On the same level with my job is our director of development, or professional beggar, who looks for funding from corporations, from individuals, writes grant proposals, and does that type of thing. One level below that would be the subscription director and office manager. Below that we have secretaries, receptionists, part-time help, and subscription help.
Well, I did an informal poll after I got here to see how the staff was structured, just out of curiosity. In some orchestras, the public relations and marketing functions are separate. In others, they lump them together. Whenever they are lumped together, there's usually one person assigned to the marketing and another assigned to the public relations.
Question - What key skills are necessary?
Answer - Communication is absolutely necessary, whether it is written, verbal, a presentation, one-on-one, in large groups, or just the staff working with the rest of the staff. No matter what the job description or the organization charts say, if you can't communicate with people, you are dead. This is the greatest weakness I've seen in people coming out for internships. Finally, supervisory capability is also necessary. This involves a little bit more than communication, it's trying to get people to do what you need them to do and making sure that they realize it was their idea first!
First of all, I think you need some knowledge of the arts form. If you want to go into orchestra work, I think that is very helpful. I think the trend in managers is to hire people who have this background. The other things are specific skills such as accounting. Knowledge of legal matters is a plus. There is more and more need for this type of knowledge.
Another important characteristic is a fairly strong technical background in terms of knowing a good advertising buy and knowing how to position yourself in the market, who you are going after, and the most effective way to find them. For example, advertising on TV is very effective for selling star attractions or attractions where there is instant gratification. Call a number, get a ticket, and go see it the next night. You have to know these things, or you can drop a fortune into the wrong thing. It's nearly impossible now for someone to come in with no background in advertising. Organizations can't afford to teach you an enormous amount of skills now. We run this whole show with about thirty people on the staff across the board.
I really didn't know much about marketing when I came here. I didn't know what was involved. My skills lent themselves well to administration in general, and my specific expertise, interest, and sensitivity to opera and music in general made the public relations job a good one for me. I really learned about the marketing job when I was doing that job. I really didn't come to this company with a driving desire to be in marketing.
Question - How much time do you spend during an average day, and how do you spend it?
Answer - First of all, I don't think there is any average day. Mainly that is because of dealing with an organization of artists who have a high level of creativity. There are always unexpected problems that come up. I would say the great majority of my time is spent assessing those conditions that aren't what I expected them to be, to determine why they are not what I expected them to be, and to come up with a message to correct them. I would say the largest portion of my time, and particularly with marketing moving into areas in the organization it has not moved in before, is spent planning and trying to troubleshoot.
Question - How many hours per week do I spend on the job?
Answer - No less than forty and usually more than that, depending on the time of the year: meetings, 20 percent; talking on the phone, 15 percent; planning, 15 percent (low estimate); actual work on things that have to be done, 30 percent; and office needs, 20 percent. I spend as much time in meetings as I do dealing with the people around me to make sure things run smoothly.
I would say an average week is no less than fifty hours, and during some seasons, sixty or more. When we're running, I'm here during the day and at the opera house at night. That's when I also do things on weekends, mainly to catch up. Of course, printing projects have to be done when they have to be done. I probably spend about 35 percent of my time on advertising and selling, maybe 25 percent working with the box office and ticketing, and 30 percent working with direct mail and putting together packages and brochures. The rest of the time, you name it. It all depends. Things shift. The percentages would be on a yearly basis, not a weekly basis. I can't emphasize enough how much things change with each season.