Sunday, March 11, 2007

Thinking about creating a blog (Part 2)...

If you are thinking about creating a blog for your organization, there is one thing I cannot stress enough: make sure those who will be contributing content have bought into your idea! I have created a couple of blogs for different organizations, and I must say that I have learned this the hard way. Don't get me wrong. I think that blogging is very effective if done right, but that is a really big IF. Many organizations launch blogs and don't do it right, and when the blog fails they blame it on the ineffectiveness of the technology.

Readers of a blog don't want to get hit with your marketing messages! If you try a hard sell technique with every blog, of course your readers are going to start tuning out your blog. You need to offer your readers a reason to read your blog, and a way to do that is to offer exclusive content that they can't get anywhere else. This is the reason that while at Virginia Stage Company, I started to post video clips of rehearsal and "behind-the-scenes" footage on our blog. People want to hear from the artists. They want to see what is going on behind-the-scenes. No matter how effective you are at crafting marketing language, I am telling you now that they don't want to hear from marketing people.

So this leaves us in a pickle. It is a great way to market our organizations and create stronger bonds with our audience, but we have to rely upon our artistic staff (at least in part) to populate the blog with content. So before you launch a blog, make sure that there are several people on your artistic staff that would be willing to take some time out of their day to share their experiences. Without their input, the blog will be boring.

On a side note, in a conversation I was having a little while ago, I heard one artistic person say to a marketing staff member that they weren't interested in blogging because "getting the word out about the show wasn't their job." Let me leave you with these thoughts, and yes they might be a little controversial--if you want a paycheck, or better yet, the opportunity to produce your art, then yes, it is your job! I once worked for a very well known producing artistic director who at every annual meeting said to all the staff "you might work in another department, but remember we all work for marketing and development." And he was an artist! But he understood that in order to produce his work, he had to help with getting the word out. In my experience, I have found that many more artists are willing to help out if given the proper direction than unwilling, but if you get into a situation where the entire artistic staff isn't willing to help market a production, you have a problem. And the organization you work for has a much bigger problem. Just my two cents...

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