On February 28th at 12Noon, Chad Bauman and Brad Stephenson will lead the next installment of our A-ha! Leadership Webinar series, “Demystifying Technology: Marketing and Publicity in the New Economy.” They kindly took a break from their busy schedules to answer some anticipatory questions about the themes of the Webinar, including how theatres can use new media to reshape themselves as content providers.
1. This webinar will focus on how theatres can reshape themselves as content providers. If you had to distill this webinar to the 140 characters of a tweet, what would that tweet be?
Brad Stephenson: Conversations about your organization are happening online. You can’t beat ‘em… so join ‘em. And do it efficiently.
Chad Bauman: Control your own destiny by covering yourself, engaging new audiences and deepening current relationships. (I am bad at tweeting).
2. Share a success story of how these principles have made a difference for your organization.
CB: Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater just hosted a national #newplay convening with over 100 leaders in the newplay sector attending. The convening kicked off with a speech by NEA Chairman Rocco Landesman, which was live-streamed to hundreds of locations all over the nation. In addition, tweet masters and bloggers were writing real time updates. Chairman Landesman made a now famous line of inquiry into supply and demand in the arts, and the conversation exploded all over the nation, with major traditional press outlets like the New York Times citing the Arena Stage blog. Thousands of visitors flood our blog to read about the experience, and then went onto Livestream to watch the video. It caused Chairman Landesman to issue a formal statement, at which time, he suggested using the hashtag #supplydemand on twitter to continue the conversation. Use it–take a look at what people are saying.
BS: Helping organizations understand how to incorporate video on their sites affordably and with little stress has been huge. Great for engagement, SEO, online social cachet, etc.
3. What are some challenges organizations face integrating new media into their marketing and public relations strategies?
BS: In my experience, the biggest challenge is never the creation of the platform; it’s always the development of the content and developing content with enough frequency. You must have a story to tell.
CB: I think all organizations are trying to figure out how to track the effectiveness of social media. Given that we are still in the global economic crisis, and organizations have to maximize every dollar they spend, many marketers want to know if it is worth it.
4. Do you think new media has stabilized, or are their even greater seismic shifts in how we communicate around the bend?
CB: Each time there is a presidential election, there is a significant shift in communications strategy. So I for one, am looking forward to 2012 to see what’s next. I don’t believe new media has stabilized. I think it will never be “stable” in any meaningful way as it is ever changing. The next major shift in communications strategies for arts organizations will be when Gen X/Millenials start to dominate cultural venues rather than the Baby Boomers. That won’t be for a decade or two, but it will be a massive change.
BS: I think we’ve reach a bit of a plateau in terms of online communication style (short form, microblogging, etc.), but I expect new platforms to continue to be created.
5. Innovation: buzzword or imperative?
BS: Buzzword, in my opinion. I prefer to say that an organization doesn’t need to be an innovator to succeed; it just needs to challenge itself.
CB: “Necessity is the mother of invention” — we are innovating because we have to. In many ways, I believe the global economic crisis has forced arts organizations to examine out of date business models.
To register for the webinar (free to all Member Theatres!) click here.
Brad Stephenson is the senior web media and marketing manager for Carnegie Mellon University’s Heinz College, where he coordinates all print and digital communication. He is also a freelance technology consultant for artists and arts organizations, providing guidance with web development and social media integration. His previous position was with CMU’s Center for Arts Management and Technology, an applied research center that investigates technology solutions for the arts field. Brad also is a very active member of the theatre community in Pittsburgh, PA, where he founded and produces an annual ten-minute play festival. Brad has a BFA in acting from the University of Kentucky and a Master of Arts Management degree from Carnegie Mellon University.
Chad M. Bauman is the director of communications for Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater, where he supervises the marketing, media relations, publications, sales and front of house departments. He was recruited to join the company in the fall of 2007 in order to develop strategies to guide the company through a 2.5 year transition period while a new $135 million, three theater complex was being built. During that time, he worked on three Broadway transfers (Next to Normal, 33 Variations and Looped), led a rebranding campaign and project managed Arena’s transition to Tessitura. Chad recently served as the lead producer for the Homecoming Grand Opening Celebration for Arena’s Mead Center for American Theater. Previously, he was the director of marketing and communications at Americans for the Arts, the nation’s leading not-for-profit organization for advancing the arts in America. At Americans for the Arts, he was responsible for all earned revenue goals, branding, strategic communications and promoting the organization’s more than 480 different programs. Chad is a prolific speaker who has presented sessions at the National Arts Marketing Conference for the past four years, and is regularly hired as a marketing consultant by organizations from around the country. He was an Ahmanson Scholar at CalArts where he received his MFA. in Theatre Management and Producing. In his spare time, he writes and maintains an arts marketing blog at www.arts-marketing.blogspot.com