will
take the additional steps to create fine tuned feeds for individual
concert subscriptions and key word based custom feeds.

One of the next components that caught my attention was the
surplus of Social Networking shortcuts. Although you can say that the
addition of social networking badges could be pandering I don’t think
that’s the case. For example, although it is still called a "Press
Room" there is ample evidence that the Chicago Symphony is gearing up
toward building some sincere connections with non-traditional resources
such as this statement at the very top of the Press Room introduction

Welcome to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Press Room…If you cannot find the information you are looking for or
need to speak to a member of the public relations staff immediately,
please contact us at one of the numbers below.

This is good move in the right direction and if other
orchestras follow suit and raise the bar by expanding on the offerings and adopting a similar attitude toward new media outlets,
it is only going to move the business toward a better place sooner than

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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2 thoughts on “Chicago Symphony Rolls Out Some New PR Bling”

  1. We’ve been using the social networking chicklets all season with our release feed. You can check them out here:

    Thanks for pointing that out Jason, although in all fairness I should mention that the CSO has been using social networking shortcuts all season as well, but it seems as though they’ve expanded on them. The real benefit are hose RSS feeds. BTW, I stopped by the Akron page and I like that you are taking advantage of some widgets but the upcoming events widget came up blank in FireFox and produced an error msg with IE7.

    Stability with widgets is an ongoing battle. I cut back on the number used here because they kept slowing down page loads or coming up with error messages. Even the widgets from major providers, like Amazon, are sketchy; I’ve had to yank that widget from time to time due to terribly slow server connections. this is why, at least for the time being, RSS feeds tend to be a better, and at least more reliable, tool. ~ Drew McManus

  2. Thanks Drew, for this article. I’ve been very anxious and excited to get the press room launched. I’m curious to see its effects over the next couple of weeks and eager to think about future features.

    I believe it is very important to reach out to new media outlets (see on how not to do it). Just yesterday, the well-read Chicago area Web site asked about our Beyond the Score series. I was happy to point them to the dedicated site at, but I also wanted to let them know they could embed a YouTube video on the series in the article if they wished. They didn’t end up using it, but it was neat to be able to offer the possibility.

    I know the press room is a work in progress and new media brings many great opportunities, so I more than welcome any suggestions and comments like the idea of custom RSS feeds.

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