Maintaining Relationships

Maintaining Relationships

By Jill Robinson, CEO

On Tuesday, more than 350 international arts leaders joined me for our first TRG 30, designed to provide a sector clearinghouse and gathering place for action during the COVID-19 crisis.  Not surprisingly, everyone’s minds, today, was focused on the NOW.  First up: maintaining relationships with patrons at a time when we’re not open, not performing, not accessible as normal.  As normal.

My point is we must be accessible, just in new and different ways. And I’m not a Pollyanna. I see how this is affecting our sector, our realities. But if we don’t get in front of our fear and change our tone and position as leaders in our communities, our relationships with our communities and patrons will not be as strong as we’ll require when this crisis is over. 

What do I mean?

  • Check your website’s home page.  Is the tone in your COVID-19 language operational, sounding like you’re taking marching orders and fulfilling requirements from your local or federal government? We all are, of course.  But more importantly: we’re all in this fight together, protecting each other against a common virus enemy. Let’s sound like we care about each other, our teams, our patrons, our communities.

  • Perform a similar check on your patron communications. We have an opportunity to engage for future contact, inspire people to want to stay in touch in the interim, and support our operations now until we can start operating again. We’ve got to collect patron data, segment our audiences, and talk to patrons based on their relationship with us. And we have to speak with confidence—that we can deliver our art and culture differently now, that arts and culture matter, and that we’ll be back.

  • Every transaction matters.  The materials from our TRG 30 today describe a variety of transaction types that you’re asking about and dealing with right now. Yes, refunds. AND: what about credit vouchers that provide your customers a financial or other incentive as an alternative to a refund (…thank you, TodayTix, for the inspiration)? And because these transactions matter, it also matters how they’re managed. Have you evaluated staffing to ensure that the team that’s on the front line is rested, has the necessary levels of energy themselves during this challenging time?

The group asked great questions about frequency of timing for communications (regular, segmented, check your opt-out data to ensure you’re not losing them); how to be personal when we can’t be physically with people (let’s learn from our teenagers about how best to use social media and other digital tools to bridge this gap); and if subscription campaigns haven’t yet been launched, LAUNCH THEM. This “we’ll be back” confident messaging can be paired with details about how we’ll manage timing and delivery of the season as we learn more.

And: there’s so much more to come as details and realities change.

Each week TRG 30 will address the issues important to you, the arts and cultural field we serve. In the meantime, join me, your international peers, and our TRG team in the LinkedIn TRG 30 Virtual Network for real-time, daily exchange of ideas and information.

We’ll come out of this stronger together.  Until then, may the force be with you.


Posted March 18, 2020

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