Let’s Get Real Phase 3: Is your content fit for purpose?
An outline plan for a collaborative action research project
Culture24 is working with a brilliant group of 32 arts and heritage organisations who have all signed up to Let’s Get Real Phase 3. The project takes place over ten months starting in March 2014.
Who has signed up?
1. The Lowry
2. Tricycle Theatre
3. National Galleries of Scotland
4. Historic Royal Palaces
5. Pilot Theatre
6. Victoria and Albert Museum
8. Royal Shakespeare Company
9. Public Catalogue Foundation
10. Horniman Museum and Gardens
11. Kent County Council
12. Museum of London
13. Royal Pavilion and Museums, Brighton & Hove
14. Partnership made up of Hampshire County Council / Winchester City Council / Southampton City Council
15. Amgueddfa Cymru — National Museum Wales
16. National Museums Scotland
17. People’s History Museum
18. Yorkshire Sculpture Park
19. Leicestershire County Council
20. British Museum
21. Manchester International Festival
22. Design Museum
24. B3 media
25. Southbank Centre
26. Wales Millennium Centre
27. The Photographers’ Gallery
28. Creative Scotland
29. Bristol Museum and Art Gallery
30. The Fitzwilliam
31. Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums
32. Live at LICA
What is it about?
Every cultural organisation wants to harness digital tactics to make use of their most valuable asset: content. But this content’s real value is only realised when it can reach and meaningfully engage audiences both online and in physical spaces. Combined with the human resources of staff and volunteers, cultural content can be the start of conversations, tell many different stories or be a signpost on a personal journey.
Using digital channels can make this happen but only if our content is fit for purpose.
This means thinking of digital channels not as a range of generic publishing or marketing outlets, but as routes to a distributed network of communities with niche interests and needs. Our content and our data need to match the screen size, platform and interface – not just technically but editorially.
As content creators we need to be ready to respond to different user behaviours and demands. We need to respond as much to demand, as to our own ability to supply. This means thinking more deeply about the presentation of content, the words we use, and the style it is written in, the quality, rigour, authority; the tone of voice, humour and humanity; the scalability, interactivity and portability; the hidden data, formats and optimisation. All of this and more needs to be considered to ensure our content is fit for purpose.
Phase 3 of Culture24’s Let’s Get Real action research project will focus on the key question – Is your content fit for purpose? We will interrogate this idea within the research framework through collaborative experiments with each project partner. These will explore and measure ways content can be presented online to meet the needs of audiences.
The research will address two different specific purposes that are common to the cultural sector. Those signing up will need to choose the one that best fits their own objectives. They are:
- The purpose of presentation collections content online, or
- The purpose of promoting events, performances or exhibitions
The group will split into two groups (running simultaneously) to consider specifically each of the two purposes outlined. Both groups will also come together and work as a whole for parts of the research where we are looking at shared issues. The end result will be in depth learning tailored to each partner’s individual needs.
How the project works
The project will begin in spring 2014 and Culture24 will guide partners through a process of definition, measurement, analysis and reporting. Project partners will participate in four collaborative workshops over approximately 10 months. It is vital that partners attend all of these in order to get the best value from the project.
Culture24 will bring in a range of experts, tools and methodologies to inform the research process. In between each workshop there will be mandatory homework tasks for each project partner that will support the research and deliver specific value for each partner.
The project is funded collaboratively by the participating organisations, who each contribute £2,800 plus VAT.
Included in this fee are:
- All aspects of the research including data gathering and analysis
- Cost of bringing in any external experts
- Cost of any central services or technologies that are adopted for the research
- Co-ordination of the group’s shared communication channel through Basecamp
- Hosting of the four workshops, including lunch and refreshments
- Analysis and sharing of insights and data from the research
- The writing and production of a final project report for publication and advocacy
- Management of the project.
What is not included:
- The cost of any travel and accommodation to the workshops by each participating organisation
- The cost of any technical changes needed to your own digital systems
- The cost of your staff time.
Each participating organisation must put forward one member of staff to act as the liaison point for the research. These nominated individuals should be directly involved in the delivery of the organisation’s digital offer either at an implementation or strategic level, preferably both. Ideally they will have responsibility for any other digital staff, freelancers or technical contractors. This will ensure that they are able to grant access to analytics data and implement any necessary changes as a result of the project.
The estimated time commitment for each project partner is approximately 8 days, which incorporates attendance at the workshops, individual homework and analysis time (supported by Culture24).
Culture24’s role is to lead and coordinate the project and we will identify and bring in experts as necessary to support all stages of the project delivery. The lead contacts at Culture24 will be Jane Finnis and Sejul Malde who will facilitate the workshops and manage the project.
Culture24 brings expertise in project management, research and evaluation techniques to the project. Crucially we also bring our experience of analysis and strategic thinking that was critical in the production of the first two Let’s Get Real reports.
Culture24 will oversee all of the research and liaise with any external partners or contractors. We will carry out the analysis of the project and will write, edit and produce the final report overseeing its production and distribution across the sector.
Others who may be involved in the project in some way include:
- Seb Chan, Director of Digital & Emerging Media, Smithsonian, Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum
- Mia Ridge, Doctoral Researcher, freelance cultural heritage technologist
- Abhay Adhikari, digital engagement specialist
- Lana Gibson, user data-analysis expert, GOV.UK
- Matt Locke, Storythings
- Rob Stein, Deputy Director, Dallas Museum of Art
The project will retain its established link with the University of Leicester and their PhD programme and will also explore ways to continue to work with both Google and Hitwise, (previous project supporters) to ensure useful external reference points. It will also feed into thinking and approach used in Culture24’s work with The Audience Agency as part of their Arts Council England-funded Audience Focus work.
What you will gain by participating?
- Being part of a lively and engaged peer network with a shared sense of purpose. The network will act as a source of community, knowledge and support. It will also provide a space to benchmark, compare and contrast data.
- An understanding of ways to assess how fit for purpose you content is and how to improve that, both strategically and practically.
- Deeper insights into the use of Google Analytics for web reporting and how to set up your accounts in accordance with current best practice. This will help provide consistency in the configuration of accounts for reporting and can help to form the basis for a set of recommendations for reporting within the sector.
- An understanding of the relationship between the data available from analysis and tracking of web statistics and social media channels and its potential to help meet and fulfil specific key performance indicators.
- Time to reflect on your wider organisational goals and the role that digital activities can play in fulfilling these (or not). This could include looking honestly at both success and failures internally and the allocation of budget spend and resources in this area.
- Gaining insights in how to segment and separate different user behaviours, intentions and engagement, as well as defining targeted reporting for use by different staff members.
The project will take place over a period of approximately ten months and will be framed by the four workshops and any additional time needed for data collection and analysis. The rough schedule will be:
- November 2013: Call for participants is announced 18th November 2013
- January 2014: Sign up complete 13th January 2014
- March 2014: workshop one, detailed scope and priorities
- March to May 2014: first research period
- May 2014: workshop two
- May to July 2014: second research period
- July 2014: workshop three
- July to October 2014: analysis period
September 2014 Let’s Get Real Conference
- October 2014: workshop four, project conclusion
The writing & production of the final Phase 3 report will take place between November and December 2014 with publication in January 2015.
This is the third phase of Culture24’s unique and collaborative Let’s Get Real action research project. The final reports from phases 1 and 2 have been downloaded over 12,000 times internationally and have resulted in spin-off projects, conference papers, collaborations and new thinking. The frankness of both reports and their openness in speaking about the failure in the cultural sector to really capture the attention and engagement of online audiences has been met with a very positive reaction.