Landmarks Orchestra Executive Director Jo Frances Meyer Discusses the Importance of PR for Nonprofit Organizations
As a nonprofit arts organization, why is it important for you to have a PR and marketing strategy in place?
Jo Frances Meyer
As one of the most unique orchestras in the country presenting weekly concerts during the summer at Boston’s Hatch Shell, we have a great story to tell. But as a small nonprofit arts organization with a limited budget, we can’t spend a great deal on paid advertising to get the word out about our free concerts. So, having a great PR and marketing strategy in place is essential for us. Without effective PR and marketing, we wouldn’t be able to share our story with potential audience members, community leaders, and the local philanthropic community.
Your work is very seasonal, how do you plan from a PR and marketing standpoint? How do you prioritize when you have such diverse program offerings week-by-week?
It’s imperative for us to prioritize our marketing strategies to highlight our diverse program offerings. Every summer, each of our concerts has its own story to tell through various musical themes, diverse community partners involved, and distinct neighborhoods we seek to engage. This past season, in our opening concert, we showcased local nonprofit youth musical organization ZUMIX through a new commission by international composer Gonzalo Grau and we celebrated a classic in collaboration with St. Paul’s Girls School from the United Kingdom. Under these circumstances, having a talented, savvy, experienced PR and marketing team to help us prioritize the stories we want to pitch to local media is critical. We focus a lot of energy on PR and marketing in the months immediately leading up to our concert season in July and August. But it is also essential for us to be active all year long on social media. You never want your audiences and friends to forget about you.
What is the most important thing you’ve learned as an organization about a strong PR strategy?
When we are successful in garnering positive media attention through strong and effective PR work, resulting in coverage published in the newspaper or featured on-air about our work and our mission, we’re then able to share that story with our circle of friends, donors, audience members, and community partners. And they, in turn, can share in the excitement we feel to be recognized by local media, and they feel proud that they have invested in our work and our mission. Being recognized for the free concerts and education programs we believe in, creates a virtuous cycle of reinforcement for everyone.
How do you define success from a marketing standpoint?
When we attract an audience of 4,000 – 5,000 people each week from across the region at the Hatch Shell, when our donors and audience members tell us that they read a great story about us in the local paper, or heard about one of our concerts on a local radio station, and when we are able to attract philanthropic support from passionate donors at a level to sustain our work, we know that our story is getting out there in all the right ways. From our standpoint, these results demonstrate true marketing success.