July 30 marked the fifth anniversary of Engaging Matters. On the one hand, it seems like yesterday that this journey began; on the other, it feels like it’s been going on forever. I can barely remember what it was like not to think about the blog potential of virtually every single thing I do. (Some of you may remember posts about minor league baseball games I attended!) I began posting twice a week, but after a couple of years exhaustion led me to one per week. The end result is that there have been over 325 posts to this blog, most written by me but a number penned by guest bloggers. What I plan to do during the month of August is repost some of the most read articles and share links to others. Some, even many, may be new to those who have stumbled across this blog in the last year or two; others may be read in different contexts with the passage of time. Regardless, I hope there may be something worthwhile for you in these blasts from the past.
This week’s highlights deal with definitions. Unsurprisingly, these posts have been some of the most read on this blog. We are all struggling with what “engagement” means and how it relates to efforts of which we have better understanding. The most read is Audience Development “vs.” Community Engagement (originally published in May of 2012 and presented below). Other widely read articles addressing the meaning of related terminology include:
Outreach ≠ Community Engagement
Outreach and Audience Engagement
Audience Engagement-Community Engagement
New Thought on Audience and Community Engagement
Audience Development “vs.” Community Engagement
(from May 2012)
Earlier (in Engagement Is) I introduced a chart I ran across last month at the American Association of Museums conference, prepared by Candace Tangorra Matelic, highlighting what engagement is and is not. I also promised a follow-up to that introducing Dr. Matelic’s analysis of the differences between Audience Development and Community Engagement. (I should point out that her work is geared very specifically toward museums.)
My post (One Way) on Michael Kaiser’s discussion of “audience engagement” garnered enough interest (and a little heat) to make this worthwhile. While some of Dr. Matelic’s language is a bit stronger–the left-hand column is a little too dismissive–than I would adopt in making the distinctions (I *do* understand the merits of audience development), her perspective is advocacy for robust engagement. Like her, I would prefer we not get stuck in the first door as there is so much of merit (though it will be long-term rather than immediate) to be found if we walk through it to pursue deeper relationships.
Audience Development Community Engagement Short term marketing strategy to increase the number of people who visit your organization: builds and broadens your audience, which can turn into support for your organization Long term strategy organizational development to build community ownership, participation, relationships, and support for your organization: builds a better community, which in turn, builds your audience and position of importance in the community Looks at who is and who is not coming and why or why not; identifies potential audiences for marketing existing museum services Looks at what matters to the community and how your organization is or is not responding; identifies how existing museum services are relevant or could become more relevant Focus on increasing visitation numbers from existing and new groups, and building membership numbers, the relationship with community remains the same as it is currently Focus on developing relationships and increasing partnerships and collaborations with a variety of community groups, benefiting all participating partners Internally focused approach: how can the community serve us and our needs (this approach potentially closes doors as it does not address what other organizations need—it is all about your organization) Externally focused approach: how can we serve the community’s needs, working with others (this approach opens doors as it is a shared goal with other community organizations—it is about what we all need) Involves education, marketing and development staff members Involves all stakeholders, including staff, trustees and volunteers A consultant can complete the bulk of the work, working on your behalf, conducting interviews in the community and facilitating focus groups and then summarizing salient points (a consultant goes to the community and reports back to you) A consultant can facilitate and guide the initial conversations and summarize the collective input from community participants, but your staff needs to be actively involved to make it work (a consultant helps to bring the community to you for collective dialogue) Organizational identity, goals and priorities remain essentially the same, as does the organization’s current reputation, public service, value and standing in the community Organizational identity, goals and priorities could be fundamentally transformed in response to community input and ideas, substantially increasing reputation, public service, value and standing in the community A more conservative approach, with more predictable and focused outcomes, if completed thoughtfully, impacting a limited portion of the organization A more risky approach, but if completed with sincerity and honesty, outcomes can far exceed initial expectations, impact all aspects of the operation and last longer
Developed by Candace Tangorra Matelic, CTM Professional Services. Source:
Comparing Audience Development and Community Engagement
- Photo: Some rights reserved by torbakhopper