Museums and Heritage Show 2011

Museums and Heritage Show 2011My first gig back at Audiences London (after 9 months on maternity leave…) was at this year’s Museums and Heritage Show at Earl’s Court.  AL was again invited to curate one of the seminar series (making it our third year at the show).  So amongst the giant blow-up frankenstein monsters, a multitude of audio guide providers, interpretation experts and cabinet makers and a frenzy around social media… we offered a tranquil space to think about visitors.

Sarah Boiling and Sangeeta Sathe of South London Gallery talked about the virtues of sustained audience monitoring in the context of the visual arts benchmarking project. Quickly followed up by a focus on segmentation, the driving force for a collaborative project and campaign byLondon’s orchestras to attract those less knowledgeable about classical music.  We then took a quick trip into the world of tourism with highlights from Susanna Mann from the Royal Collection on Group Tour Organisers and Operators.  Another royal connection followed as Helen Ball talked about the FUSE project developed with the Royal Parks to engage young people with the arts organisations surrounding the park. And finally a romp through any other kinds of relationships that organisations had developed a sustained…

Relationship building themes of the day for me were… know your visitors; hand over the reins to your visitors – give them the opportunity to develop ideas and run the show once in a while; collaborate and the return on investment can last for years; and finally keep evolving, don’t stand still… and you’ll  have more engagement, income and happier visitors!

Developing mobile phone apps

On 30 November I attended the AMA’s Digital Marketing Day and went to a great session about mobile applications led by @LoicTallon of Pocket Proof, ‘an independent design consultancy specialised in mobile experiences for museums’. You can see Loic’s presentation slides here, but here’s a summary of his key points:

Now that everything is possible thanks to the development of digital technologies, we have to ask ourselves what’s worth doing? Remember it’s not about the technology but the experience that you offer.

Here are some links to examples of good apps:
MoMa
AMNH explorer
Museum of London streetmuseum
Mercedes Benz Museum
Tate Trumps
Smithsonian Institute

And some bad reviews for the Lonely Planet city guides apps. These were launched as free downloads in response to the volcano crisis back in April – generating lots of good PR at the time, but as they were just the books in mobile application form they were very usuable.

Be aware that what works with one audience may flop with another

To ensure success, define your objectives clearly at the outset and know your target audience. This will help inform your design brief.

Consider the strengths and unique qualities of mobile technology
Don’t just put a book on an app. Think – why mobile? Why not a brochure or an audio guide?
Mobile is good for supplementary information and interactivity
Mobile is:
–          Personal
–          Digital
–          Connected
–          Mobile! But so is a leaflet or a book, so really think about why you are choosing it
–          Interactive

Manage expectations when developing an app and avoid scope shift for your project
Choose the appropriate level of technology for your organisation’s experience, skills and resources

Keep it simple, stupid!
Pocket proof’s industry survey shows that those who aren’t yet using mobile technologies are more ambitious (and unrealistic?!) about how it can be used

Don’t underestimate how big a job content creation can be – plan it in from the start to allow sufficient time and resources

Plan sustainability from the outset too
–          How can you update content?
–          How can you update branding?
–          Can you migrate the experience to new platforms?

Launching your app is not the end. You need to test, evaluate, develop, market it…
Test and evaluate throughout development and implementation, and measure it against the points above – i.e. experience, objectives, audience, expectation, simplicity – not just numbers of downloads. There is no way to track app usage or link to physical venue visits – though you can set up updates and track interactivity.

And finally – Loic thinks it’s easy to attract sponsorship for apps – so if you think this platform is right for your organisation – find a sponsor and get developing!

Who are these Cultural Tourists we keep hearing about?

Besides coming along to our symposium which will answer all your questions about the cultural tourism market (shameless plug = 25 May, Tate Modern, book now via our website here!) we’ve now published the second of our free guides to get you thinking about these potential audiences.

The London cultural tourism market: definitions, facts and figures is your quick reference guide to the key information about what cultural tourism is and how it links to the arts and heritage sector.

Fed up of tourists getting in your way? Get them in your venue instead!

Our Cultural Tourism event on 25 May is fast approaching and in the lead up to this jam packed programme we’re publishing four FREE resources to give you some top tips and tools for attracting visitors to the capital to your event or venue. That’s over 25 million potential audience members!

This first short how to guide outlines the number of ways in which Visit London can help you signpost your organisation to visitors to London, including useful guides and toolkits, marketing and PR opportunities, editorial and event listings. Download this document from our website here.

Upcoming resources include:

  • Essential facts and figures on London’s cultural tourists.
  • 2012 opportunities for attracting cultural tourists.
  • Glossary of tourism terms

Sign up to our newsletter here to hear about them first. Oh and do come along to the event, we’d be delighted to have you along.

Wish You Were Here… Cultural Tourism for arts and heritage in London
25 May 2010, 10am – 5.30pm
Tate Modern, Starr Auditorium & Foyer
Price: £95.00 +VAT | Early Bird Rate £75.00 +VAT (Book before 6 May)
www.audienceslondon.org/wishyouwerehere
Book your place now

Need to Know – Graham Leicester and Ulster Bank

Our fellow audience development agencies and other colleagues got together last week for a couple of days in Durham to take part in ‘Need to Know – Audience Development in the UK – from understanding to engagement’. Long title. Good debates.

I particularly enjoyed Graham Leicester’s philospical discussion of ‘making money and making meaning’. I’m not going to fully do it justice here, and it’s not published yet, but keep an eye on International Futures Forum. Graham proposed that we continue to measure the value of arts through proxy rather than real measures – and are still bound by an economic model of value. He suggests that we should consider ‘experience’ as a currency in an ‘economy of meaning’, in the same way that, say, votes are the currency in the economy of a democracy. The value of culture is therefore in providing experiences which are the currency in this ‘economy of meaning’….

He also spoke about the work of Watershed in Bristol which is playing out some of these ideas in practice.

Equally interesting and totally practical was Julie Murray from Ulster Bank who spoke very engagingly about how they use information about their customers to develop their business. From benchmarking to mystery shopping and propensity modelling to reactive analysis – she shared lots of examples of  using customer insight that were very transferable to arts organisations. If the slides get published I’ll follow with a link.

Exploring potential online audiences

The first IT4Arts seminar of 2010 kicked off with some really interesting content about how companies and organisations are trying to provide cultural content online.  We heard from:

  • Gavin Bayliss, LSO Live – Gavin spoke about how LSO are moving towards sharing more video content of the orchestra’s work, and an insight into how they engaged new audiences worldwide with the YouTube Orchestra project
  • Robert Delamere, Digital Theatre – Unveiling the new company, Robert gave us an exclusive peek into how Digital Theatre are recording live performances seamlessly, and the high demand for their downloads
  • Joanne South, Arts & Business – Joanne explained a bit about A&B’s current research programme into user-generated digital content and how they’re supporting partnerships between cultural organisations and those specialising in digital technology
  • Tobey Coffey, National Theatre – the NT has been moving on leaps and bonds in how much content it creates for each new show. Toby gave us a whistle stop tour of the process they go through to create digital content for their website before, during and after the creative process
  • Richard Davies, British Library – Richard shared with us the challenged the BL has faced in prioritising and managing the digitising of their (approx) 6 billion pages of literature
  • Fran Birch, The Theatres Trust – the Theatres Trust has been collecting archive images and information about the UK’s theatres for over 30 years. Technology has now enabled them to catalogue and share the data they have for education and heritage purposes

A fascinating and educational day! If you become a member of IT4Arts you can download the presentations for free from their website, and joining is free!

Top tips for charity communications

dsclogoI recently went to the Directory of Social Change’Charity Communications training day, and good value it was too. I attended some very good seminars by ngo media and virtual construction (set up by a very nice chap called Matt Haworth I used to work with in Manchester!).  The sessions were practical, encouraged networking and were definitely thought provoking, I recommend DSC training days very much.

My top tips from the day are:

  1. Always ask for something – whether it’s just a signature or a donation, it never hurts to ask but do try to offer something for free in return!
  2. Keep active – good for SEO and client relationships and trust. Keep your content fresh.
  3. Personalise – when sending communications make sure it’s from a real person that your clients or supporters can interact with should they wish to.
  4. Plan – communications plans do take a LONG time! Never underestimate how many people will want to give you their input, and how hard it will be to get the input from the people you need it from!
  5. Evaluate – always try and track your communications, who they reach, who reads your stuff and what kind of impact it’s having on your business.