News & Notes
When I’m not taking impromptu camping trips, I turn to my close friends, family, and sometimes colleagues for their two cents on what to do with my time. Connecting with my network recently paid-off: I had the opportunity to see SIX, a terrific musical about the six wives of Henry VIII and a production I wouldn’t have known about or attended otherwise. (A big thank you to my colleague Ashley for the recommendation!)
This type of informal, social recommendation channel is important for many of our museum and arts clients, of course, especially when it comes to audiences who are less affiliated and less familiar with the organization’s programming. Our research across the cultural sector shows that infrequent attenders and newcomers depend even more than others on recommendations and endorsements from those who are closest to them. Yet it’s not always clear how cultural organizations can actively leverage word-of-mouth to get more people in the door (aside from creating relevant, exciting experiences that their audiences enthusiastically share out).
What if there was a way to help get the word out to more people, and especially to newer audiences?
Some cultural organizations in the UK have an answer. Over the past few decades, they’ve engaged ambassadors to help link arts organizations to new audiences, or engage existing audiences in a deeper fashion. As Mel Larsen explains, arts ambassadors are community networkers who can spread positive messages about organizations to attract a wider audience. They are genuinely passionate and motivated to share about these organizations through word-of-mouth. And it’s a two-way street; audiences can also relay their feedback so that, over time, programming is tailored more closely to their interests and needs.
In the US, the practice never really took off, despite many arts organizations’ attempts to reach “influencers” in the hope that they would become unofficial ambassadors on their own. Does your organization have an ambassadors program? If so, how has it worked? And what are some other ways in which we can help our audiences spread the word? Email me. I’d like to hear about your work and ideas!
Photo: Gordon Johnson, Pixabay