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DID “ART INC.” MISS A NUIT BLANCHE BRANDING OPPORTUNITY?
Toronto is taking down the posters and cleaning up the streets after hosting the 2013 edition of Nuit Blanche. Over a million attended 2012’s Nuit Blanche; early estimates put this year’s crowd even higher. What did the throngs see? Some of the 112 exhibits were brilliantly conceived and executed with consummate skill; Ai Wei Wei’s mammoth “Forever Bicycles” installation being a prime example. But the planning and execution of too many exhibits was dubious and shoddy; too many shrugs in the audience, too much overblown conceptual rhetoric announcing exhibits of underwhelming impact. Artists must be free to present what they want to regardless of viewer impact; exhibits of all levels should be part of Nuit Blanche. But think marketing for a moment. Suppose the world of art, as represented by Nuit Blanche, was a start-up business called Art Inc.; a business with highly variable products that was struggling to grow its customer base. Art Inc. might approach Nuit Blanche as a trade fair to display its products to a huge audience, an audience which includes many first-time viewers. Which products should be put on display? Everything, or at least the best of everything. This is not to say that Art Inc. should only display what sells best or that they should avoid exhibits that are edgy, mystifying or highly political. But shouldn’t everything they display help attract more visitors? Can this analogy tell Nuit Blanche planners anything about what to include next year?
Perhaps only this: there were many thousands on the streets on Saturday night who never go into art galleries or view art in any media. Their only intentional contact with art might be during Nuit Blanche. If we assume that Nuit Blanche wants to attract more people to the arts and bring more art into the community, then does it not follow that the exhibits selected are of top quality?
And does it not also follow that the art treasures held by museums and gallaries that are normally behind closed doors and protected by steep admission fees are also at least partially included in Nuit Blanche? The Gardiner Museum across from the ROM was open to all free of charge for the evening; the Gardiner houses a fascinating collection of ancient and contemporary ceramic art. While there would be significant concerns in simply throwing the doors open at the AGO, ROM and private galleries to all comers for Nuit Blanche, might not all these institutions benefit from limited displays of selected holdings with perhaps a token charge to cover security costs? Or should Nuit Blanche ignore this talk of branding in favour of Johannes Scheffer’s words: “The rose is without why, it blooms because it blooms, it cares not for itself, asks not if it is seen”? Thanks, Nuit Blanche, for another stellar evening.
IS THE BLOG DEAD?
Being a self-employed solo-preneur, I am trying to build up my online profile, improve my SEO and drive more traffic to my blog. I want to get noticed. I want my inbox to fill up with queries. I want calls offering me sweet contracts. So I have started blogging.
Trouble is millions of other struggling self-employed solo-preneurs are blogging. So I have a question:
Is blogging a waste of time? If you are Margaret Atwood, no. She has over 430,000 followers on Twitter. People are eager to read what she has to say. Her tweeting and blogging enhances her brand.
But I am not Margaret Atwood. I have self-published one slim business book, a few dozen articles, a few short stories and a few mediocre poems in thankfully obscure chapbooks and journals. So my followership is somewhat thinner than Atwood’s. So, is blogging a waste of time for me? Yes. Why?
4 Reasons why the Blog May Be Dead:
1) There are far too many blogs to keep up with. Everyone is blogging. I have stumbled upon excellent blogs by talented writers who have great things to say, yet they are relatively unknown. So their posts linger on my screen like orphans, bereft of comments. I came across a fascinating blog started in 2010, full of great posts but with only two comments in total. At the start of 2009, the Technorati site (http://technorati.com/) estimated there were over 200 million blogs. In 2010 Hat Trick Associates (http://www.hattrickassociates.com/2010/02/how_many_blogs_2011_web_content/) estimated there were about 450 million active blogs in English. Today (fall, 2013) that number could be well over one billion, or more than one blog per person on Earth.
2) Does anyone read these blogs? I have time to follow a 3 or 4 blogs consistently, and surf through another handful every week. If I have trouble keeping up with only an infinitesimally small portion of the blogs I might be interested in, that means others have about the same amount of time for my blog.
3) Do I have the time & talent for blogging? Being obsessed by Canadian federal politics, –an acquired taste, I confess– I follow Warren Kinsella’s great blog (http://warrenkinsella.com/). Kinsella, a long-time political operative and Liberal Party strategist, blogs because he is passionate about politics. He is also a journalist and author of 7 books. He writes well. He has lots of followers. Few of us can write like Warren Kinsella. He blogs every day. He responds to comments on his blogs. I don’t know how much time he spends blogging, but my guess is at least an hour a day. Do I have the time to keep blogging? Not every day. Can I write compelling content that will attract followers? Not consistently and not without a lot of work.
4) How will I know if my blogging is helping my business? With inspired content and hard work, blogging may build my brand, but how can I measure if it is building my business? I know there are traffic analytics I can use, and technicians I can hire to do this for me, but the first requires a lot more time and second requires a lot more money. As a solo operator, time and money are limited so how can I measure my investment in blogging?
So…….Does blogging work for you? Or are you blogging on faith?
When I was 7 years old, I wrote a note “to whom it may concern” and stuffed it into an empty Hires Root Beer bottle. The note included my address in Montreal; I asked the finder to please let me know where and when my bottle was found. My grandfather helped me seal the bottle with a wine cork, twine, and candle wax. The next day, en route back from Victoria to Vancouver aboard the ferry, I tossed my bottle into the sea. I haven’t thought about my note in that bottle for decades. This was a forgotten gesture of faith; a child’s hope that someone, somewhere, someday would find my message and let me know.
Many job seekers submit job applications online holding the same faith with which I tossed that bottle into the sea. We hope that someone, somewhere, someday will read our detailed resume and our well-crafted cover letter and call us for an interview. Many employers use Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) which scan resumes for keywords and specific criteria. If those exact words and criteria are not found, the application is rejected. With the proliferation of online job boards and RSS feeds, job postings swiftly reach huge audiences. Employers receive thousands of applications in response to these job postings. The chances of your fine resume and carefully written cover letter ever being read by a human being are equivalent to your chances of winning a national lottery, or only slightly better than my chances of ever getting a reply to my note in that bottle. Instead, only send your resume and cover letter to someone you know who can influence the hiring manager. How do you get that name? Network, network, network. Use your network to find out who is hiring, or who has access to the individual doing the hiring. Sounds easy? Of course not. Networking for the name of a person with influence can take substantial amounts of time and effort. Simply replying to a job posting online is so much easier. But hard work and careful research will always trump convenience when it comes to getting an interview with a hiring manager.
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