Press release: How Strong is Your Social Net? study goes national

We’ve sent out national news releases for our How Strong is Your Social Net? survey. The full text of the press release is below.

For Immediate Release : June 16, 2011

For more information, contact: Dottie Jeffries, (212) 872-1670; djeffries2 {at}

Trudel | MacPherson Arts Consulting announces landmark national survey of arts organizations’ digital communications and social media practices and perceptions

-Call to participate-

New York, NY- Responding to input from arts leaders striving to get the most out
of the latest digital communications tools, Trudel | MacPherson (T|M), an arts
consultancy, is fielding a national survey to measure usage of—and attitudes
toward—digital and social media in the arts.

The survey, How Strong is Your Social Net?, measures messaging alignment,
resource allocation and communications effectiveness of arts organizations across
the country. The landmark research effort, the first of what will be an annual series,
will provide a robust cross-section of current practices and perceptions, enabling
arts groups to compare their experiences to national trends.

T|M established an initial national baseline of data by inviting select nonprofit arts
groups to take the survey through their service organizations and local and regional
collaboratives. The objective of the baseline phase of the project was to establish a
statistical snapshot of arts organizations around the country using known measures
such as population density, concentrations of funding, and proximity to major
metropolitan areas.

Thus far, T|M has collected over 1,300 responses nationwide, more than two and a
half times the original statistical target for the baseline group.

Having concluded the baseline information capture phase successfully, T|M has
now opened the survey to all arts organizations. To participate in the project, arts
organizations are invited to visit to learn more about
the effort, sign up for email and social media updates, and take the survey, by
following the links on the home page.

Designed to take no more than 15-20 minutes to complete, the web-based survey
examines arts groups’ adoption and usage of digital and social media,
measurement tactics and return on investment, among many other topics of interest
to arts professionals, collaboratives, service organizations and funders. It also
probes arts managers’ perceptions of the effectiveness of social media and
examines internal policies and protocols around issues of community-building and
audience feedback through digital communications.

T|M developed the survey in partnership with Sen Associates, a digital
communications and user experience design consultancy. Sen Associates’
experience in the commercial and nonprofit sectors, as well as its background in
user research and strategic technology, helped to streamline the survey while still
examining digital media awareness, usage, and attitudes in-depth. Sen Associates
implemented the survey in such a way that the data will be suitable for interactive
presentation and dynamic display when the information capture period has been

The findings will be tabulated regionally as well as nationally. The results will
describe platforms and standards used by respondents, perceptions of utility among
communications professionals, target audiences, and alignment of digital media
with overall communications goals and policies.

Drawing on their background in arts engagement, including their work at The
Wallace Foundation for a combined 25 years supporting arts groups’ audience
building efforts, T|M’s principals, along with Sen Associates analysts, have
observed several important patterns after evaluating the initial baseline data.

“Even those who are leading the field and getting outstanding results are not
completely sure they’re communicating consistently, clearly and compellingly,”
commented principal Rory MacPherson. T|M principal Mary Trudel added: “These
leaders also wonder if they are connecting authentically with patrons and fans, and
are concerned about how to sustain and improve the effectiveness of what they’re

“One of the clearest national indications thus far,” said Jai Sen, principal at Sen
Associates and lead analyst in the tabulation of the results, “is that arts
organizations of all sizes are showing a willingness to engage and experiment with
digital media and are getting results. The field has entered a new stage of attitudes
toward digital media.”

Recently, local arts organizations affiliated with the St. Louis Regional Arts
Commission (RAC), the largest arts funder in the St. Louis region and one of the
collaboratives invited to join the baseline phase of the project, participated in a
focus group about the Survey, and T|M led a workshop where results for a
selection of RAC grantees were compared with national findings to date. RAC,
which is charged with contributing to the St. Louis area’s economic development
through the arts, welcomed the opportunity to be involved in the project. The
survey is a way for arts organizations to gain new knowledge and insight that will
strengthen their ability to engage audiences.

Jill McGuire, RAC founder and executive director, commented, “We were
extremely pleased to participate in this breakthrough survey and workshop. Our
major institutions learned new techniques to greatly improve their communications
and benchmark themselves against national trends.”

T|M will release the findings of the national survey this fall in conjunction with an
online webinar hosted by the National Arts Marketing Project that T|M will present
on September 21. On September 23, T|M will make a related presentation at the
SouthArts Performing Arts Exchange Conference highlighting results from the
southeastern region. At both events, T|M consultants, along with Sen Associates
principal Jai Sen, will discuss the implications of the data for improving the quality
and effectiveness of digital communications as part of an organization’s overall
mission and identity.

In October, a searchable summary of the national project’s results and insights will
be made available on the T|M website with interactivity that will allow visitors to
filter, search, and view the data in ways relevant to their interests and situation —
interpreting information by region, by population or by digital communications
objectives, for example. More detailed reports, of select aspects of the national
findings as well as in-depth statistics by geography, will be made available to
requesting organizations through presentations, and T|M will offer workshops and
consulting sessions to help organizations better integrate digital and social media
into their holistic communications goals.

Trudel | MacPherson Arts Consulting ( specializes in
arts engagement, and works to help organizations be more effective and stand out
from the crowd. The consultancy’s main focus areas are brand development and
marketing outreach, using multiple online and traditional communications
channels, constituency engagement, event management, and peer learning
opportunities. Sen Associates, (, T|M’s partner in the
How Strong is Your Social Net? national research initiative, specializes in digital
communications, management consulting, and strategic technology.


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