Tag Archives: digital arts marketing

Using impactful visuals to sell the arts

We invited the wonderful Jane Hobson to talk about how careful planning results in stunning photographs – something she happens to be an expert in! – and ultimately, bums on seats.

© Jane Hobson. Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet in “Necessity, Again”, by Jo Stromgren, Festspielhaus, Baden Baden, Germany, for Dance Consortium

It’s only words… or is it?

Whilst a beautifully crafted piece of copy is a joy to behold, its impact can be multiplied by the judicious use of a cracking photograph. In fact, I’m willing to bet that some reviews are only read because the accompanying image has grabbed the reader’s attention. As for getting bums on seats, a striking poster, leaflet, social media post or web ad invites the beholder to engage with the emotion or theme of the production, and to at least consider booking.

So how can you maximise the chances of this happening?

  1. Quality. Horses for courses. There are photographers who are performing arts specialists for a reason. It’s a specialist area. It takes years of experience, constant practice, and rather pricey camera gear. (I swear the camera sensor manufacturers are in league with contemporary dance lighting designers!) Even within the performing arts, there are photographers who are stronger in one area or another, whether dance or circus, opera or theatre, studio work or live performance – check portfolios and client list. The quality of the imagery is key to whether your communications will get seen/not and how/whether they are responded to. If you don’t have the budget for someone external (see point 3, and remember to budget next time) then by all means DIY/get a mate with a camera in, but please bear the following pointers in mind (and remember to budget next time – I can’t say this too often!)
  2. Plan. Do you need a studio shoot or a live performance/theatre lighting shoot? Sections or full dress? What costumes and lighting will you need? Full cast/not. What are your deadlines? Which media do you need to shoot for (see also below)? Portrait or landscape? (All of these, except for portrait v landscape, impact on timing and cost.)
  3. Budget. I know the arts are underfunded and that budgets are tight, but if you are in the lucky position of being Arts Council/Kickstarter/etc. funded, please remember to put in a budget for marketing and PR that includes photography. I know it sounds obvious but…get a quote first.
  4. Single-minded proposition. What is the one key thing that you wish to convey about the production? (Hint: it’s not ‘come and see this show’) The images selected should help you convey this.
  5. Target. Choose your media according to your target market and when/where they will be most receptive. (This probably warrants a whole post to itself – if in doubt, HdK can advise!)
  6. Shoot. Look for striking shapes, expressions, lighting, moments – they can be subtle or not-so-subtle, but things that trigger something in the photographer are likely to also trigger something in the audience. (Also, keep your photographer in water/hot beverages – it’s thirsty work, and you will become a favourite client if you do!)
  7. Select. Choose an image or a small set of images that convey key intelligence about your production. Whether it’s a theme, key character, moment or emotion (or all four!) Avoid spoilers though, and try not to overload with too many messages – simplicity is key here.
  8. Spread. Having multiple options of images (though not too many – you don’t want to reveal the whole show!) for use across social media can help keep the message fresh/keep intrigue up.

In putting together this guest post, I have probably both told granny how to suck eggs for the experienced, and made it sound too complicated for the uninitiated. Such is the nature of having only a limited space! It goes without saying that HdK are the experts and that, whatever the experience level within arts marketing the client has, HdK will be able to discuss your own particular needs, opportunities and logistics with you – in language you understand.

Jane Hobson

Jane is a photographer who specialises in the performing arts, and has a director/partner level background in advertising, brand and creative strategy (as well as market research). Her clients include Scottish Ballet, Sadler’s Wells, Rambert, English Touring Opera, Birmingham Stage Company, etc.

www.janehobson.com

Dance Consortium’s Q & A with Nederlands Dans Theater

Working with Dance Consortium, a group of 17 large theatres located across the UK, HdK has the lovely job of sharing behind-the-scenes content from the international dance tours that Dance Consortium bring to the UK each year.

Since 12 April 2016, the world-class Nederlands Dans Theater 2 has been touring venues across the UK; we have been catching the dancers where we can, and sharing live content from the tour on the Dance Consortium blog and social media feeds.

Now with just one venue left of the 2016 UK Tour, we thought we’d share the post-performance Q and A from the Theatre Royal in Plymouth to give you a taste of the company before it heads back to The Hague, Netherlands. The two NDT2 dancers in the Q and A were Rachel McNamee [21] and Benjamin Behrends [23]. For the dancers’ biogs head to the tour microsite. The dances in the night’s repertoire were: I New Then (choreography: Johan Inger), mutual comfort (choreography: Edward Clug), Solo (choreography: Hans van Manen) and Cacti (choreography: Alexander Ekman).

Audience member: How much input do the dances have in the choreographic process?

Rachel: It really depends on each piece and each choreographer and what they want. Every choreographer is very different in every process. Sometimes the choreographer comes in with a very set idea of what they want and they have movement and they just give it to is, or sometimes they come in and ask us to give to them, or they see what’s in front of them and create with us… so it really depends on the situation.

Benjamin: Adding on to that, we also do a bit of improvisation in some of the pieces. In the last piece, Cacti, some of the spoken word is ad-libbed and also some of the dancing as well. All the nude work before the couples’ dance is all improvised, so it all depends on what the choreographer wants.

Audience member: Which piece did you enjoy dancing most?

Rachel: It’s hard to have a favourite because I enjoy all of them. I think it also depends on the night. A piece is always a magical experience but I think for me, all the pieces I danced tonight, for example I New Then – the music is amazing and it always puts you in such a special place and it has such a heart-warming feeling for me at least as a dancer. I feel like I give a lot to it.

NDT2, , WOKING, UK, 2016, CREDIT: JOHAN PERSSON

I New Then, NDT2 2016. Photo: JOHAN PERSSON

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But also in Cacti, it’s nice to have a big group and it’s very fun and exciting. It’s nice to have such a range of repertoire because you get to experience different parts of yourself within each piece.

Benjamin: Also for me, each ballet has its own jams that you get to discover while you’re dancing. For me, I really enjoy the technical aspects of Solo, when you finish it you just feel really good if you’ve had a technically clean one. And then I New Then is very special, it’s very easy to get into the role and have this sunshine-y feeling, and then Cacti is the big horah!

NDT2, , WOKING, UK, 2016, CREDIT: JOHAN PERSSON

Cacti, NDT2 2016, Photo: JOHAN PERSSON

 

 

Audience member: Do any injuries occur whilst handling other people’s bodies?

Benjamin: Yes (laughs) I think actually for me personally, all my injuries have happened completely on my own – no one was handling me! But yes as a profession of course we’re very careful and we train very hard every day. Fatigue also comes along with that. We always try and keep our bodies ready and fit to prevent injuries but of course things happen.

Audience member: How much do you train each day?

Rachel: We have ballet class every morning at 9.30am and then we rehearse for the rest of the day until 5.30pm and that’s usually 5 or 6 days a week, but we also do a lot of shows and touring, so sometimes we might have performances and things, but 9.30am – 5.30pm is the regular.

Audience member: How long does a show like that take to put together?

Benjamin: It’s about the programme and depends on how many dancers know it from previous seasons. I would say it takes us roughly two months to prepare for a dance like Cacti because it’s a huge piece. But when you’re creating with one of the choreographers it can take anywhere between two weeks to one month and sometimes they come back. But usually two weeks for set pieces. We have a great artistic team coaching us so sometimes it can go a bit faster.

Rachel: We also don’t work on one thing at a time. We have our programmes in Holland that are often new pieces and new creations and then half way through that run we go on tour with a completely different programme, so you’re working on about 8 pieces at any one time for various different shows, so it’ s hard to tell how long each piece takes but it’s quite busy!

Audience member: There’s a lot of rhythm and combination. You’re all doing the same thing at different moments! And you did it [Cacti] to perfection I must say!

Benjamin: (laughs) We practise a lot! And something with Cacti – it’s also a piece that gets brought back a lot so that’s one that the dancers might know from previous seasons but also we listen to the music in great detail. We have different groups: first row boys, back row boys, first row girls, back row girls, so it’s like now you do this, now you do this… (laughs) At the beginning it can be quite a challenge.

Audience member: How do you memorise the moves? How do they stay with you and do you listen to the music and immediately know what the movements are? How do you remember?

Rachel: It’s a skill that you develop because we’ve both been dancing for many years so for me now it seems normal to pick up movement and to learn it within my body. You feel yourself getting stronger at it. You don’t magically pick it up, you learn it and you think about it but there becomes a point where it gets into your body. That’s when you can play with it or feel it rather than just think it.

Benjamin: Also what we call muscle memory, it can be almost like a twitch, you know you have to do this on the music. Of course you can still put the same thoughts or emotions behind it but it might not be so in-your-brain about it. Like Rachel said, since a young age we have to memorise so much just in class, we’re constantly memorising what the teacher’s saying. It’s a tool you develop throughout your career. But also I find you can go into a room and completely forget why you’re there, so it doesn’t leave a lot of room for other stuff! (laughs)

Audience member: Do you use yoga in your training?

Benjamin: Lots of dancers do yoga on their own, it’s not required for us to do it, but some do it for cross-training. A lot of the positions we make on the boxes in Cacti are also improvised. They have a set structure, a geometric pose, and then you hold it, but actually the postures are based on the dancer’s interpretation of the pose and the music.

NDT2, , WOKING, UK, 2016, CREDIT: JOHAN PERSSON

Cacti, NDT2 2016, Photo: JOHAN PERSSON

Audience member: When did you start training?

Rachel: I started when I was three – a long time ago!

Benjamin: I started a bit later when I was thirteen.

Audience member: Do you require classical ballet training?

Rachel: I think it depends on the company and the work you’re doing and the dancer. We’re both trained in ballet and we start each day with a ballet class, but all of us come from many different countries and backgrounds and training and so we bring those differences into the repertoire we’re doing. It’s important to have some classical training but to be able to use that and go beyond it.

Audience member: Is it all about interpretation or is there a narrative or storyline?

Rachel: It depends on the piece. There’s definitely an intention behind every piece. mutual comfort is about the relationships between the dancers on stage. There’s a sensuality. There might not be a full story or narrative but it’s opened up for the audience to feel something and interpret it in their own way, or maybe they see their own story in it.

Audience member: Assuming you don’t have an injury, how long can you keep going? What happens when your body says ‘that’s enough’ – what do you do then?

Rachel: I think that depends on the dancer and what they want. And also the type of dance and the way you dance changes as you get older. There are dancers in NDT1 who have had families who still dance beautifully. Sometimes dancers choose to stop early, not because of their body, but because they want to do something else, or many go into choreography or teaching, or some go into something completely different. Right now I hope to be dancing for much longer so I can’t really say personally what I’ll be doing.

Audience member: How important is the applause? Is the dancing the rewarding part or do you like to get that response from the audience?

Benjamin: We always love a response from the audience and you guys were amazing thank you (laughs) but of course we do it for the dance, it’s a way of expressing ourselves on stage. It’s good to feel a vibe coming back and it’s a great feeling on stage to have an audience with a great energy.

Audience: You don’t ever feel, ‘I’m tired and I want to go home now’?

Rachel: (laughs) No. It’s funny because when you’re on stage you can actually feel an audience’s energy and even if they’re not saying anything or laughing or making any noise, you can feel it. Audiences can be really different and it actually really helps me understand the piece when I can feel the audience reacting. It gives me energy or it helps us to share something. We dance to share, and it’s an honour to share it.

Benjamin: It’s also nice to have a piece like Cacti where it’s almost interactive with the audience, we hear you laugh and it’s really nice to feel like we’re playing with you and you’re playing back. It’s a nice feeling!

To see the microsite for NDT2’s 2016 UK Tour or book tickets for the show at Sadler’s Wells Theatre, click here.

For contemporary dance fans, follow Dance Consortium on Twitter for news of their future tours.

sarah@dekretser.com

HdK’s guide to successful YouTube-ing

Not long ago Hans and I attended YouTube’s very own seminar where expert YouTubers divulged the best practises for implementing a super savvy video content strategy.

youtube

And as YouTube is now the second largest search engine globally, we thought we’d share some useful pointers on how to tackle the beast – straight from the horse’s mouth. From beginner Tubers to fully-fledged video makers looking to grow audiences, the following carefully honed hashtags apply to anyone wanting to share content on the channel.

#Shareability – will people share your content?

Is your content emotionally inspiring or relatable? If your content talks to people, you start a conversation. When viewers see content that communicates to them personally, they feel excited to pass the message on to friends, family and followers. Are these title structures familiar to you: Things people who don’t need glasses will understand or You know you love food when…?   So simple. So effective. Whether your content inspires laughter, fascination or even tears, a video that evokes an emotional response compels viewers to share the link.

#Accessibility – can each of your videos be appreciated by a new viewer?

It’s very easy to become wrapped up in your channel and forget that every new viewer is joining your conversation mid-way. Make sure your video is open to fresh eyes through video introductions, appropriate titling and accurate captioning. Assume viewers have never heard of you, aim to hook them in the first 10 seconds and don’t keep them more than 2 minutes. In today’s world, viewers want bite-sized chunks of information. Unless you really know what you’re doing, you won’t be able to get away with videos longer than this.

#Discoverability – will your videos be found through search?

You must be smart with your titles and descriptions – they should be both relevant and intriguing. While your title should be clear and concise, the video description is where you can go into depth, providing insight into you and the channel. An example familiar to us all is including lyrics in the description of a music video – if a fan knows the chorus but not the song title, the lyrics will help them find your video.

Most importantly, tags are the best way to frontload relevant key words. One of YouTube’s most valuable tips was to include a random word, not associated with in the bass layer of all your videos’ tags. This way, it’s more likely your videos will show up on the right hand side when a video of yours is playing. Another way to do this is to use Playlists. This way viewers are lead directly from one vid to the next! And in answer to a popular question, it doesn’t matter what order your video’s tags are in.

Finally, trends trends trends. Are there any big events, days or celebrations coming up? Find them, join them, and really use them. You can use Google’s trend tool, google.com/trends to find out what’s happening and keep up to date with what your audiences are talking about.

#Collaboration – can you include other creators in your videos?

Joining forces is the best way to grow your audiences. The top tip for collaborating is involving people who have relevant audiences. Will your viewers be interested and vice versa? If successful, you’ll naturally feed off each other’s fans. Like friendly, intelligent leeching.

#Consistency – are there strong, recurring elements to your idea?

What’s your stamp? How do people recognise your content as yours? Is it content, genre, format, set-up, schedule, voice…? Whatever it is, it’s got to be strong, consistent and reliable. One specific tip here that might surprise you, is to steer away from having text on your thumbnail image. With your title and name readily available, the thumbnail is all you really have to market your video, and it’s your opportunity to seamlessly interlink your popping artwork to your clever titling. Design a high contrast, high impact and high resolution thumbnail that stands out.

#Targeting – do you have a clearly defined audience?

If the answer is no, you’ve fallen at the first hurdle. This one really is very important. Begin by answering the following questions: What is the purpose of my channel? Who is the channel for? What do I want to say? The clearer your idea of your audience is, the more likely you are to reach them.

#Conversation – are you initiating conversation with your audience?

Conversation is the key to engagement. You’ll find that highly successful bloggers talk directly to the lens, a simple technique used to simulate eye contact and generate a relationship through the camera. You’ll hear conversational content interspersed with colloquial terms ‘you guys’; questions ‘how are we doing today?’ and fillers ‘you know’, are all geared towards engaging the viewer in an online conversation.

#Interactivity – can you involve your audiences in your videos?

Vivaldi Partners Group coined the term Social Currency in 2010, defining it as “the degree to which customers share a brand or information about a brand with others.” It’s about the experiences and participation that is created around a brand which creates value. This is particularly essential amongst younger audiences. Don’t be a nameless and faceless entity. Audiences on YouTube want to connect with their favourite channels. One way to do this is to engage in the comments section of your videos. Keep revisiting your comments section and respond to first-time viewers. Another way is to mention your audience members by name, this might be through shout-outs or competitions, as this cultivates an emotional engagement with fans and helps to builds a social arena around your content. Think of your videos as opportunities for your viewers.

Finally, always have a subscribe link in your description and be prepared to talk about subscribing. Instruct people verbally as to why they should subscribe in your videos. SPEAK TO YOUR VIEWER. They just want to be loved.

#Sustainability – if your audience loves it, can you make more of it?

This is a key question, and if the answer is no, or not quickly, you could be in trouble. Updating content regularly not only keeps your channel fresh, but it sustains people’s attention. If they can rely on the fact that returning to your channel means seeing something new, they’ll do exactly that.

#Inspiration – are you your number one advocate?

This one links to the point before; are you passionate about the idea and is it sustainable? If you don’t love your videos, you won’t be inspired to make more. Don’t let this be the case!

So, these are our top pointers for practises to implement into your overall YouTube strategy – not a check list for every video! As a general rule, keep your videos short, create thumbnails that pop and remember, content is king. GOOD LUCK and let us know how you get on.

sarah@dekretser.com

2014? Check. Hello 2015

The new year is time to take stock of what has passed and what will be it seems. There have been so many reviews of 2014 and predictions for 2015 that I considered the best service I could offer was to review the reviews for our first post of the year.

In 2014, HdK Assoc said a sad goodbye to one of our developers, Ashe, as he went to pastures new. Good news is that he still consults for us from time to time. We also said hello to Ken and Audrius. Both have different and complementary skills that enables us to expand what we offer our clients including our first mobile phone app for the Family Arts Festival.

Trends we spotted last year included the increased amount of content creation that we do. Sophie, Peter, Ewan and myself have been making videos-a-plenty interviewing artists across the globe… well, Europe at least. And we seem to be re-purposing video content into more and more formats for different social media platforms.  In 2014 we began to feel that Social Media was a best that would devours what we fed it.  Look out for a post about film and video from Peter very soon.

For years we’ve been told to encourage interactivity on websites so we’ve been building features that allow visitors to leave reviews. But we see less and less reviews being left on websites now and more on Social Media. For a few years we’ve been integrating social media feeds directly on to websites but in 2014 we started to integrate Storify direct into the Dance Umbrella website and I think this will be the way forward for 2015.  With this method you can curates your audience feedback across different social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook into one place.

Generally, we can see, our clients have been allocating more of their budget to Social Media management and content creation in 2014 along with more for online advertising. Our clients continue to commission websites and microsites to run alongside the social media campaigns. It is true that they are simplified in terms of content but they have to work on a wider range of mobile devices.

Looking forward to 2015, and having read other people’s predictions, I think we’ll be getting more analytical about the Social Media while looking to increase our activity on platforms such as Instagram who recently made a splash in the Press about now having more active users than Twitter. Once small thing we’re starting to do is helping clients roll out twitter cards to improve their links from Twitter to their website. Fundraising is increasingly on our clients lips and we find that it is crossing over with the work we do. I predict we’ll be exploring this area more this year as we discover how Social and Digital can play its role.

So let’s see what happens in 2015. We’ll be adding a few more predictions from HdK team members over the coming days including Sophie on Social Media, Peter’s thoughts about film and Raf’s thoughts on web design.