Roadshow East Case Study: David Stark, RSNO
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  • We have experienced the highs (and lows) of the collaborative process that is necessary to get five large, well- established and highly strategic organisations to get together, work together, learn together and take some big decisions together. This is the story of that process…an online social media project that is still a work in progress.
  • Royal Scottish National Orchestra, 89 strong symphony orchestra performing in Scotland’s six cities and touring to smaller towns and villages, and internationally.
  • Why should arts companies collaborate (on non-artistic projects)? If we don’t work together on shared challenges or opportunities, we could put our companies at serious risk of isolation! You don’t want to be isolated in these difficult times!
  • Missions Models Money Identified untapped potential for arts & cultural orgs to work together In a 2007 report they stated that ‘there is significant unrealised potential for arts and cultural organisations to leverage their own talents and those of other organisations by working together and that the challenges and opportunities of developing mergers, back office consolidations and joint ventures needed to be further investigated.  - Wanted 6 pilot projects - they were interested in groups already considering collaborative working and/or shared services Approach would include funding and access to pool of specialist expertise They were looking for guinea pigs! Q. What is driving your digital collaboration? [Is it just collaboration for collaboration's sake, or because there is a pot of money available, or because there is a political driver? Or do all parties feel that there is something good that can be won from sharing resources/content and so on?]
  • The five National Performing Arts Companies of Scotland (NPACS) are… Five national touring companies, who all receive core funding directly from the Scottish Government (third year of this new funding relationship). National Theatre of Scotland, an innovative touring company who work with actors, directors and theatre companies – tour across Scotland and internationally. Ourselves – the RSNO – you’ve already heard about us! Scottish Ballet: 36 dancers, 41 staff and 70 p/t freelance orchestra. Performing across Scotland, UK and abroad Scottish Chamber Orchestra: 37 piece chamber orchestra, performing across Scotland and internationally, including annual tours of Scottish Highlands and Islands. Scottish Opera: Scotland’s national opera company and largest performing arts organisation in Scotland. Mainscale opera in four cities, performances in 50 other theatres, village halls and community centres All five companies have major education and community engagement programmes
  • So we knew we wanted to collaborate, why did we choose Digital? no-one company had yet realised the full potential of technology platforms…None of us were fully realising the potential of technology on our own anyway – and probably didn’t have the resources to go it alone BUT MOST IMPORTANTLY WAS THE POTENTIAL TO BE GREATER THAN THE SUM OF OUR PARTS… AN OPPORTUNITY THAT MARKETERS LIKE MYSELF JUMPED UPON
  • With thanks to Matt Lehrman of Audiences Arizona
  • “ Greater than the sum of our parts” – or even “Mony a mickle maks a muckle” We decided that enriching experience of current enthusiasts should be initial thrust. By engaging them and giving them the tools and incentives to spread the word, we encourage them to bring their personal networks of friends, family and contacts to the site… turn supporters into evangelists for the Companies! The platform will have its own distinctive branding, reflected across all external activities (eg Facebook and Twitter etc). Q. Are all collaborators agreed on the target audience(s) from the outset? [This is a very obvious question for marketers and one that we're used to dealing with on other projects but somehow we all forget about it when it comes to digital projects... Maybe we get lured into thinking that digital can be a panacea for all audiences, all at once?!]
  • - At this stage we didn’t know what kind of shared technology platform we wanted - Some of us didn’t even know what a shared technology platform was! Therefore, important to start from a level playing field – i.e. start from scratch - CEOs involved from the start – get them together first for briefing and training To get five, large, proud institutions together to truly collaborate on a major project (and financial undertaking) I believe you need to get the men and women at the top to really believe in it. With technology this can be fun! I would have loved to be a fly on the wall as our specialist consultants introduced the five to the delights of twitter, Second Life, blogging and all the rest. One (who will remain nameless) had to be helped to switch on wi-fi on his laptop BUT by the end of the day, they were all sending each other cute little tweets! Q. Are the people at the top of the organisation in support of the collaborative digital project - do they even understand what is involved? [You may need them as a tier of 'arbitration' if you and your collaborators are struggling to agree on an issue]
  • Each company is at its own stage in its Digital/Technological work. National Theatre of Scotland have been producing online videos of their work almost since their inception, Scottish Ballet have thousands of Facebook fans, SCO and RSNO were busy on developing new websites, Scottish Opera had not yet dipped toes in blogging or social networking. We were all agreed that we were not yet ready – or galvanised together – to face the challenges of contract negotiations/union negotiations, infrastructure costs, artistic decisions and licensing that would be involved in a fully-realised content-delivery vision (for example a site along the lines of the Berlin Phil’s Digital Concert Hall… an iPlayer for the work of the five companies). We’ll get there someday soon – but that will have to be Phase 2! Q. Is everyone around the table absolutely in agreement that the results you want to get out of your digital collaboration will be greater than the sum of your individual parts or efforts? [Because I would suggest that if any one collaborator thinks that they could achieve the same/better on their own then it will lead to problems down the line. Everyone needs to believe that the final outcome will be better, not just collab for collabs sake] So instead we decided to begin our work with a social media presence, a place where the five individual brands can co-exist and where we can begin to network with shared audiences and new audiences, attracted by the strength of five companies together.
  • The five companies then came together to discuss the proposal, at Marketing Director level. We had to bash through some weighty hurdles to collaboration, shooting down some of the elephants-in-the-room in the process. Q. Don't avoid the elephants in the room! [Make sure that all collaborators are honest about the 'thorny' issues of competition, content (something from everyone or more from some than others), brand (one common brand or a collection of individuals), tone, editing (will visitors be allowed to express an uncensored opinion?).] Q. Are each of the collaborators prepared to make sacrificies? [For example, if you are creating, say, a common Facebook page, would you be prepared to each sacrifice your own Facebook pages?]
  • By the end of a four hour meeting, we had identified some pretty significant hurdles that we’ve had to deal with in the subsequent weeks (now months). Happily, we have now reached a place of agreement (well, we still don’t have a name!). We were able to deal with the hurdles by discussion with each other one-to-one and in smaller groups, before coming together again as a five. Also, because the CEOs had been involved from the outset and understood the project, it was always possible for them to act as arbiters when the Marketing Directors were at stalemate. (Each CEO being determined to prove that THEIR organisation wouldn’t be THE stumbling block to collaboration!)
  • We prepared a call for proposals and eventually selected a small social media company, Blether Media to run the Phase 1 project. Although we received excellent applications from some big players in the social media platform development field, we have opted for a one-man operation. Why? If all we got was a fancy shell, then who would co-ordinate the content gathering – who would force us to prioritise this site over our own? It isn’t really about the technology, or the design. We need a passionate advocate at the centre of the project, someone who can chase each of the five companies for content, for information. Kyle at Blether Media challenged us: “I would go to your concerts/performances… they sound wonderful. But I don’t know about them – nobody in my (online) world is talking about you” Q. Rather than bring in outside TECHNICAL help for your digital project, do you need to bring instead a FACILITATOR or an EDITOR... a REFEREE even? [Someone who will draw together the content or information that your digital project will require, someone who is an independent voice.] Q. A digital platform is impotent without content. [Where are you going to get the content from?]
  • The result – The Performance Post!
  • Magazine area
  • Example of an article, with photo gallery
  • Q. What is driving your digital collaboration? [Is it just collaboration for collaboration's sake, or because there is a pot of money available, or because there is a political driver? Or do all parties feel that there is something good that can be won from sharing resources/content and so on?] Q. Is everyone around the table absolutely in agreement that the results you want to get out of your digital collaboration will be greater than the sum of your individual parts or efforts? [Because I would suggest that if any one collaborator thinks that they could achieve the same/better on their own then it will lead to problems down the line. Everyone needs to believe that the final outcome will be better, not just collab for collabs sake] Q. Are the people at the top of the organisation in support of the collaborative digital project - do they even understand what is involved? [You may need them as a tier of 'arbitration' if you and your collaborators are struggling to agree on an issue] Q. Are all collaborators agreed on the target audience(s) from the outset? [This is a very obvious question for marketers and one that we're used to dealing with on other projects but somehow we all forget about it when it comes to digital projects... Maybe we get lured into thinking that digital can be a panacea for all audiences, all at once?!] Q. Rather than bring in outside TECHNICAL help for your digital project, do you need to bring instead a FACILITATOR or an EDITOR... a REFEREE even? [Someone who will draw together the content or information that your digital project will require, someone who is an independent voice.] Q. A digital platform is impotent without content. [Where are you going to get the content from?] Q. Are you assuming that 'If we build it, they will come?' [Why not consider the approach NPACS have taken, which is to build something for them to come to (social network), before we build the ultimate vision (live content streaming platform). However, don't forget that nomatter which you choose, you will need some content to attract and keep visitors.] Q. Don't avoid the elephants in the room! [Make sure that all collaborators are honest about the 'thorny' issues of competition, content (something from everyone or more from some than others), brand (one common brand or a collection of individuals), tone, editing (will visitors be allowed to express an uncensored opinion?).] Q. Are each of the collaborators prepared to make sacrificies? [For example, if you are creating, say, a common Facebook page, would you be prepared to each sacrifice your own Facebook pages?]

Roadshow East Case Study: David Stark, RSNO Roadshow East Case Study: David Stark, RSNO Presentation Transcript

  • An online social media project by the National Performing Arts Companies of Scotland David Stark, Director of Marketing & Communications, Royal Scottish National Orchestra
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  • Royal Scottish National Orchestra
    • 1999: first website
    • 2003: Email List / SMS-texts
    • 2006: Website re-built in-house, using open source CMS (Mambo, now Joomla)
    • 2008: presence on Facebook
    • 2009: first in-house video projects
    • 2009: employ Digital Manager
    • 2010: blogging/video/microsites/social networking
  • RSNO Online: main website
  • RSNO Online: special project micro-site
  • RSNO Online: E-news
  • RSNO Online: U16 site
  • RSNO Online: streaming/downloads ‘white label’ site
  • RSNO Online: U26 social network
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  • Why Collaborate?
    • “ At a time of economic uncertainty, deploying collaborative solutions to joint challenges and opportunities is a pre-requisite for survival”
    Simon Woods (CE, RSNO)
  • Catalysts for Collaboration
    • MMM – Missions Models Money
    • Scottish Government – keen for NPACS to work together
    • NPACS – desire work together on externally facing projects.
  • Who are we?
  • Why Digital?
    • None of us were fully realising the potential of technology on our own
    • We didn’t have the tech/digital resources to go it alone
    • Potential to significantly increase public engagement opportunities - ‘greater than the sum of our parts’
  • Why Marketers Collaborate?
    • Cross promotion
    • Networking opportunities across five existing audiences and their friends
    • More companies = more content, more discussion, more activity
    • Easier to reach the ‘ hard-to-reach fruit’
  • We spend most of our TIME picking the “low hanging fruit”
  • We spend most of our BUDGET picking the “mid-level fruit”
  • COLLABORATION is needed to pick the “hard-to-reach fruit”
  • Aims of our collaboration…
    • Promote the work of the five to new audiences by:
    • Facilitating new public dialogues about each of us
    • Leveraging combined power of five for increased national/international reputation
    • Enriching experience of current attenders
  • First Steps in Digital Collaboration
    • Digital Audit
    • Get CEOs together first
    • Inspire everyone through presentations from leaders in the field
    • Share stories, research & results of other successful technology projects
    • private Ning became crucial tool for sharing & discussing ideas
  • So what did we decide?
    • We are all at different stages in our own digital work, with differing ambitions
    • BUT.. all united by common desire to eventually see a fully realised content-delivery vision (Phase 2)
    • SO… decided to begin with an ‘online social media presence’ (Phase 1)
  • Difficult Questions
    • Are we creating a new brand, or just a new ‘space’?
    • How should joint NPACS activities relate/integrate with/replace current Company social/web activities?
    • What internal resources can we each bring to the table?
    • How will we maintain momentum – who drives this?
  • Collaborative Hurdles
    • Competition for ticket sales
    • Maintaining individual identities in conversations with audiences
    • Agreeing on a clearly defined target audience
    • Impact on other collaborations outside NPACS
    • Differing definitions of what is ‘sensitive’ material or appropriate conversation tones
  • Choosing the right partner
    • Small is beautiful
    • Consultant needs to drive content, as well as build the platform
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  • Launching soon...