Why Performing Arts Organization Blogs Suck

Well, not all of them; in fact, some are downright terrific. But the reality is far too many are terrible simply because they fall victim to some of the most common blogging bear traps. I’ve been writing about these traps and how to avoid them for years now but sometimes it just seems to stick better when you hear the same advice from someone else. As such, I want to point out a wonderful blog post by Paul Boag, a UK Web designer, which was featured at smashingmagazine.com on 9/9/2009…

cancelGranted, Boag’s piece is geared toward for profit organizations but don’t let the heading of his post fool you. Even though he titled the piece 10 Harsh Truths About Corporate Blogging all you have to do is swap “Corporate” with “Orchestra” and you’re all set. Of particular note are items five through eight, so make sure you take the time to read each of those thoroughly.

Item number eight, Marketers often make bad bloggers, is terribly important as it addresses one of the most common fears I encounter when talking to arts administration professionals about institutional blogging efforts. As Boag points out, it isn’t as though marketing professionals are bad bloggers by nature but traditional marketing and PR training are counter-intuitive to good blogging practices. Boag’s solution is for marketing professionals to serve more as editors than authors, facilitating good content and regular publishing schedules.

Unfortunately, this is where trepidation among performing arts marketers kicks in and I think those concerns are entirely justified. Fortunately, the answer is pretty easy: outsource it. I’ve been offering those precise services via my consulting work for years and am always happy to talk to potential clients about their options. In a number of cases, the best program is to simply train existing staff in the ways of blog shepherding, build confidence, and move away from needing any outside help at all. The costs are much more reasonable than expecting a third-party source to handle everything on a day-to-day basis (like a managing editor for a traditional media outlet) and can produce enhanced long term results.

In short, organizations which figured out just how beneficial blogging can is jumped into those efforts a few years ago and are now in a better place to reap related benefits as traditional marketing efforts sag under the weight of a stagnant economy and budget cuts. But the good news it is never too late to start and there’s no better time than the beginning of a season to get a blog up and running.

So read Boag’s piece, check in with all the new media/orchestra blogging advice here, download my How To Connect With New Media eBook (it’s free!) and get cracking.

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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