Arts Blogging Workshop Recap
Yesterday I attended the Arts and business council of greater Boston’s national workshop on blogging. I gave a presentation on blogging 101 to the group, and three other panelists joined me in a discussion about blogging for Art’s non-profits. I had a really great time, the audience was great, and a lot of thoughtful questions, and the contributions of the panelists were excellent.
I thought I’d list out some of the questions I prepared for the panel discussion. If anyone has any thoughts on these questions, or would like to ask more please comment.
-How should an arts organizations approach other bloggers if they want to connect with them? What should be the strategy of interaction?
-Jack Wright mentioned that there is less coverage of the arts, and where it does exist less deep in the mass media today, how can blogs help arts organizations to get better coverage?
-With sites like Channel9, Bayosphere and Slashdot providing different models of blogs and social networking. What is a blog? (Bill Marx's question)
-H2Otown http://h2otown.info/ is a local blog set up by Lisa Williams to encourage local citizen journalists to blog about their hometown of Watertown. How does the appearance of such community citizen journalism blogs affect arts organizations? How can an arts organization benefit from such sites?
-Apple recently launched its video Ipod, how will this new technology affect arts organizations?
-How should an arts organization develop its blogging online policy? What elements should be included?
-The Howard Dean campaign is probably one of the best examples of blogging being used for volunteer activism in action. Why do you think the campaign was a success when successful? And how can arts organizations use those lessons learned to help with their fundraising and volunteer campaigns.
-Why is personality important in developing a voice for your blog?
-Robert Moffitt, the Communications Director for the American Lung Association of Minnesota wrote the following about his decision not to allow comments on his non-profits blog.
We will not allow (as many blogs do) unedited comments to be posted on our blog. While this decision may seem to run counter to what a blog is supposed to be, I felt it was important not to allow our new site to be high jacked by critics of Minnesota smoking bans.
Did Bob do the right thing, what does he gain from not allowing commenting and what does he lose?
-Following on -- Many arts marketing and PR people are scared of blogs from the perspective of criticism of their art? Are they right?
-A recent report by Advertising Age Editor at Large Bradley Johnson noted that about 35 million workers -- or one in four people in the U.S. labor force -- spend an average of 3.5 hours, or 9%, of each work day reading blogs.
At what point, or at what length of time, does the use of company assets for personal activities become unreasonable?
Posted by johncass at November 10, 2005 10:41 AM
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Just from my end, I can tell you that I make an effort to reach out to local arts organizations. Just this year, a 30,000 square foot arts center opened in Watertown -- there's nothing like this in any other Boston suburb, and the theater, gallery, and classroom space rival many Boston facilities. Given that what used to be there was a Superfund site, it's big news in Watertown, like a rose garden springing from a dump.
I make sure I'm on the press release lists for the center and for the arts organizations that have a permanent home there (like the New Rep). I'd prefer to receieve them via email, but mostly I get them via postal mail.
Part of the reason there is little coverage of the arts center and arts in Watertown in general is because our local newspaper is owned by a chain. All the newspapers in the chain share the same final two sections of the paper, including the Entertainment section. So there's essentially no prospect of regular coverage of the Watertown arts scene, because the people in Needham who get the same paper would get sick of it pretty quickly.
I would cover arts organizations (including the Arts Center) if:
--They had online calendars (or better yet a weblog)
--They had an RSS feed of events and news (I especially love informal entries on "hey this interesting thing happened today")
I don't know where to find a consolidated calendar of all things happening at the Arts center -- I have to go and look for each individual group. Given that some groups might stage only one performance, I probably miss stuff.
At H2otown, individuals can sign up for an account and get their own sub-blog. I'd give my eyeteeth if someone from the Arts Center started blogging there. The local paper is not panting to give a page to an arts organization. For smaller arts and civic organizations, H2otown is a cheap (nay, free!) way to have their own web presence with a blog, calendar, photos, and they have the advantage of having it on a site that already has a lot of traffic. We already have a number of civic organizations doing this.
By the way, is that Bill Marx the BUR theater critic? WBUR has a nice arts section on their site, but it doesn't have an RSS feed, so I forget to go visit.
Posted by: Lisa Williams at November 10, 2005 1:27 PM
Thanks for the great post, and explanation of some of the issues your multiple blog faces in writing about the arts in Watertown.
By the way have you been to Springstep in Medford, that's an amazing facility, and opened in the last few years.
Bill is the theater critic, WBUR has an arts blog now.
Posted by: john cass at November 10, 2005 1:42 PM