Sunday, May 20, 2012

Learning by doing

It’s a rainy Melbourne day which means it’s the perfect opportunity for me to get stuck into my research and thoughts about the online world of arts organisations. 

My research today has started with a little procrastination, playing with my own blog. What I’ve learnt so far this morning (I’m a pretty quick learner!) is how to play with HTML code and how to add social plug-ins. Making changes to the HTML code will allow for a better ease of interface and adding social plug-ins will allow for sharing of content and comments to increase opportunities for dialogic communication with my publics. I came across two great sites that can help you to do both these things:

Learn to Code - Codeacademy

Social Sharing - AddThis

I’ve also been browsing through the Tumblr themes and figuring out which design suits my blog best and checking out my blog from my mobile to see how it looks on my beautiful Samsung Galaxy SII. I have enabled the mobile version of this blog in the customize settings for Tumblr. Most blog themes should allow this functionality these days although you might have to select it. 

This lead me to checking out my favourite Arts organisations on mobile. Firstly, I would like to congratulate Adelaide Festival for being the only Festival to have an app for Android and it’s a beautiful one (consequently, they’ve also started to update their blog again which I’ve written about previously here). Maybe this year the others will finally realise there are nearly as many Android handsets as iPhones in the Australian market and we’ll see some more apps for Android. Until then, how do their sites stack up when viewed for mobile? Have any of them created mobile sites? 

Sydney, Melbourne, and Adelaide Festival websites look lovely on mobile. They’re not created specifically with them in mind, but they work because they’re simple, and responsively designed - this means they have scalable images and adjustable layouts to compensate for the myriad of screen sizes now used to access websites from desktops, laptops, tablet, and mobile devices (See here, here and here for great articles on responsive design).  Adelaide and Melbourne Festival are particularly good. I’m impressed. 

I’ve also managed to allow a share functionality on each of my blog posts as I said by using the addthis app and also the option to follow me on my other social media platforms. Mashable have a really informative read on their website about share functionality that’s worth a read here. As the author of that article, Julie O’Dell states, social plug-ins can be tricky to implement and disrupt the layout of your blog or webpage so it’s worth playing around with to make it work. I personally struggled with it and I’m still not happy with how it’s looking on here. This prompted me to look into the share functionality of the festivals.

Unfortunately, as we have come to suspect, there is very little share functionality on the websites or blogs of the Australian Arts Festivals. Again, the stand outs are Adelaide and Sydney Festivals who do allow sharing to Facebook and Twitter but nothing else. This is just another example to support the research by many academics, that many marketing and pr practitioners just don’t understand the opportunity that the online world provides for creating meaningful relationships with their publics (Waters & Jamal, 2011; Rybalko & Seltzer 2010; McAllister-Spooner, 2009; Sommerfeldt, Kent & Taylor, 2012).  . It is particularly disappointing (although, perhaps I should see it as an opportunity) that not-for-profit arts organisations that have limited budgets aren’t aware of or fully understanding the opportunities that the Internet provides. As I’ve learnt today, some of the basics aren’t that hard to learn. Perhaps they could learn by doing as I have today?

Further reading and references for this post:

I highly recommend you check out the Codeacademy if you’re interested in learning to code. If you work for a small organisation you might be the only one with such skills or be able to work with your web designer in this area from a PR perspective. 

I also recommend you subscribe to Mashable for all your social media news and SmartCompany Internet Secrets blog and Business Tech Talk blog. 

If you have access to an academic database you might also want to read:

McAllister-Spooner, SM 2009, ‘Fulfilling the dialogic promise: A ten-year reflective survey on dialogic Internet principles’, Public Relations Review, vol. 35, iss. 3, retrieved 30 March 2012, Science Direct database.

Rybalko, S & Seltzer, T 2010, ‘Dialogic communication in 140 characters or less: How Fortune 500 companies engage stakeholders using Twitter’, Public Relations Review, vol. 36, iss. 4, pp. 336-341, retrieved 30 March 2012, Science Direct database.

Sommerfeldt, EJ, Kent, ML & Taylor, M 2012, ‘Activist practitioner perspectives of website public relations: Why aren’t activist websites fulfilling the dialogic promise?’, Public Relations Review, vol. 38, iss. 2, pp. 303-312, retrieved 30 March 2012, Science Direct database. 

Waters, RD & Jamal, JY 2011, ‘Tweet, tweet, tweet: A content analysis of nonprofit organizations’ Twitter updates’, Public Relations Review, vol. 37, iss. 3, pp. 321-324, retrieved 30 March 2012, Science Direct database.

Monday, May 14, 2012