Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedules to come today to hear about our new messaging brand and engagement strategy for our sectorWe hope this presentation will give you a set of messaging tools that will make your everyday communications more effective for your organization, it’s mission and audience. We think it will help grow your organization while at the same time growing more supportfor arts and culture in general. It will help people better understand your value and the important role that our sector plays in advancing personal, community and economic growth.Before we delve into our presentation, we’d like to give you a short assignment.Please take a few minutes to write your elevator speech; Think of someone or a particular group; explain to them what you do and why what you do is important.(there are pads of paper and pens on your desk)
Here’s the agenda for today:We’ll start by introducing why we developed this campaign; why we need a unified message.We’ll describe the research that we did.We’ll explain the message framework and organizing strategy that came out of it. Then we’ll take some time for discussion and questions, followed by a breakout sessionFinally, about next steps.
The right messageYou may have heard Tom Kaiden address this issue at our Annual Meeting. He talked about the challenging times we’re facing in the cultural sector. increased competition for consumer’s leisure time and philanthropic resourcesa shrinking tax base a political perception that still persist the arts are an amenity, not a necessity But we all know that in these challenging times…especially now…arts and culture are criticalThey’re critical to solving many economic and social issuesYet many suggest we defer investment in arts and culture in order to address these social issues.But it’s not news that our work is not always fully appreciated or understood. At the Cultural Alliance, we’ve addressed this gap by publishing extensive research about the sector’s impact. Portfolio and Arts & Economic Prosperity But while our research is key, and we will continue to do that research, to publish the reports and to arm you with statistics…research alone is not longer enough. That’s why today we are talking about messaging and community engagement.
A consistently stated messageIt needs to be the right message for several different groupsYour ConsumersCommunity ActivistsCivic Leaders PolicymakersYou don’t ask for the same things in the same way from consumers and elected officials.But to build consistent appreciation of our value we need to speak to the same underlying principles regardless of our audience. What we want to do today is tofocus on how to talk and engage with all of these different groups so that the important role that you and other organizations play is understood…is on their radar screens
Our goal is really a simple one: We need to raise awareness and understanding that arts and culture is essential to the quality of life in our region.
Why do we want to do this?Because if arts and culture are seen as essential we will have stronger supportThose of us immersed in the field understand that arts and culture are essentialBUT we need to be sure that those we are communicating with are connecting the dots as well
To often policymakers and other important stakeholders view support for our sector as a donation not an investment.We want to shift that view: we want not to be seen as constantly having our hand out, Instead we need to make sure these stakeholders see that we are offering a hand up to help and a handshake to collaborateon many important issues.We need to convey that arts and culture is a renewalble, vital resource.Intro to Rich:To help frame the message, we engaged a communications and policy firm, the Neimand Collaborative, known nationally for its work in advancing nonprofit organizations and their causes. I’d like to introduce Rich Neimand to talk about the work that we did and what we learned.
Rich:A committee of Alliance staff and Board members worked together over the course of a year to design, guide and apply research insights and message recommendations to the needs and opportunities of both Greater Philadelphia and the arts and culture organizations located here. We built this because we are a service organization looking to help you—and the research shows that this strategy will help you.We reviewed all the research on the field in this region, including existing Engage 2020 research findings and then designed a series of interviews with key stakeholders to fill in the gaps and explore opportunities for effective messaging about the value of arts and culture to the region.We looked at distinct groups of people, their needs and what they valued. Those groups were policymakers, Alliance members and community activists—people who were not necessarily arts activists but played key roles in leading their respective communities.We analyzed the results of our interviews and research review and developed a message framework
It’s important to note that These are very different groups with different needs.We asked them open ended questions to be sure that we didn’t direct their answers and would hear the widest possible range of responses.But the research showed that there was a remarkable confluence of perceptions and desires among them—and that’s something we don’t often see when conducting this kind of research. That’s what we call “hitting gold.”(Making the point that the findings were unusually strong and similar across interviews)
While this may be the most traditional response from your core audiences and those who are longstanding customers and patrons, it was also expressed by many non-traditional audiences and in many non-traditional ways. From the criminal justice system to the cultural heritage organizations to people who “found” themselves through the broadened horizons and deepened understanding offered through arts and culture, many individuals spoke of its transforming power.As one interviewee noted, “arts and culture makes life worth living.” Participation in arts and culture is perceived to take individuals beyond day-to-day living to enrich their minds and spirits. It bestows individual vitality and growth.This identification started at a place that interviewees believed in, but the elevation we’re talking about is NOT ONLY personal elevation—it’s not just inspiration but TANGIBLE BENEFITS produced in areas such as education, jobs creation, community building and personal growth.
This perception is really a subset of the power to elevate, but we separate it here to highlight the strong value placed on the role of arts and culture in educating children and giving them intellectual and emotional experiences they need for upward mobility and successful lives as adults. It enables vitality and growth in young people.Parents want kids to have experiences in society—to make the transition between “Sponge Bob and being a sponge for learning.”Arts and culture expands the horizons of children, helps them understand their place in the world and, eventually, how to change their world for the better.
This is a huge asset. People feel that arts and culture in the greater Philadelphia area comes from them.We heard this over and over in the interviews.It comes from Philadelphians for Philadelphians. They value it because it is theirs; we don’t have to work to make it theirs. Interviewees all talked about this as organic—Philadelphia’s arts come FROM Philly not TO Philly.Libraries example
All stakeholders recognize that arts and culture are essential for personal, community and civic prosperity. Community leaders, in particular, see arts and culture as one of their most vital economic development resources—hence their desire to connect with arts and culture to gain wider resources and exposure for their neighborhoods. This strong tie to economic development and growth will prove invaluable in your advocacy strategy and brand messaging.Also important to note that we did not ask economic questions in the interview—these comments were volunteered by interviewees.Economic development in neighborhoods and communitiesBringing in arts org and creative entrepreneurs
Early on in the process, one of our board members reminded us that, “Philadelphians cherish the right to boo.” They like being individuals. They like their individual neighborhoods. But, they also appreciate the happiness that comes from being a part of a chorus of boos or a crowd of cheers, be it at an Eagles game, the opera, an art opening or community theater. Arts and culture is a way for Philadelphians to thrive as individuals and share their experiences as a community—all the while reserving their right to be individuals. In short, it grows a sense of community without diminishing individual vitality.This might sound touchy, but it’s not. It was clear from the research that people like their own communities, but also like the feeling of coming together and feeling more connected. They like being who they are, but also like to be seen and appreciated by others while appreciating the authenticity and diversity of experiences in the region.Philadelphia is a region where people love their neighborhoods and communities but they want to connect with others and arts and culture provide this bridge.People in communities coming togetherDifferent communities coming together – Bucks Co Choral Group & Eb Max
Now let’s take a look at where these groups are coming from: the challenges they face.Not surprisingly, policymakers seek to maintain economic and social momentum during this economic downturn. Policymakers are struggling to fund basic services while still meeting public demand for economic growth and enhancements to the quality of life. An economic downturn does not dampen public expectations for services; it increases demands and intensifies calls to “cut out the waste and fund what we need.” From a political standpoint this is an impossible situation. Policymakers need revenue sources that fuel community vitality and economic growth. Among most policymakers, arts and culture are positioned as life enhancements beyond basic needs—in short, a luxury. We need to directly address their value proposition.Policy need to maintain economic and social momentum during an economic downturn; their priorities are things like education, job development and economic growth so we need to see arts and culture as a resource to address these issues.
Local leaders – from bank presidents to church leaders The community activists we focused on in this research are opinion leaders and catalysts for action within their communities. These individuals were a mixture of lay citizens and those with professional positions you would expect from someone who has an impact on the future of neighborhoods, cultures and community life– elected officials, philanthropic leaders, religious leaders, leaders of ethnic or neighborhood organizations, nonprofit leaders with a focus on community economic development, involved citizens and leaders of social service institutions.Communities, especially disadvantaged ones, have been hit hard by the recession. Many are struggling to meet basic needs and focusing on getting the revenue to meet them. Most communities and neighborhoods saw significant gains in quality of life during the previous decade, even if such economic progress was built on the house of cards we now call AIG and Goldman Sachs. Like policymakers and Alliance members, they want to stem losses and find a way to continue to grow individuals, neighborhoods and revenue. They strongly believe in the vitality of their community, its arts and culture, and believe that sharing it with the greater community will result in more economic opportunity and growth.
Community activists see arts and culture as an essential ingredient in successful education, spiritual and economic growth, but they lack the resources to connect their energy source into the grid. Research found they are very eager to plug into your resources and deliver their advocacy resources in kind if you will join them in common goals and develop long-term partnerships.
Arts organizations want better art, greater appreciation and more moneyIn general, it’s clear that we all want a vital arts and culture community that grows stronger in terms of products, support and revenue. Like politicians, you are looking to stem any recessionary bleeding and grow during a period of scarce resources. We should note that our emphasis on scarce resources isn’t temporary. We believe this recession is structural—the changes that have happened and are happening will be with us for a long time. We must adapt to them.
What was the common refrain we heard from the various groups? They’re looking for resources for vitality and growthIf we want to succeed individually and as a sector, we must address how arts and culture is an essential resource for vitality and growth.Fortunately, as we mentioned earlier we have strengths or assets that that help us make a credible case. The five strengths that we talked about are all vital and renewable resources for growth.
Simply putVital arts and culture = Growth; personal growth, community growth and economic growthWhat does this actually mean? It means that when arts and culture is doing its best work – producing high quality, engaging, relevant experiences for individuals, and being that great neighbor who always offers a helping hand in the community – when those things happen, arts and culture creates personal, community, and economic growth.That is the underlying message we all must communicate in everything we do and say.It speaks to everyone’s greatest need and desire—and, most importantly, it changes the perception that arts and culture is a luxury to arts and culture is a necessity.
We have an opportunity to use this equation, this finding, to narrow down our messaging and ensure our audience is learning about us and understanding our value through a consistent message framework, even when our words and stories are different.It all boils down to two things: We need to do a better job highlighting the good things that are already happening, and make more of them happen. How to deliver this consistent message highlight reach out to communities and connect resources you have to the resources they need.This is about what you say and about what you doWe need to change the perception that we are always asking for donations, rather than offering resources to communities, by changing our own messaging and our behavior.
What does the message need to be about?We are a resource for personal, community and economic growthThe purpose of this work is not to deliver a “message of the day,” but instead to make sure that as we advance our organizations on an individual basis, we are doing so in a way that sends a clear, compelling and consistent message about the value of our arts and culture community.Much of what is in this message framework are things we are already saying, but maybe not as directly, clearly and in as orchestrated a voice as we should. While each of our organizations is different, the message framework takes what we have in common and rolls it up into a value proposition that resonates across a wide range of stakeholders and potential stakeholders in arts and culture.Consistent messaging doesn’t mean we’re using the same words, it means that we share what we do and why we do it through a consistent lens or framework so that community members, civic leaders, funders and policy makers will recognize consistent themes about why we are valuable partners.
Run through these – simple state the strengths again
So what does all this mean for you? For your organization?We believe that if you weave It’s How We Grow and the five themes into communications of all kinds you will more effective in reaching stakeholders and will improve support for your organization.And if we all make use of It’s How We Grow we will see broad support for the arts & cultural sector grow.
Before we break into small groups we’d like to take a few minutes for your comments and questions.Feedback is key—call on people! Make sure you’re engaging with them on this content.
What are some places where you might envision using the framework in your work?Could include press releases, newsletters, educational materials, curtain speeches, conversations…We suggest these simple guidelinesfor using the message framework:Focus on the spirit of the strengths; don't just spout the lines verbatimUse the strengths in any order and you don’t have to use all of them - make their order and focus are appropriate to the situation at hand3. Use your own stories and data to illustrate, or "prove," the value associated with each ideaAlways keep the underlying value proposition – growth…personal, community and economic growth – top of mind as you use this frameworkWhy is a consistent message…a brand important? Stowe First storyTK – ED of Stowe CofC – created Stowe 1st campaign – convinced hotels, restaurants & stores to voluntarily double their membership dues to fund an umbrella marketing initiativeStowe First – raise Stowe’s profile, bring in more people, then they can decide where to stay, shop, eat and skiResult 50% increase in market share over 4 yearsIt’s How We Grow – an umbrella messaging campaign to raise awareness & understanding of the value of arts & culture – expand the pie so that there are more resources for everyone.
To make this effort truly effective the It’s How We Grow message must have substance so we that we can bridge the gaps that were identified: community leaders see high value in arts and culture, but don’t always feel connected to the cultural community policymakers believe in arts & culture but need to hear more support from their voters We need to make sure that community leaders understand good work that you are all doing and to find out if there are other ways you might work with those leaders, their groups, their nrighborhoods.We need those community leaders to join us in making policymakers understand that arts & culture are a vital resource and they should invest in our sector. They need to join our It’s How We Grow chorus.You are already doing a great deal of this work; running programs in partnership with community groups and helping to solve local issues. We need to highlight that work …to talk about those storiesAt the Cultural Alliance we believe in stories…and we believe in data.So data and statistics are important; stories are important AND data + stories = proof. We want to help you tell your own stories better, to deepen the understanding of your community value, and to support your organization’s marketing, development, education and advocacy.
To help with this part of the strategy, the Cultural Alliance has just completed an organizational realignment that establishes a Community Engagement team. A team of six…most of them/us are here today…(introduce team members) will be working in the field to better connect you to Alliance member services, to capture your stories and broker deeper community connections. Over the coming months, our team will visit every member. We want to: better understand your work, inventory the assets you offer the community, be able to share your successes with others and ensure that you’re getting the most out your Alliance membership. We want to network with you and to help you network with others in your community and regionwho are you talking to, working with? who might you be talking to, working with?how might you deepen your community connections?We want to continue to engage you…to deepen our relationship with youSo that with a unified message and broad engagement we can shift perceptions… Arts & Culture…It’s How We Grow….We are a resource…an investment.
Now let’s put this into practice.We are going to ask you to break into small groups with 3 – 5 people in each group. A member of the Community Engagement team will join each group as a facilitator. Within each group you will have an opportunity to read the elevator speech/statement that you crafted at the beginning of the session. After you read your piece we will take a few minutes to allow others to note which elements of the Grow message they heard in your piece as well as to do a bit of brainstorming about how to infuse other elements in the piece.(Remember that the five strengths don’t all need to be present in every communication.) After you’ve gone around the group and talked through each of your statements we’ll give you a few minutes to redraft your message. At the end we’ll reconvene the larger group and we’ll give anyone interested the opportunity to share their revised statement with the larger group.
(NOTE: Thought it would be helpful to have this available during the breakout sessions for people to refer to)
So that’s what It’s How We Grow is about: a common message and a concerted effort to engage and support communities brings home arts and culture’s relevance to everyone in our region. Tomorrow you’ll receive a follow up email from us with a survey (please take a minute to give us your feedback) and a link to our It’s How We Grow Resource page: there you will find: today’s powerpoint, the research behind It’s How We Grow, statistics about our sector, online economic calculator, an opportunity to ask us to come to your organization soon to follow up (we want to stay engaged with you), stories…stories…stories and moreOver time, we’ll know that our message campaign and engagement strategy are working:When “It’s how we grow” has become a touchstone for regional prideWhen community activists look to cultural groups as partners in solving community issuesWhen civic leaders enlist cultural groups to help provide solutions tocity, county and regional issuesWhen community concerns are a regular part of the conversation at management meetings for arts and culture organizationsAnd, when we have a Regional Cultural Fund with widespread public support
It's How We Grow - Presentation
Agenda:<br /><ul><li>Why we need a unified message
Development of message</li></li></ul><li>Finding: <br />Consistent perception on strengths and challenges <br />
Strength: <br />Philadelphia’s arts <br />have the power to <br />elevate the <br />lives of individuals<br />
Strength: <br />Philadelphia’s arts <br />have the power to <br />educate children & <br />help them understand <br />their place in <br />the world<br />photo credit: Philadelphia Zoological Society <br />
Strength: <br />Philadelphia’s arts <br />are uniquely<br />its own and <br />strongly owned<br />
Strength: <br />Philadelphia’s arts <br />are an economic <br />engine for renewal <br />and growth<br />photo credit: Philadelphia Live Arts & Philly Fringe<br />
It’s an engine for economic growth.<br />It has the power to elevate lives.<br />It has the power to educate.<br />We own it because it comes from us.<br />It helps individuals come together and <br />grow as a community.<br />