Colleagues from all different departments of The Audience Agency reflect on the common themes of curiosity, connectedness and embracing change that particularly struck them during this year's big return to AMA.
Our Teams' Top Three Take Aways...
Adam Koszary, Head of Digital
- Post-pandemic digital lag. While a lot of places experimented and did well during the pandemic, they are now struggling to find the time and enthusiasm to update digital content/strategies to how audiences are behaving post-pandemic.
- Collaboration is (still) key. We’ve all missed connecting with colleagues across the sector – we need to get back into the habit of checking in with each other, collaborating and sharing what we’re working on.
- Thinking outside the box. The most fun and useful digital content and services come from having the freedom and space to experiment
Jane Rosier, Chief Marketing Officer
- A new perspective on authenticity. So asked Professor Jonathan Wilson in his thought-provoking and often challenging, keynote ‘Breaking the 4th Wall on Branding’. Authenticity has become a much overused word, not least in the cultural sector, so it was interesting to hear a take on what it means in the context of your own personal brand. ‘Getting acknowledged, accepted, endorsed and mirrored’ feels like it could be relevant in an organisational context too.
- How long is a piece of string? James Akers from Digital Culture Network delivered a timely reminder that in a sea of metrics, we should be measuring what we value (not valuing what we measure). It doesn’t matter how the long the piece of string is, what we should be asking is why it’s important we know.
- Applause is contagious. The closing keynote, ‘A Very Human Adventure,’ saw Sophie Scott delve into our brains and explore how we respond to live theatrical experiences. As social primates, interactions with others, such as being part of an audience, matter. Typical audience behaviours – including stillness, laughter, and applause – are contagious. They contribute to the shared experience, the memories they create and our sense of self.
Megan Tripp, Service and Community Manager
- Things are still a long, long way from 'normal'. Conversations I had or heard reinforced the sense that everyone's operating in uncharted territory. Audiences are behaving in weird and unpredictable ways. Recruitment is still a challenge. Worries about funding. Worries about the impact of cost of living increases. Everyone's really, really tired (but enthusiastic for being back together).
- Audience Spectrum updates are helping people get back on track. On a more positive note, there seemed to be a good amount of interest in and enthusiasm for the Audience Spectrum updates and the role they can play in helping organisations to map out their audience recovery strategies.
- Some examples stood out. If you want some examples of two contrasting organisations doing grassroots audience development brilliantly, then look no further than Wolverhampton Grand, and Spot On Lancs. I loved both their presentations.
Monique Ricketts, Consultant
- Curiosity cured the cat. Many of the sessions reflected on the theme of curiosity, following the period of experimentation during the pandemic with ways of reaching audiences and presenting content, many are returning to business as usual, with the space and the appetite for change internally within organisation notably reduced.
- Blue sky thinking. The focus in sessions was therefore on how organisations and individuals could continue to maintain curiosity, as Anne Starkey mentioned in the opening Keynote allowing for ‘blue sky thinking’, leading organisation to test new ideas through small pilots, lowering the associated risk, with learning from such pilots captured through feedback mechanisms, enabling incremental change.
- It takes a village. As shared in the Wolverhampton Grand session ‘Diversity and Inclusion — the bottom line’ — buy-in from wider teams on a strategic level was fundamental in engagement with communities, success in reaching such communities required organisational change including staffing and programming, not just marketing teams.
Rosanna Cant, Service and Community Manager
- Tooting our own horn. I was instantly greeted by a delegate when I arrived who was very eager to tell me how great they had found my colleague Adam’s talk to be. We also got compliments on the wider support The Audience Agency has been able to offer the sector through the crisis, which made us feel extremely proud and welcome - so thank you all for that.
- Don't forget how important it is to connect with colleagues. I was reminded that Arts Marketing roles can be very lonely and the ‘coming togetherness’ of events like conferences are so essential.
- Let's stay in touch. My main feeling/follow up thought is: how do we continue to engage with the warm feelings being expressed between colleagues from across the sector throughout the conference, and support that willingness to connect through our Community of users.
… the puddings were good too!
Rosie Hanley PR and Communications Manager
- Community and collaboration were the order or the day. Being back together in person was wonderful (and strange) and reconnecting with others was motivating. The sense of community and collaboration across delegates was dominant – people were happy to share their continued struggles post-pandemic, in the hope of finding shared support
- We've all been through the ringer. Nothing is better than remembering ‘we’re not in it alone’ and I enjoyed the Ask an Arts Marketer panel session – reminding us all we all face similar challenges….
- The arts' ability to adapt. It was inspiring to hear how organisations have continually adapted to the societal challenges thrown at them in recent years – I particularly loved hearing the ‘Brand Positioning and Audience Development during a Global Crisis’ session and how three different classical music organisations worked hard to find new ways of engaging with audiences.