Well, it looks like we’ve come to the end of March and Collaboration Month. Not necessarily a national month of recognizing those who Collaborate, but as I spent a good deal of the month writing, preparing and speaking on the topic, it seemed natural to focus on Collaboration for March.
In this final installment, I’ll share the final five tips which we’ve found to be important to any successful collaboration or potential outcomes from engaging with partners. Hope you’ve found this series helpful and do share any stories or examples you have where collaboration went well… or possibly not so well!
Online and Off – The proliferation of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and the countless other social platforms allows us to take the relationships we have with our audiences and patrons and create deeper more meaningful engagements with the arts. Why not expose these arts enthusiasts to even more fascination and enlightenment through close partnerships that will allow you to share your content with other organization’s followers and for them to share theirs with your audience.
Many Hands – Committees do their best work when there’s a plan to follow and each member is assigned a role. Once the project or campaign is defined, constant communication is needed from the project lead. Suggestions include orgs with the most prolific marketers on the team leveraging media contacts for traditional ads, mentions and articles. Another organization can take the lead on building a specific Facebook presence, while yet another may assist with writing posts for social media.
Traditional media also allows for collaboration to leverage normal advertising and promotion activities for a common goal. With true media partners, they will look at this opportunity to solidify their relationship with the involved parties, while creating additional content that connects their brand to yours.
Experimentation – While most organizations have limited amounts of money and time, by engaging in a collaborative partnership, groups can take on projects larger than themselves. Whether it’s adding programming, fundraising, expanding reach beyond their current buildings, cooperative efforts show the world that the arts can work together.
Unintended Consequences – Always be aware of potential unintended consequences when engaging in a collaborative effort. As with many things, perhaps you enter the relationship with an idea of achieving one objective, while another positive outcome, with an entirely different impact, becomes the result. In the world of advertising and promotion, it is difficult to know what element of a campaign or message might connect with a supporter, why not use every possible opportunity to expand your audience and increase your chances for success?
Be Selective – While arts councils as an example serve a role as being inclusive of all organizations and artists, successful collaborations are more selective when determining which organizations participate. Parameters such as geography, genre or size may be the best way to determine the best partners to work with. By limiting the number of organizations, it is easier to manage the expectations and remain flexible to changes that inevitably will arise. Be careful and diplomatic in how you make your decisions, because you never know who may become your next dancing partner.
SUMMARY – Let’s face it, the time for tall silos between non-profits, and specifically, the arts organizations is over. We can no longer continue to defend our territory, when everything in culture and communication is about sharing and expanding and growing. The arts are not a zero-sum game and if you are programming and promoting properly, there are limitless opportunities for our collective future.
Collaborations may not be the next business model for the arts, but if the time is right and there are partners that are complimentary, we should all explore the possibility as a way of continuing growth and outreach of our organizations and look beyond the tried and true to new relationships that will resonate with new and old patrons alike.