Posts Tagged ‘Marketing and Social Media’

FY12 Mini Retrospective

Monday, July 16th, 2012

Each June 30, the fiscal year comes to close providing AHCMC staff, board members and you, our constituents, a perfect opportunity to reflect on all we’ve accomplished this year. Below you’ll find a “snack size” retrospective our FY12 work.

2012 County Council Potluck

Our Vision: To provide leadership that sustains arts and humanities organizations, artists and scholars and inspires participation in our County’s rich cultural assets.

Our Work:

  • Advocacy – Successfully advocated to state and local legislators and secured $95,000 increase to FY13 budget for arts and humanities, reinstated Public Arts Trust budget and helped keep funding level for at State level.
  • Outreach – Coordinated 4 professional development,  6 capacity building, and 8 grant workshops serving 150 individuals. Learn more.

    2011 Executive's Awards

  • Montgomery Traditions – Added five new stories about traditional artists in Montgomery County to our new multimedia website
  • Kramer Gallery – Curated six exhibitions of Montgomery County artist fulfilling the goals of the 2001 Cultural Plan to provide “at least one visual art exhibition space to display work by county artist.” (Recommendation 2.4 pg 59)
  • NonProfit Energy Alliance – Signed up 60 local nonprofits that will collectively save an estimated $511,000 while supporting clean sources of energy. Approximately 23 million KWh of Wind Power has been purchased, which is equivalent to offsetting about 35 million pounds of CO2 or to removing 3,000 cars off the roads. Non-Profit Energy Alliance was chosen as a recipient of Washingtonian Magazine’s 2012 Green Awards!

    Student Violinists

  • Public Arts Trust—worked with County lawmakers to reinstate funding for PAT. Initiated a comprehensive survey of the 868-piece collection; prepared for reinstallation of Penguin Rush Hour mural at the Paul S. Sarbanes Transit Center

  • Marketing – Produced two issues of The Guide to Children’s Art Activities serving the families of 70,000 MCPS elementary students and 2500 library patrons. Completed a successful marketing campaign for that increased web visitors by 180%. Coordinated print and digital cooperative ad buys that served 75 constituents. Provided visitors to with 100 event and programs each month. Sent event data to three other online calendars reaching a total of 40,000 viewers each month. Learn more and join.

What was your favorite program? the Parent Blogger Brunch? the CVC Mixer? a ELO summer program?  Comment below and let us know! We’d love to hear from you.

Link Roundup: Facebook+Instagram, arts education and creativity tests

Friday, April 13th, 2012

What a week! Here’s what we tweeted this week:


Takeaways: As a digital native, I’m definitely guilty of this: “watching” a show on TV while working on my laptop (switching between Word, Facebook, Twitter and Gmail) while having my phone handy for miscellaneous things (like Instagram, which is only available through iPhone and Android). It’s turning our brains to mush and making things difficult for marketers. Not great for anyone involved.


Takeaways: The internet was all atwitter of Facebook’s one million dollar purchase of Instagram, and here’s one digital strategist’s take on it: this is “the official shift to an image-powered web.”


Advocacy activities regrettably got in the way of posting #WednesdayWinning and #ThursdayTips articles on their respective days, so here they are, under the #FridayFun hashtag:

Takeaways: Such a great story of how arts education helps kids build confidence and become lifelong artists!

Takeaways: It’s Friday. Test your creativity a little!

As always, follow us at @creativemoco!

Link Roundup: Pinterest, Maryland Arts Day and how to be creative

Friday, February 10th, 2012

Each workday, we tweet articles that might be helpful to other organizations and companies. Here’s what we posted this week:


Takeaways: The buzz around Pinterest is growing, especially with new data showing that it refers more traffic than Google+, LinkedIn and YouTube combined. I personally don’t think this means that all brands have to be on it, but if it makes sense for yours (visual art, interior design, photography, etc.) and if you have time to invest in it, I think it’s worth checking out.


Takeaways: This is an interesting infographic that explores companies’ feelings about their employees’ use of Twitter, but the thoughts expressed here can definitely extend to employees’ use of social networking in general. The main takeaway is probably that social media training and an online communications policy are key to avoiding any snafus that may put your organization in jeopardy.


Takeaways: We were in Annapolis for Maryland Arts Day and had the opportunity to speak with the legislators above, as well as Delegate Mizeur and Comptroller Franchot. Just search for #MDArtsDay2012 — you’ll see tweets from arts advocates all over Maryland!


Takeaways: These thoughts from Sir Ken Robinson talk about how to be creative, the role of a creative leader and how creativity is not an afterthought. It’s a seriously inspiring and affirming read; take a few minutes out of your day when you need a pick-me-up!

Don’t wait until Friday for the digest; follow us at @creativemoco to get our daily articles in real time.

Link Roundup: Editorial calendars, tablets and No Talking Tuesdays

Friday, January 27th, 2012

This week was a very exciting time for us in the Twitterverse — we crossed 1,000 followers! Thank you to everyone who has been on this journey with us!


Takeaways: Getting organized is always a good thing. To help you think through what you need to post about and when on your various social networking platforms, an editorial calendar can be your savior.  I started doing scheduling out topic ideas in an editorial calendar a couple of weeks ago and it has worked wonders!


Takeaways: People are increasingly giving and getting tablets as gifts. While this article talks about how tablets may be used in education, it makes me think: how does this increase tablet ownership affect or enhance work specifically in arts education, development or marketing?


Takeaways: And the case that arts & culture are economic drivers keeps on building! Information from the Michigan Cultural Data Project shows that for each dollar the state of Michigan spends on arts and culture, $51 goes back into the state economy! Also, in Detroit, 28 organizations had total direct expenditures of $127+ million and employed 2,657 staff.


Takeaways: Sisarina co-hosted the tweetup referenced in #MondayMarketing’s article, and of course, they have great content marketing in the form of a great blog. This post lists five ways they’ve become more efficient, including No Talking Tuesdays. Intriguing, no?

Be sure to follow us at @creativemoco for our daily articles, and comment below or tweet us with article suggestions!

Link Roundup: Timing Facebook posts, arts education and influencing styles

Friday, January 20th, 2012

Here’s a summary of the articles we tweeted this week:


Didn’t post an article this week due to our office being closed for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. There’ll be one next week, promise!


Takeaways: Basically, the first paragraph of the article: “The average news feed post by a Facebook Page receives Likes and comments for 3 hours after being published. To maximize the engagement, impressions, and traffic driven by the news feed, Facebook Page owners should wait at least 3 hours between posts.” Makes sense.


Takeaways: This article reiterates what us arts managers, educators and advocates have known: that arts education teaches skills like collaboration, confidence, accountability and effective communication, and that these skills are essential for the 21st century workforce. Also, follow our friend Shoshana at @AudienceDevSpec; she’s always tweeting interesting and useful articles!


Takeaways: This article identifies five influencing styles (how one impacts others’ ideas and actions) and points out that there’s an effective and ineffective way of using each one. How will you adjust your communication to make collaborating more efficient?

Be sure to follow us at @creativemoco, and comment below or tweet us if there are articles you think we should be tweeting!

Link Roundup: Customer service over Twitter, jazz masters and removing clutter

Friday, January 13th, 2012

Each workday, we tweet articles that might be helpful to others in the arts management field. Here’s a summary of the ones we posted this week:


Takeaways: Social media users care if they see unanswered questions or complaints on a company’s social media page — only 11.7% users said they wouldn’t care. The others said they’d be less likely to buy anything from that company, and 49.5% feel that they’d probably be ignored too. The lesson? Reply to questions and concerns!


Takeaways: YouTube is a platform to engage on beyond uploading videos — much like Facebook or Twitter, “follow” your funders and partners by subscribing to their channels and display them proudly on your channel. And, if you haven’t yet, apply for Google for Nonprofits to have access to YouTube for Nonprofits.


Takeaways: What can we say? We’re thrilled that these Jazz Masters were honored. Congratulations to the National Endowment for the Arts on 30 years of the NEA Jazz Masters program!


Takeaways: Basically, remove some of the clutter from your life!

Don’t wait until Friday to see which articles were tweeted — follow us at @creativemoco!

Prayer is not a good marketing strategy!

Thursday, November 17th, 2011

Marketing in today’s global economy, social media-mania, info-obsessed takes a lot more than prayer. But what exactly does it require? What makes a good marketing strategy?

In the next few blog posts, your AHCMC Marketing Team, Shellie and Megan, will explore that question based on knowledge gained from our three-day experience at the National Arts Marketing Project Conference. We’ll share golden nuggets from the sessions, presentations and discussions we attended. We’ll share creative ideas we heard from the new friends we made and friends representing cultural organizations spanning the continent from Saskatoon to the Big Apple.

First, maybe you’re wondering what is NAMP? The National Arts Marketing Project is a program of Americans for the Arts focusing on bolstering marketing skills for cultural organizations. NAMP produces an annual conference, hosts monthly webinars, organizes regional training programs, and provides on-site workshops on a range of arts marketing topics. Click over to for more information.

This year’s conference was held in Louisville, KY, home to the Muhammad Ali Museum, the Louisville Slugger Museum, bourbon and horse racing. Some 500 marketing specialists from the US and Canada showed up for the conference, texting, tweeting and social networking like there was no tomorrow. In fact, our own Megan (@andmegansaid) was recognized for her tweeting prowess at the end of the conference. Her award? A five-bottle bourbon sampler. Not bad!

This was one of the most exciting conferences I’ve been to in a while. The energy from this crowd could have powered all of downtown Lville—maybe it did. I loved the exchange of ideas whizzing around the conference hotel from dawn to ah…dawn. (These marketing people don’t seem to need sleep.) It was like being immersed in a creative think tank for 72 hours. What a rush.

The conference theme, Winning Audiences, is especially poignant in this our third year of the recession. As cultural institutions around the country face tighter and tighter funding, we must turn to more creative and well-informed marketing strategies to engage with audiences that share our core values. Not just to get butts in seats, but to connect in deep and meaningful ways. (Though, no one would turn away a  butt who wants a seat.)

I was heartened by the depth of research organizations had undertaken and their willingness to share findings with this broader audience. While all these studies were specific to a particular geographic region or a discipline, I found incredible value in all of them and key information that I can use today in understanding the needs and motivations of our MoCo audiences.

So over the next week, keep your browser tuned to Megan and I will post the most relevant lessons we learned as we seek an answer to: What makes a good marketing strategy.

Making Friends with Bloggers

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011

So you want to pitch to a blogger. Great! You’re hip to the times and ready to open some new channels. The important thing to remember here is that new media is all about relationships. Different bloggers have different preferences for how they want to receive pitches/press releases and some bloggers don’t want a pitch at all.

Here are the basic steps:

  1. Find a blogger and read their posts
  2. Build a relationship
  3. Pitch your story

So let’s walk through the list.

1. Find a blogger – There are tons of blogs out there that cover tons of topics. The first step to pitching your idea is to find a blogger who covers topics related to your industry. Your pitch idea should be of interest to the blogger you reach out to. The best way to do this is to actually read some archived posts. Make sure that your blogger of choice is willing to work with you as a representative of your organization.

2. Build a relationship –After you do some reading, try building a relationship with the blogger you are interested in by leaving comments on their blog, sending them interesting ideas that don’t relate to your organization, and read more than just their most recent post. Commenting and sharing interesting information with a blogger can really help solidify you as a contact. Link to bloggers through your own blog or invite bloggers to write a guest post.

Without building a relationship, chances are pretty high that your pitch will go straight to the recycle bin. View bloggers as a sort of picky, opinionated journalist. Bloggers can write about anything, and the last thing you want them to write about is how you were rude for approaching them out of the blue or worse, that you offended their morals by offering them payment. This may seem like a big commitment just to pitch a press release, but Kevin Dugan makes a good point: if networking with the blogger seems like too much work for the news you want to share, you probably should not pitch to them at all.

If all goes well, not only will you have successful pitched your news or event, you will have a new networking contact. Other readers of the blog may also build a relationship with you through your community activity. This can bring traffic to your own blog and social media pages.

3. Pitch your story – By this point you should know the best bloggers for the kind of story you want to pitch and have developed a relationship with them. Don’t forget to maintain the relationship after you have sent them your pitch, even if they did not include your information in a blog post. You don’t want to burn bridges, and there are always future opportunities to expand your relationships.

Our Arts & Humanities Blogger Brunch is coming up on March 18! Confirmed panelists include Jessica McFadden of A Parent in Silver Spring, Jacqueline Trescott of The Washington Post, Sommer Mathis of, Andrea Falken of Greg’s List DC, Mike Grass of Washington City Paper and representatives from and USA Today. Meet the new media and hear from them about what makes a great story! (Tip: If you register by Friday, March 11 at 5 pm, you can snag the Early Bird discount.)

Social Media: Am I Doing This Right?

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

Chances are, most of you already have some sort of social media presence for your organization. It is important to consider, however, that there is a big difference between personal and professional use of social media. A great first step at bringing your business up to speed is to perform a social media audit.

Social media audits allow companies to take a good look at their efforts and gauge what their online presence is actually accomplishing. It is all well and good to maintain social media profiles, but you have to know what you are getting back from the endeavor. You should strive to make sure your organization is keeping a consistent brand and message throughout your social media sites. Bloggers Boame and Bolsinger offer several good guidelines for social media audits. Some of the most compelling are to:

  • create custom graphics and landing pages
  • monitor site analytics
  • engage with the social community and consider comments
  • scrap tools that do not benefit your goals
  • integrate your social media sites with one another

In addition to these tips, I would suggest some good old-fashioned audience evaluation. Bolsinger suggests that you claim your brand name on every social media site, going so far as to set up a system that will set up accounts as new tools are released. I believe it is important to focus on sites your target audience is likely to visit. Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter are probably the most heavily frequented by all demographics, and it would be wise to set up profiles on these sites. However, arts and humanities groups and individual artists might find sites like Flickr and deviantArt appeal more to their audiences. When conducting an audit, pick and choose the venue which reflects your audiences’ interests.

The Arts & Humanities Council of Montgomery County will be hosting a Social Media Boot Camp featuring Carrie Fox of C.Fox Communications on Feb. 25 and March 18.

You can listen to our podcast with Shellie Williams to learn more about AHCMC’s Boot Camp and professional advancement opportunities.

Education is half the battle, so get out there and learn some new social media skills!

No need to feel queasy with tools like Weebly!

Sunday, November 28th, 2010

By Nancy Switkes, Managing Director of The Georgetown Quintet

How much longer must we hear the stereotype that artists and musicians are lousy at promoting ourselves?

For example, Weebly, a free website tool, made it surprisingly easy to put The Georgetown Quintet on the Web, giving the public an appealing way to learn much more about us.  Check our site out at:

After performing live music concerts for the past six years, our woodwind quintet found 2010 was the year for us to bust out of our bubble to engage the larger world online. What was different about this year, in the history of this talented, daring woodwind quintet?

We finally found a consultant to help us. David Y. Todd, a PR consultant in Silver Spring, Md. ( With his counsel, we met a slew of milestones. In nine months, The Georgetown Quintet:

  1. Fulfilled our second Arts and Humanities Council grant, commissioning a new piece for quintet + bass clarinet, and performing it for a really eclectic audience that included a group of “mentally challenged” adults from an institution, who (despite that odd clinical label) were a joy to perform with and who really “got” the music we presented
  2. Earned a great cover feature article in The Gazette
  3. Launched (our Weebly-built site)
  4. Successfully pitched our group with a press kit to WPFW-FM show host of Brother Ah, who then interviewed us for two full hours on his popular evening program
  5. Got concert coverage in the Washington Afro American newspaper
  6. Secured an autumn concert booking at BlackRock Center for the Arts that we’d been working on for two years
  7. Received a positive review on, and
  8. Raised $1,500 in private donations to fund a concert before another diverse and enthusiastic audience of nearly 100 people in Northeast Washington, DC


David Todd’s class in PR 101 for small entrepreneurs and organizations is a helpful launching pad. He’s a personable guy who knows the news business, tight writing, art, religion, history, politics and more. He has surprised me by understanding some really obscure music references.

On our shoestring budget, I hired David for brief conversations in which he helped me produce press releases,cover letters and emails. He saw the bigger picture for our group from the perspective of journalists, funders and
audiences; I tended to see it from within the ensemble. When it appeared we were going to get a booking at BlackRock in late 2010, I knew the time had come to act on getting the website I’d been postponing.

I started by taking David’s advice to set up a professional-looking email address: tgquintet@gmail. Then on his advice I played around with (–a free Web site design and hosting service – no fee, no obligation). I figured out basics of how to pick out a nice-looking template and where to place text.

Pre-writing the script was a preliminary “must” before going online.! Then, after another couple of hours, I learned how to insert photos and use
the built-in option for headings. The look of Weebly’s screen makes it easy and fun.

Full disclosure: it took a computer-savvy friend another few hours to add some fancy extras such as sample audio from performances and maps to events. But I’m confident that anyone who can read this, can launch a Weebly site.

The main thing is to write the online content for your whole site before you begin. And then be willing to put in some hours playing around with it.! Get a friend to help. That makes it a lot more fun.

Several important points of what we learned:

  1. Write your online content with a word processing program, then print it out. Work out your aesthetic choices of font style and size in THAT program, before you input the portions of text into the Weebly templates.
  2. You can put a text box inside another text box. That makes it easier to manipulate the look to get different headlines, subtitles and a skinny box to the left of a wider box.
  3. I liked that Weebly in its various templates gave us a lot of choices to pick from. We’d already come up with our logo from a graphic designer last year. It was easy to upload that into the Weebly banner. I like the color scheme we went with. You don’t have to obsessively tinker by trying every shade of blue…There are good color combinations already preset to choose from.

If you have been dragging your feet about launching a website, have some fun exploring It’s so easy that any artist can use it and have success!