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!

Road to Damascus

Just back from an amazing week in Damascus, Syria talking about audience development.

The trip was facilitated  by the British Council and consisted of two days contributing to an international cultural management course  followed  by a lecture at the Damascus Higher Institute for Dramatic Art and a materclass at the Syrian Opera House.

The cultural management course included delegates from Syria, Egypt, Oman, Jordan, Palestine, Morocco, Algeria, Yemen and Mauritania.  It was a privilege to spend time with these bright, passionate and ambitious  arts workers; to hear about their  achievements and work out how we could apply arts marketing principles to their very different situations (censorship and secret police….). The course took place in the fantastic location of Gallery Mustafa Ali, a traditional Damascene house in the old city,  that is now a sculture gallery, arts venue and simple hotel.    

Above; the first of many delicious meals, breakfast on my first morning, and below;  Gallery Mustafa Ali.

The course is organised by  Al Mawred Al Thaqafy (Culture Resource)  a non-profit organization based in Cairo that  supports artistic creativity and creative exchange in the Arab region. Running since  2006 and previously taking place in Marrakesh, Amman and Algiers, this annual cultural management course for delegates from across the Arab world is always heavily over subscribed.

This is the group at the presentation and party on the last day of the course (apologies its a bit dark, you might be able to just make me out in the centre)

More to follow on other aspects of the trip.

The Art of Making Videos – Part 1 : The Basic Rules

Can you remember the last time you watched something on the internet? The chances are that you probably can, and that it was pretty recent. Thanks to websites like YouTube, it’s easier now more than ever to upload and watch videos online. I couple of weeks ago I went to a really interesting session on producing video content for online and mobile platforms, hosted by Openmute for the Art of Digital London programme.

By the end of the session, I realised just how important it was for arts organisations to make the most of the opportunities which video hosting can bring- whether to enhance a website experience, to market a certain performance or to just spread the word about something. I took down too many notes so I thought I would share some with you, and will host new topics on here through the next few days. Today, we will focus on the basic rules behind producing video content.

Before you begin embarking on a video project, ask yourselves:

– Who is the target audience, and where will they find your film?

– What are the objectives for the film? Is it to inform, is it to boost awareness of something, or to promote a production?

In trying to answer these questions, think about these tips:

– Length of your film- the general rule is not to exceed 5 minutes. If you think you have too much footage then produce two different versions – one can be 20 minutes long and one can be a condensed 3 minute version.

-Particularly for arts organisations, it is so important to convey the fact that downloading and watching a video is not the same as witnessing the experience in real life.

Explain your production rather than just showing the highlights. Film some audience feedback, or interviews with actors and directors. This grabs the viewer’s attention and arouses curiosity much more than having all the good bits served up on a plate! It’s important to mention here that there are always copyright issues when it comes to broadcasting artistic output (be it a performance, or even the music used as a background). Also be aware of the fact that even though a musician or actor may allow you consent to use their material in a video, this may at times still be unlawful, so always consult with the relevant unions prior to undertaking any sort of filming.

– And one last tip: avoid trying to intentionally create viral videos- these very rarely become star attractions, and your audience are savvy enough to realise if something has been staged.

A great example of an organisation demonstrating these guidelines are the Zurich Chamber Orchestra, who I have featured on this blog before. Check out their famous video below- I hope it inspires you!

That’s it for today. Next, we’ll be looking at all the different ways to distribute a film online.

Pass it on…

Interested in the power of word of mouth marketing? Well then read on…

Here at Audiences London I’ve been developing new work about Arts Ambassadors recently.

So now you can check out our free resource online, watch me get interviewed about the 3 success factors for ambassadors by our friend Mel Larson or join me for my next seminar next Thursday.    Be sure to check out Mel’s great arts ambassador resource too.  If you’ve got questions about ambassadors or examples to share let me know.

Websort – another quirky online analysis tool

sticky notesI thought I’d share a clever analysis tool I used recently. It’s called Websort and it basically replaces the need for those ‘post-it’ exercises where everyone tries to categorise and group things under similar headings with sticky notes (that generally end up stuck under your shoe) by doing it all through an online interface. It’s been particularly useful for finding out how people like to navigate categorisations on websites. There’s a free 10-user trial version available from the Websort website and is well worth a go.