Unfulfilled Calls To Action

You Got My Hopes Up!
I received an email through my blog Friday about an audience study that has recently been completed. I was elated because generally these emails, which are essentially press releases, are on topics I have no real interest in writing about. Many are on show openings and I don’t really cover those sort of things. Unless there is some experimental marketing initiative involved, I am not terribly interested. But finally, here was something I was eager to write on. I followed the link provided and….Nothing. I followed the other link to the research organization that did the study….nothing again. I decided to wait until today and try again thinking the press people may have gotten ahead of things a little. It is now a couple hours after quitting time in both organizations’ time zones and the promised reports are still not up.

Answering A Call To Action
This goes to illustrate one of the basic tenets of advertising and promotion–Don’t issue a call to action without providing your target group an ability to act. If you have an ad for a performance saying tickets on sale now, you better have a way for people to buy tickets available or you risk losing your credibility. This can be difficult if you are doing broadcast advertising and the radio or television station is giving you free air time on an “as available” basis. If you are going to have an ad running at 6 am, you may catch a good number of people during their morning commute–including your ticket office staff who haven’t gotten in to the office yet. If you can’t provide a web address to purchase tickets at, you can at least make sure to append your ticket office number with the office hours. Technology has increased the number of hours people expect to engage in transactions so the least you can do is be specific about the hours they can actually expect to contact your organization.

In any case, I am disappointed the announcement of this report preceded its actual release by so much time. I am motivated to read it so I am likely to return to the page on a couple more occasions. Others for whom the information might be useful, like arts leaders, may move on to other things and never revisit the link. Thus a valuable opportunity is lost in a sector where a large percentage of leaders do not keep abreast of the latest literature.

Cart’s Before The Horse And Speeding Away
I thought about this issue over the weekend. While I realized that as a tool, the press release was poorly used, I also recognized that technology induced expectations are outstripping our ability to provide our constituencies with the ability to act. I have recently decided to use Twitter to support event promotion efforts at our theatre. In keeping with my philosophy of not adopting the newest technological trends as they emerge, I only decided to use Twitter when I felt it was a good tool to accomplish a goal I had and knew the story I wanted it to create for our organization. But that is a subject of another entry.

Because we really don’t have a subscriber base to speak of, a formal season announcement really isn’t important. I started posting on Twitter every time we signed a contract with an artist figuring the little informal announcements of our season had the value of putting our followers in the know early on. The tweets also serve as the first of many reminders about our season that I want entering people’s subconscious. The problem is, due to myriad factors ranging from end of fiscal year wrap up, summer vacations and general logistics, we aren’t able to make the tickets available at the moment.

Only The Freshest Tweets, Please
We don’t have a lot of people following our Twitter feed right now because it is new and I haven’t made its existence widely known while I experiment and evaluate it’s use. I don’t think I am losing a lot of sales, especially given people’s propensity of waiting until the last moment to buy tickets. But what about this time next year? Every ticket sold is important these days. If I can’t figure out an alternative and get people on board, by this time next year I could be announcing performances I am not prepared to sell tickets for. Sure, I could wait and post about them when I am ready to sell tickets, but Twitter is all about immediacy–“What are you doing right now?” Months old news is stale and moldy.

Even if I could make delayed updates work without losing any credibility, the way things are moving, that option may not be viable with the next generation of technology.

About Joe Patti

I have been writing Butts in the Seats (BitS) on topics of arts and cultural administration since 2004 (yikes!). Given the ever evolving concerns facing the sector, I have yet to exhaust the available subject matter. In addition to BitS, I am a founding contributor to the ArtsHacker (artshacker.com) website where I focus on topics related to boards, law, governance, policy and practice.

I am also an evangelist for the effort to Build Public Will For Arts and Culture being helmed by Arts Midwest and the Metropolitan Group. (http://www.creatingconnection.org/about/)

My most recent role was as Executive Director of the Grand Opera House in Macon, GA.

Among the things I am most proud are having produced an opera in the Hawaiian language and a dance drama about Hawaii's snow goddess Poli'ahu while working as a Theater Manager in Hawaii. Though there are many more highlights than there is space here to list.


1 thought on “Unfulfilled Calls To Action”

  1. Treat it like a movie trailer…

    Although I agree with you that our culture is looking for that instant gratification, there’s still room for creating anticipation. I think people appreciate “insider information”, even if they can’t necessarily act on it immediately.


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