Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Art Society Blog #3 - Recruit a Blog Editor

This is the third in a SERIES of posts about art blogs for Art Societies and Art Groups.  

Today we're going to look at the person in charge of the Art Society Blog - the "Blogmaster" - or "Blog Editor" as I prefer to call the role.

If you've read Art Society Blogs #1 - Why blog?  and Art Society Blog #2 - Getting started, here are some suggestions for what an Art Society needs to do next if it wants to have an Art Society Blog.

A blog is not something which can be run by Committee. What it needs is
  • a clear set of guidelines as to what it's about and what sort of content it should contain.  This can be outlined by the Committee.
  • the right person to run it - who needs to be recruited and then left to get on with it.  It's called 'the art of delegation'! (See notes and links at the end if your Committee needs a reminder!)
The ROI Art Event Evening run by the ROI at their Annual Exhibition
was the subject of a blog post on the ROI Blog - the Making A Mark Art Blog of the Year 2012
What sort of "blog content" are we talking about?

This is the scope of the content which the person who develops and controls the blog will, as a rule, look after:
  • The overall look of the blog ie its design and presentation.  What the blog looks like and how it behaves speaks volumes about the values and priorities of the art society.  For example:
    • does it place an emphasis on including images of artwork by its members?  
    • OR does the blogmaster prefer writing about his friends to creating web-ready images for every blog post?
    • does the design reflect the work of the art society, its branding 'look' and does it display artwork to best effect?
  • Titles for blog posts - very important - and the person who writes the blog needs to know why!
  • Content of blog posts e.g.
    • Announcements about art classes, demonstrations, workshops, outings
    • Updates on art exhibitions - calls for artists, selected artists, updates of what the exhibition looks like, prizewinners, reports on performance review 
    • Profiles of artist members
    • Announcements about the activities of members, exhibitions, open studios etc
    • Announcements about related art competitions or open exhibitions of interest to members of the society
  • Moderation of comments on blog posts.  This is the class monitor part of the job. If you leave comments unmoderated the blog will be spammed incessantly - which gives a very poor impression.  The standard for any organisation's blog should be zero tolerance for spam.  You therefore need to review and manually publish all comments received.  It's not a big deal nor does it take a long time and I'll explain why in a later post.
  • Generating responses to comments on blog posts - there's no requirement to respond but it does help if you acknowledge and respond to any comments received.  This helps it become a dynamic conversation.
  • Generating responses to queries from the right Committee person.  People ask questions and the Blogmaster finds out the answer if they don't already know it.  This is the Customer Service element of the role
  • the blog statistics - periodic reports back to Committee on traffic (ie the number of people visiting the blog and what they;re interested in).  This can be done after the necessary code has been installed in the right place!  This is not difficult to produce and is a job which could be done by a more numerically minded member of the Society.
  • Updating the blog's links eg for links to a new member's blog (assuming the website has links to the members' websites).  This comes under active promotion of the members - in return for their normal annual subscription!
I'm thinking of writing a job description for a Blog Editor.  Does anybody else think any other task should be included?

What is a BlogMaster / Blog Editor?

The BlogMaster is the person who runs the blog on a day to day basis.  A different term - Blog Editor - is probably preferable.

"Editor" is a very good shorthand term for a concept of what the Blogmaster does This is because the job is much more about blog content - generated by the Editor - and not a lot to do with the technical aspects of how it gets published.  That said, anything involving software requires a certain amount of technical 'nous'!
  • What it's not:  It's NOT the same job as the Webmaster who looks after the website - although there are some tasks which are similar.  It initially developed a similar name as there was an existing role which people initially thought might well be similar - because they thought it involved "techie stuff" and needed a techie person.
  • What it's more like:  Realistically, the role of the BlogMaster or Blog Editor is much more like the job of the person who runs the Newsletter for the Art Society.  The reason being it's a creative role which is about reporting news - and has a strong streak of editorial control running through it.
Recruiting the right person

The good news? If you select the right person for the job then a blog will not present an art society with any problems and should enhance the standing and profile of the society.

Blogging: Appoint one person to maintain the blog, create the content and moderate

Initially, while the blog is getting off the ground it's a good idea to have just one person in control.

As it develops, more people can get involved in contributing content and exercising control.  I'll cover how this works in a later post about a Group Blog.

Below are some suggestions as to the skills and competences required if the Blog Editor is to do a good job.

Blogging news about the Society: Make sure they have the right skills and competences

DO look for somebody who has previous experience of blogging or newsletter production - and look at the way they have developed and maintained their own blog and/or the newsletters they have produced.

DO NOT assume a webmaster or anybody who has previously looked after a website will know how to make the most of a blog.  They probably don't.

The good news is that while some limited technical 'nous' is required, most of the technical aspects are automated and, if you use something like Blogger, most of this is taken care of by the blogging software "under the hood".  Hence the need for the techie element and techie skills is much reduced.

My basic line with art societies is a person can handle WYSIWYG and the type of template formatting used by Microsoft Word then you can probably look after a blog and make it look good.

Put simply
  • Techie types who may well be good at website maintenance aren't always good at marketing and selling the society - and chivvying people for content!
  • Those who are good at marketing and PR and writing/running newsletters may lack the detailed technical skills to do with running a website - but might very well cope with running a blog.
What are the differences in the two roles?

I've attempted a summary of the differences between a webmaster and blog editor below.

SiteWebmasterBlog Editor
WebsiteThe webmaster looks after what is an essentially STATIC site which changes very little - apart from around the time of the annual exhibitionn/a
Blogn/aThe blogmaster looks after a DYNAMIC site which should change on a regular basis. Every edition is different!
Technical Skills
Very often essential and critical
Deals with ISP, domain, server and bandwidth issues - and attacks which can take a site down.
Much Less important
ISP / server / bandwidth / attack issues can be minimal / non-existent if basic security practices observed
DesignCritical to branding - needs to be consistent with blogCritical to branding - needs to be consistent with website
Technical Skills
Likely to involve coding (html or other code language)WYSIWYG based.  Unlikely to involve coding.  May involve minimal insertion of code into template (once) for stats.
AudienceExternalExternal / Internal
MarketingKey site for marketing and promotion of the societyKey site for marketing and promotion of the society to its members and their fans.
Marketing Skills
Less important re maintenance of website (particularly after initial branding and content settled)Critical importance - as content/images are written / generated by the Blog Editor
ContentContent usually provided by other people to timetables agreed by Committee (eg re annual exhibition update)Content usually generated by the Blog Editor (who should also provide guidance to other contributors in terms of style and number of words and number of images)
Writing Skills
Dependent on whether content generated by webmaster or other peopleCritical as the editorial style of the blog is guided by the Blog Editor
Image 
Generation 
Skills
Essential - able to resize/produce web ready images from images supplied  and present them well
Generates image content re exhibition
Essential - able to resize/produce web ready images from images supplied and present them well
Generates images for all non-exhibition content Design and Layout skills re words and text are employed on a regular / frequent basis - as per the Newsletter Editor.



NOTE:  The Art of Delegation - here's a couple of short articles for those in need of a reminder....

Links:



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