New Futurelearn Course Notes – ‘Fundraising and Leadership in Arts and Culture’

I’ve been meaning, and indeed been trying to get back into online learning this month. In fact, I did start a new FutureLearn course entitled ‘Social Innovation’, but somehow it didn’t click with me, so I’ve decided to leave that one and restart with a shorter course on  ‘Effective Fundraising and Leadership in Arts and Culture‘. I’ve spent most of my career so far working in the cultural sector, but on the marketing and communications side rather than fundraising and development, although, of course, there’s always plenty of overlap. I’m currently writing this by swapping back and forth between my blog and the  course introduction, and it looks very promising so far.

The introduction talks about a few basic ideas of funding models – the UK falls somewhere between the US style of arts funding via trusts and private giving, and the European model of centralised government funding. In the past, this has been presented to me as a positive, since it provides a diverse range of funding sources to draw on, and also means that an arts organisation shouldn’t be too influenced by one source and their views/needs. However, I have seen that in practice that is a very resource-heavy way of operating – there’s a lot of work involved in the planning, communication and administration of many different money pots, and many organisations aren’t able to keep up as a result.

Anyway, I’ll be checking back in with this course and with more notes before the weekend (hopefully!)


Sailing and Charities and Positive Thinking

So, I’ve just arrived back from the marketing conference I mentioned in Monday’s post, which I was hoping would inspire me with some more ideas for this blog. It was actually a really good day, and I think I got a lot out of it. However, by the time I got back from North Yorkshire, having been utterly lost in the Pennines and then stuck in rush hour traffic, I was grumpy, stiff and in no mood to be positive about my day.

Firing up my laptop, I found I’d had an email from The Julibee Sailing Trust, a charity I recently donated to, with this attached short film. I’d urge anyone reading this to watch it, even if it’s just a short portion.

When working in the arts and cultural sector as I do, or indeed with a charity like JST (I volunteer with the Rona Sailing Project) it’s sometimes easy to become a bit detached from your charitable cause, and sometimes even start to wonder whether it’s worth it. After all, there are charities literally out there saving people’s lives, providing medical treatment, clean water, food or homes. What good does a theatre show or sailing trip or nice day in the countryside provide? But then something like this video comes along and reminds you that new life experiences can profoundly change someone’s life, their outlook and their goals. Sometimes it’s in a big way, sometimes it’s something quite small. Sometimes it’s a sudden life change, and sometimes it’s something that grows with time.

It’s also difficult sometimes not to feel like you’re being preachy or worthy, and telling people ‘yes, this is good for you’. But seeing the pure joy that can come from facilitating new experiences, big or small, without ulterior motive or judgement (and I work in marketing, so it’s hard not to separate my job from the ulterior motive of income generation) really hit home to me with this. I didn’t think that I was becoming cynical about my job, and I hope I never will, at least, as long as there are reminders like this out there.

I’m not really sure how to end this, so I’d just like to mention that if you liked the video, you might want to donate to Jubilee Sailing Trust or Rona Sailing Project.

Notes from a LinkedIn Marketing Webinar

On Thursday, I managed to catch a Webinar from the marketing team at LinkedIn, about their thoughts on managing a marketing team and marketing in general. I was trying to listen and do some admin at the same time, but I did get some notes that I wanted to pop up here! It was really useful to hear some leadership and management strategies, alongside more general marketing ideas, as I’ve not really managed teams at higher levels before.

Some things to think about with a marketing team – what creative skills link into marketing?

What builds a good team? – Diversity, including background, skills and life experience.

Different job behaviours- a mix of practical and strategic-minded people

  • Are they a ‘culture fit’ for your organisation (I have mixed thoughts about this, because what it should mean is, do they have a passion for your company’s aims, but what it often means is ‘I want a yes man.’)

(At the point the livestream had a few technical issues so I missed some of the next part, but I do have a note about it being important to give staff space to grow.) 

How do you stay up to date on new trends?

  • There are real advantages to a company being an early adopter of new technology and processes.
  • It’s important to have an understanding of different platforms and products 
  • You should be working to keep on board with influencers and publications in your industry
  • Test tech internally to find out if/how it can be useful, either now or in the future
  • Have a platform for getting people to learn quickly
  • Encourage learning in your teams, and get them to share examples and creativity in marketing.

Creativity in marketing 

  • Creativity, it’s solution/problem-solving, way around a solution
  • Marketing can be scrappy, at the intersection of creative and data science, using data to get to where you want to be.

95% of marketers define their job as stressful, so teams and managers need to find a way to combat that.

The online world doesn’t sleep, so focus on results and prioritise. Don’t just focus on urgent things, focus on important things. 

As a manager, let your team know you will back them up with stakeholders and put things in perspective. 

As a marketer, you have to move quickly so it’s important to step back and evaluate whether your approach is working. You need to know if your creative solutions are working, new technologies/social media etc. can give you this.

(The reminder to evaluate was particularly timely for me, having just finished up on summer marketing as well as a major crisis comms effort, I’ve finally got the time to do that before plunging into draft plans for a 2020 year plan!)

Big News!

So, there’s big news!

I’ve mentioned in previous posts (here and here) that I was going on a course for PRINCE2 Project Management – the very intensive course happened at the start of September, and I’m so happy to be able to say that I passed both my Foundation and Practitioner exams as of last week. I’ve done plenty of courses, but these are the first serious qualifications I’ve had since leaving university, and I’m pretty proud of that.

I’ve also started doing presentations and internal teaching sessions at my work. I’ve done two very different sessions on social media management, one on commercial/retail promotion, and the other started as a more general session, then moved into a discussion on managing negative comms. I’ve got another session the week after next on multi-channel marketing for events (for the record, I was pretty nervous after agreeing to three in short succession, especially as I’d never done anything like it before, but I’ve ended up really enjoying it so far!)

In a rare moment of organisation for this blog, I actually have another post ready – with a set of notes I took at a webinar on Thursday. Then tomorrow I’m headed to a marketing conference that I’m hoping will inspire some ideas or notes for another post (we’ll see!)

Managing a Work Instagram Account

I’m a little surprised that I haven’t covered this earlier in my blog, but then again, I’ve only been in my current job for seven months or so (it feels like a lot longer!) I’ve only started thinking about this since I’m doing a presentation on Tuesday about managing social media accounts, and I realised the wildly different tack I’ve been taking with Instagram.

In previous roles, I’ve managed Facebook and Twitter accounts, including multiple Facebook pages for one company, but I’ve had less to do with Instagram, except during events where I was given a work phone and mostly did Instagram stories. The day to day of Instagram wasn’t something I’d worked on before, and it’s been an interesting an very different learning curve.

Instagram is far, far, more of a visual medium than Twitter/Facebook, and the way people use it is also wildly different. People curate a feed of images that they like to look through, so in order to get the best reach and engagement, you also need to curate your images and how you manage them. I’d heard and read plenty about the idea of a specific Instagram aesthetic, but I’d never thought about how much matching colours and tones within the grid of an account makes it look more slick and professional. Also, as someone who is used to marketing a lot of events, you do have a take a much less ‘sell-y’ approach – generally I save those kinds of posts for when I really think they’ll made a difference (or I’m desperate…) and try and tailor the image and copy to be a much more soft, engagement style of marketing.

One more thing – while I try to keep a constant presence up on Facebook and Twitter (and I’ve talked in the past about my scheduling systems) I don’t feel the need to do that with Instagram. Every few days seems to work just fine, and ensures that I’m not putting up substandard images for the sake of keeping the ball rolling.



July Update Post – Managing Projects, Managing Content

So, time for a little update post before the end of July!

PRINCE2 madness starts 

I’ve started my PRINCE2 coursework ready for the main course to start in September (more on that from this previous post.) Its mainly learning the technical jargon and getting to grips with basic project management processes, and I’m mostly wavering between excited for the course to start, and terrified that I won’t know everything in time. I also have a large file full of highlighted notes, which is giving me studenthood flashbacks. 

Content, what is it?

In my job, I’ve been asked to work on helping people in my organisation figure out what makes a good story, particularly in terms of social media,and they can communicate that to their own marketing and comms leads. I’ll be doing a talk later this year on ‘what makes good content’ and how to link content to a particular message or call to action.

Good reads this week

This post from Arts Council England resonated with me rather a lot, especially because I sometimes wonder whether I spent too much of my working day creating really good social content, and then wondering whether it is valued by either my audience or colleagues. It turns out this is a fairly universal social media manager worry!

From the archives

It also reminded me that last year I wrote out this little post on ‘in the moment social media‘, that I probably could have gone into a lot more depth with , but basically blows out the water the idea that good content is easy, spontaneous and just the click of a phone camera away. Most of my work social media is in fact less day-by-day planned than it used to be (though I can still produce content a week in advance where needed) because when you’re marketing outdoor events and venues, you are entirely at the mercy of the Great British weather. However, I’m still working with sets of pre-planned phrases, photos and ideas, it’s a matter of quick edits and popping them into at the right times. As social media is only one part of my job, this helps to plan out my day by setting aside time to handle it all more efficiently, whilst still being a little bit reactive to customer queries etc.!

FutureLearn: Intercultural Communications Week 4 – Values?

Week four of my FutureLearn course (you can find previous posts here: Week 1, Week 2, Week 3) introduces ‘Values’ and how they affect intercultural communication:

Values are often considered a core element of culture. It refers to what is important, what is desirable, and what is our guiding principle for life – Steve Kulich

Values are compared to an iceberg, you might only see the surface part of it reflected in everyday situations, but below it there is a whole other part which informs how those values came about and are practiced, which you can’t directly observe.

We were asked to look at an article, again by Steve Kulich, where he quotes a previous researcher

Shalom Schwartz similarly (2005a, reprinted here as chapter 8) suggests three basic human needs, which he suggests our values seek to satisfy. These are the needs of individuals as biological organisms, requisites of coordinated social interaction, and survival and welfare needs of groups.

(Excerpt from Intercultural Research Vol. 4 Chap 1 Kulich

Values Studies: The Origins and Development of Core Cross-Cultural Comparisons)

Basically, the article asserts that cultural values are created to bind a society together, and better understand the environment that society grows out of, and (as we’ve seen earlier on in the course) the values are often unconscious (again with the iceberg, below-the-surface comparison), which means we don’t often notice or consider our own values until we encounter different ones.

Of course, historically values were often codified by authority or educational figures who laid out specific ways in which people were advised to live their lives (Confucius is referenced several times, and of course various religious figures such as Jesus or the Prophet Mohammed. From the end of the 19th century onwards, researchers tried to create systems of values to apply theory to – much of these were geographically based and assert that our cultural values are determined by upbringing and immediate environment in our early years. However much of the early research came from one scholar writing about a culture distinctly different from their own, which often came with certain biases. Since then, research has started to be conducted at an international level to try and determine what common factors and variances different cultures have, how they intersect and how they differ.

One very important research project was created by researchers Clyde and Florence Kluckhohn in the 1950s, who posited the following five questions to define someone’s cultural values:

    1. What is our orientation to human nature?
    2. What is the relation of man to nature?
    3. What is our time focus?
    4. What is our orientation toward activity?
    5. What is important in our social

Their project was focused on geographically close but culturally different communities within the United States. A more recent and international study came up with the following seven contracts.

  1. Universalism vs. particularism.
  2. Individualism vs. communitarianism.
  3. Specific vs. diffuse
  4. Neutral vs. emotional.
  5. Achievement vs. ascription.
  6. Sequential vs. synchronous time.
  7. Internal vs. outer direction.

However, I don’t think you would want to consider these as binary options, perhaps except in the case of directly comparing two very different cultures where they would definitely be more one [option] than other [option]?

However, these lead onto the GLOBE “Global Leadership and Organizational Behavior Effectiveness” project, which the course linked an intro to here: and I definitely need to keep and read through as a business-focused view on intercultural communications and issues.