Are Arts Managers Worried About the Wrong Bad Thing?

I realize that my persistence in writing about newspapers threatens
to turn this blog from one about online marketing into something quite
different, but arts marketing and the health of newspapers are
completely intertwined. I don't see why more people in the arts
marketing field aren't in as much of a panic about the imminent demise
of the newspaper industry as we know it as they are about the economy.

Every day now on Facebook I read friends' posts who work for
newspapers and are worried about losing their job, or fearful that
their papers will go under entirely.  There's even a "Don't Let Newspapers Die" Facebook group that has 69,000 members. Amazing. It
seems like this noise
level about this kind of thing is changing from a din to a cacophony,
even in the last few weeks.

Look, the moment big cities lose
their only major newspaper is the moment that arts marketers are on
their own — meaning, you're now 100% in the world of direct marketing.
(Let's set aside radio and TV as practical options for most
organizations.) In this scenario, those that haven't built a huge e-mail
list will be faced with the unfortunate realization that traditional
direct mail is not a viable alternative. 

I'm turning up the volume here because yet another article in today's Times
has foreshadowed exactly what I'm talking about. The most telling line
of the article: "But no one yet has unlocked the puzzle of supporting a large newsroom purely on digital revenue." That's the
issue. There will be news. It just won't be produced by major newspapers
that dominate the information landscape in each city.  

encourage you to read the Times article, as I think it offers a
balanced view of what's going on as well as some quotes from pretty
smart VCs about what kinds of news sources may replace a major

As the tectonic shift in our economy is happening in
front of our eyes, this newspaper thing seems to be equally as
significant. And, frankly this is what I've been saying for about
seven years now, and why I wrote three books on this topic. It's
exactly what our Patron Technology is all about: If you build a direct relationship with your members and donors, you don't need an intermediary any more.

the ability to build this relationship isn't based on
technology alone. Yes, you need great technology. But you also need expertise (and non-profit expertise doesn't come from the cheapest systems).

What you need is to deeply understand how e-mail and
digital marketing works — what techniques are best for building your
list at your venue, when to send e-mail to your patrons, and how to get them to click on your "Buy Tickets" links. And since
technology changes every six months, you need to keep up with it.

is why we give over 30 seminars a year, and this is what we'll be talking about
this weekend at the ArtsReach pre-conference on Saturday. If you're in New York City and you're not
signed up yet, I hope you'll come. I'm giving a
hour-long talk about my vision of how the next five years of technology
changes will dramatically improve not only arts marketing, but arts management as well.
And Michelle Paul, our resident Facebook expert, will explain how to connect with your audience on Facebook — something that is quickly turning from a side-show
into a big deal.

Technology is a tool — not a technique.
Technique and tactics come from education, case studies, and expertise
— something I hope our industry recognizes sooner than later.

Learn More about PatronManager, the powerful CRM platform that helps you sell more tickets, raise more money, and cultivate stronger bonds with your audience, all in one database.

One response to “Are Arts Managers Worried About the Wrong Bad Thing?

  1. Gene: You write “If you build a direct relationship with your members and donors, you don’t need an intermediary any more.” That is somewhat true. In our market, the public seems to take great stock in what the local theatre critic has to say…they look for the 4 star reviews and then come. I can see a huge drop in attendance if newspapers (and theatre critics) disappear…these are people who have earned their trust and respect over the years.

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