Photo: Jeanne Donovan
Name: Mary Anne Bodnar
Location: New York, NY
Job Title: Media & Communications Manager, Movement Research
How did you learn about marketing, informally and formally?
I fell into marketing through an internship placement at Movement Research (MR) in 2017. I had applied for a role with their publication Critical Correspondence, but during my interview was convinced to take on the role of Marketing Intern. My formal training came from my supervisors, then Managers José Rivera Jr. and Kat Galasso. They taught me the basics of email platforms, website backends, and social media schedules. I enjoyed the satisfaction of getting tasks done, but my progress was bolstered by how trusted I was by the Managers. They gifted me the responsibility of sending out our “Weekly” Sunday e-blasts to a listserv of 10,000 people. Enter my informal (yet robust) training: trial and error. While the emails were reviewed by all Managers at MR, I still felt responsible for any mistakes – and in the beginning I made a lot of them. Name misspellings, location errors, mis-linked photographs, etc. I was coming from a college dance program where occasional errors like this were inconsequential. At MR, not a single one went without notice. If I capitalized an intentionally all-lower-case name, I received multiple emails alerting me to this error. I was frustrated at how insulted the informants sounded, until I realized that caring for these details was the job. Anyone can paste text into an email, but effective marketing means maintaining a careful and protective eye on every detail of communication across all platforms, all the time. It means consistent yet creative clarity and care. In an effort to do well at my job, this level of attention to detail has become a small obsession. I take pride in how I review materials, but I also continue to trust this trial and error process as an ongoing informal training throughout my career.
What is your job title? How many hats do you wear? How many hours a week do you work on marketing?
My job title is Media & Communications Manager. I oversee two Associates, and we collectively oversee nine interns. We all work part-time, so maintaining clear and open conversations around our capacity is important. I usually work 23 hours/week, and most of that time is dedicated to planning, delegating and executing our marketing calendar. I additionally help administrate our two publications (Movement Research Performance Journal and Critical Correspondence), and coordinate all media and communications involved with events such as our seasonal Festivals and annual Gala. Teamwork is integral to the functioning of organizations like Movement Research, and I’m grateful to have a great group of co-workers and interns. My internship was an important portal for me as a dancer and worker, so I take the responsibility of mentoring and overseeing interns seriously. I’ve taken to frequently integrating check-ins about an intern’s experience into their weekly work sessions. It’s my goal that they aren’t just acquiring skills, but using our conversations as a platform for discussing and processing how arts nonprofits function.
How do you define "marketing?"
Marketing involves clearly and comprehensively educating audiences or consumers on how an experience or product could fit into and hopefully enhance their pursuits and goals. It creatively utilizes a variety of physical and digital channels to reach out to and communicate with consumers.
Marketing as a creative endeavor...
In my experience creativity thrives on (loose) structures. I commit to a certain amount of marketing support for each artist or event on our Calendar, and then I let my knowledge and intuition get to work shaping how it will unfold within those guidelines. I like to feel hyper-organized around a marketing plan, but I’ve learned to accept and quickly act when things aren’t so orderly. If requests or updates come in within days (or hours) of an event, I’ve learned to not dwell on how well I could’ve done if I had had enough time. Perhaps that’s just learning how to be a worker, but it’s worth mentioning since this flexibility has helped me feel like I’m a supporting member of a team.
It’s also helped me in my role to be clear about where I’m adhering to a self-imposed structure, and where I’m being creative. For example, I rarely paraphrase an artist’s class description in promotional materials, but I’ll regularly pull full-sentence direct quotes from it. The creativity is choosing which quotes to pull for specific posts or materials. It can seem limiting, but it’s one of the ways that I’ve used to clarify how my work is a vehicle for an artist’s work, rather than my interpretation of it.
On the topic of "social media:"
When I started in my role as Manager, I was so intimidated by social media that I built out a separate role for someone else to do it. I had an inferiority complex that other organizations’ social media presence was smarter, faster, and cooler than what I was planning to do, and I couldn’t visualize how to effectively and authentically serve artists through this platform. After about a year I took back this responsibility and tackled it the only way I knew how: be simple and also okay with being a bit uncool. I wasn’t going to let perfect be the enemy of good. And guess what? It all worked. I created timing and content structures for daily posts about classes and opportunities. They don’t creatively integrate the latest visual options on the platform, but they’re frequent, clear, and reliable. Our engagement numbers responded well to the formats, and it became clear that this specific use of social media, albeit a bit boring, was exactly what our artists needed to connect with our programming. Social media is a tool, and it helped me to evolve an understanding of why exactly we were using it.
With marketing, I want to learn more about...
I’m interested in learning how other marketing leaders successfully delegate to workers or interns who don’t (yet) have the institutional knowledge or background to support a detail-oriented marketing eye in the organization. I connected last Winter with marketing workers in large companies, and they cited this as a challenge in their environments, too. I’m curious if anyone has strategies for delegating in a way that workers feel invested, useful and successful at their contribution to a larger marketing picture, and also understand the consequentiality of getting those details right.