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Connecting people through music

A Case Study

Our goal

Support the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra’s performance, education, and fundraising efforts through ongoing media and public relations.

About the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra

Since its founding in 1930, the ISO has presented a range of classical, pop, family, and holiday programming to hundreds of thousands of people each year. As one of the leading orchestras in the nation, it has received national and regional acclaim for its commitment to artistic excellence, diverse and creative programming, and community engagement and education.

The Key Observation

There are very few arts beat reporters anymore. For the ones that remain, there are seemingly endless options of concerts, lectures, plays, and performances to cover. That translates into fewer earned media opportunities for arts organizations, even one that’s among the largest in the state.

Going beyond media relations

Instead of relying on the media to share their news, we recommended the ISO create their own content crew. Then we asked: “What do you want to achieve by sharing your stories?”

Sometimes the answer was to sell tickets. Sometimes it was to raise awareness of an educational program. Or highlight why individuals donate in order to encourage others to give. Other times it was to engage patrons in a whole new way. Once we agreed on a goal, we could support it with the right public relations strategy; from direct communications and video to social media and special events.

An Example

The Learning Community team took this new role to heart. When it came time to announce the Metropolitan Youth Orchestra’s 20th Anniversary season, we didn’t just issue a news release as in years past. Instead, we:


Our relationship with the ISO lasted more than three years and resulted in thousands of media and social media wins. Here is a six-month snapshot from the summer of 2016:

  • Placed 1,000+ media stories and concert listings
  • Reached millions of classical music lovers
  • Created the first #selfiesontheprairie Twitter contest
  • Earned more than $870,000 in ad value equivalency
  • Developed a behind-the-scenes video series for IPL Yuletide Celebration
  • Brokered interviews with guest artists from George Takei and Ben Folds to Evelyn Glennie and Yo-Yo Ma

The Bottom Line

While some organizations keep agencies at arm’s length, the ISO welcomed us to the table—literally. We sat in on staff meetings, attended concerts, had backstage access, and spoke with staff across departments. This level of trust helped us align communications with the ISO’s strategic plan—and helped more people connect to the music.

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