The Art of the Business

A blog dedicated to artists who are serious about their business.

What’s your perception worth? July 10, 2009

Filed under: Perception of worth — Rebecca Coleman @ 6:34 am

I am somewhat embarrassed to say  that I went to McDonald’s the other day. It was one of those extenuating circumstances: I was starving, on the road, and they are pretty much as prevalent as Starbucks.

I thought I’d make a healthy choice and have a salad. Unless you’ve been under a rock for the past couple of years, you’ll notice that McDonald’s advertising has changed recently. In an attempt to manage the backlash against fatty, unhealthy foods, they have changed their advertising. Their commercials often focus on healthy lifestyle choices, a great example of which is their latest campaign to promote their new line of salads.

But I started to wonder, as I sat there, eating my salad, how many people come in to McDonald’s for a salad? I did a quick survey of the restaurant. As far as I could tell, I was the only person eating salad. A couple of older people were there for coffee and a muffin, but about 95% of the people there were eating burgers and fries.

It got me thinking: if you asked some random person on the street if McDonald’s serves healthy food, they would more than likely say yes. If you asked that same person when the last time was that they had a salad at a fast food restaurant, it would likely have been a long time ago.

We go to McDonald’s for a Big Mac. We don’t go there for salad. But what McDonald’s has done is shift our perception from thinking that they are a bad guy. Whether or not they are selling the salads doesn’t matter. What matters is that we no longer think of them as this huge, ugly corporation that is making our entire nation fat and sick (remember Supersize Me?).

Perception is valuable. How do people perceive you?

Just to be clear, I’m not advocating that you work on your hype and not follow through. I don’t like that McDonald’s has millions and millions of dollars to spend on slick advertising campaigns that appear to be able to change their public perception. What I am saying is, do some research and see if you can find out how people perceive you. Hopefully other people’s perception of you will be positive, and all you have to do is follow through to maintain that. But if it’s not 100% positive, think about how you can change that perception.

And then follow through.

Finally, in a bid to put my money where my mouth is, I’d like to invite you to share your perception of me in the comments section below. The good, the bad, and the ugly. I’m always interested in hearing ways I can improve.

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Old school versus new media July 8, 2009

It keeps coming up. At the Arts Summit a couple of weeks ago. At a workshop I was giving on the weekend. In a committee of the GVPTA that I am involved with.

The world is changing. Are we going to choose to react and adapt, or should we try to take the bull by the horns and make it adapt to us?

I’m referring to the old guard. I was giving a workshop on publicity on the weekend, and one of the participants, who was there to learn about how to promote his theatre company using new media, said that one of his greatest challenges was convincing the board of directors and people who ran the company that new media was the way to go. They have been doing things for so long (“just spend $600 and buy newspaper ads”) a certain way, that they don’t even realize it’s not working any more.

Guess what? It’s not working any more.

The return on your investment of buying an ad in a newspaper is exceedingly low. Even publicity is getting harder and harder to book. In the past year, we have gone, in Vancouver, from having 6 theatre reviewers at newspapers, to, at one point this year, 3. Paul Grant, a 30-year vetran of CBC radio, and a tireless arts reporter, is taking a retirement package at the end of this summer, and his position will not be replaced. Space for the arts is shrinking in the traditional media at an alarming rate.

And, while I think that adapting to this new situation is certainly required, I don’t think that it is the full answer. Yes, we need to educate ourselves and our boards of directors about new media, and yes, we need to pitch our shows to bloggers (or start our own!), and participate in social networking. But, as Simon says, you can’t just graft old media techniques onto the new media.

What we really need to do is to take matters into our own hands and create our own media outlet for the Vancouver arts scene. Yes, I realize that this is a huge task. But I feel like there is a big hole out there, and it needs to be filled. We need a website that is the default go-to site for the Vancouver arts community. And it has to be good–with high quality editorial standards.

I’m not exactly sure how to make this happen, as I’m only one person, and to create something like this is going to take time and resources that are beyond me. But I’m talking to some people right now, and there is power in creating a community of like-minded individuals.

I will certainly keep you in the loop.

Read more about this topic over at the Alliance for Arts and Culture’s blog.

Read Are We Losing the Mainstream Media?

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Social Media updates July 6, 2009

Three new things have happened in the last couple of weeks that make life just a little bit easier for those of us that love and use social media.

Flickr to Twitter

Twitterberry doesn’t work for photos on my Blackberry, because it takes too long to upload the photos, which are too big (I could change my camera settings to a lower DPI, but I don’t want to), so what I do is upload the photo to Flickr, then copy the address, then paste it into Twitter. A long and circuitous route to get a photo on Twitter “instantly”.

Now, Flickr has integrated the ability to Twitter directly from Flickr. You upload your photos to Flickr, then click on the photo you want to Tweet. Click on the “blog this” button, and, after the first time where you have to authorize it and set it up, it will post your photos directly to Twitter. I even have my own email address, now, where, if I take a photo on my mobile phone, I can email it directly to  Flickr. A handy little app for those that like to use Flickr.

Read about it on Mashable.

Vanity URLs for Fan Pages on Facebook:

A few weeks back, Facebook allowed us to create vanity URLs for our personal profiles (ie: instead of the gobbledy-gook 400-character one before). Now, you can also create vanity URLs for your fan pages.

For me, this is just one more reason why I am now encouraging folks to create fan pages for thier business, instead of a group. You need to have more than 25 fans to get your shortened URL, however, so get cracking! To get your vanity URL for your personal profile or your fan page, go to:


Facebook just added another reason to like Fan pages. You can now create a widget for your website or blog that promotes your Facebook Fan page. All you do is click on the “Add Fan box to your site” link in the menu directly beneath your icon/avatar on your Facebook fan page, and it will take you through the steps to create a widget for your page.

FB widget

Have a great week! Hope these tips make your ability to use social media to promote your business just a wee bit easier!


I.R.L. July 3, 2009

Filed under: Business relationships,Life,Networking — Rebecca Coleman @ 6:35 am
Tags: ,

I’m self-employed, and I work from home. Sometimes the only other beings I see for days are my cats.19-06-08_1631

When I lost my job in July of 2007 and decided to go into business for myself, the thing I realized missed the most about working in the office was talking to my co-workers. Going for coffee, lunch, or just talking about something we’d seen on TV the night before.

I love being self-employed. But it can be very quiet and lonely, especially for someone who consistently scores as an extrovert on the Meyers-Briggs.

I love online social networking because it ends up being like taking a break and chatting with my co-workers. But there’s nothing that can really replace hanging out with people I.R.L. (in real life), and I sometimes forget that.

I have a small business support group that I meet with once every two weeks, and I am always amazed at how much energy I take away from that meeting. Online social networking is great, but we also need to be around real people.

A lot of  online social networking has been leading to real-life meetups: a group of people who have met online via Twitter will get together at a bar or a coffee shop to meet and talk and, yes, Twitter.

If you’re feeling stuck at home without human contact, go to, do a search for something that interests you, and see if you can find a group of people meeting I.R.L. that you can connect with.

I know, it sounds crazy, but you just might like it. 😉

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Failing in an upwards direction July 1, 2009

Filed under: Attitude,Success — Rebecca Coleman @ 6:29 am
Tags: ,

I’ve been thinking about failure a lot lately.

Falling up stairs?

Falling up stairs?

Yes, yes, before all of you positive thinkers jump all over me with your law of attraction stuff, just hear me out.

I’m a fairly-well educated, reasonably intelligent person. However, at this point in my life, it’s tricky for me to learn in a formal way (like attending classes). That leaves me a couple of methods for learning new things: books, the internet, and failure.

At any given time, I’m usually reading a couple of books. I really got a lot out of The Four Hour Workweek, and I’m halfway through The E-Myth. Next will probably be Nichecraft.

The problem with books, is, they take a while to write and get published. And by the time they are published, things could have changed, especially in this crazily-fast-paced internet world. So, a great deal of my learning takes place these days online. E-books, e-courses, and a Google Reader full of great RSS feeds like CopyBlogger, TwitTips, and IttyBiz.

That leaves failure.

If you’re willing, failure can be your greatest teacher. Okay, so you screwed up. Intentionally or not, what went wrong? How can you change it so that it doesn’t happen the next time? Maybe that won’t work, either, but keep trying until you get it right.

This guy, Albert Einstien (famous for his hairstyle),  once defined insanity as: “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” I understand he may have known something about failure. And success. And most importantly, success through failure.

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