Ceding Control Of Your Message (Just A Little)

I am experiencing the slight panic that goes with having other people promote your events over social media more frequently these days. It is difficult to cede control of my information dispersal to other people, largely because it is increasingly involuntary.

Because services like Google and Twitter allow you to see what people are saying about my organization, I often find that people are forwarding incomplete information or mangled information. Some of it is a result of copy and paste which left some information behind or the necessity to truncate text for Twitter. What people are choosing to include in information to their friends often isn’t what I think sells the show. In some cases I can imagine that maybe a detail has significance to a person and their friends. Other times what they send is so nondescript, I can’t help but chalk it up to laziness and I hope that the mere idea that a friend has brought it to their attention inspires people to attend.

The temptation to correct or emphasize a point can really be strong at times. All I need to do is create a separate account of my own to set things aright. Just have to hope they don’t get too suspicious about the lack of posts or friends my brand new account has connected with it. But the consequences of injecting myself into someone else’s conversation for the purpose of correcting their information about our organization or being caught in an inauthentic masquerade are probably more damaging to us than a few incorrect dates and prices.

I have a similar situation with a local group with which we are partnering to produce a show. One of the board members is sending out press releases about the show on behalf of their organization. Personally, I think my writing is much better and paints a more complete picture. I send our partner some emails asking that certain bit of information be clarified, added or corrected.

But as many of you well know, personal relationships matter. That board member had people clamoring to write advance stories and conduct television and radio interviews in the course of a couple days. I didn’t know that a couple of the magazines even existed. In fact, one of them is just starting up and our event will have significant space in the first issue.

Personal relationships, be they virtual or other wise, seems to trump accuracy of information when it comes to getting people involved. Or perhaps it glosses over the consequences of poor information delivery. Though ultimately the annoyance of those who show up at the wrong time or expecting to pay a different price may be borne by the arts organization rather than the friend.

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.


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