2017 Conference Management & Professional Development

#MPD7 – Culture Wins: Five Mistakes That Made Us Successful

For the Missouri State chorale, it was an unbelievable day.

Of course, it took a lot to get there. The team at Missouri State, including Kevin Agee and Sara Clark, put in hours of work over several months to make a four minute performance work at the Presidential Inauguration

Agee and Clark reflected on the day and what they would do differently if they could:

Adding a blog
Part of this mistake was because of information overload. The chorale didn’t know, and the surprise aspect didn’t give any lead time to the Missouri State team to think about where the growing stream of content could go. For Clark, making the blog (even though it was a little late) was the best way to share the information as it came in.

Working with the media
Clark explained they pitched the media early, because the media doesn’t always operate on our schedule. By creating a new version of a release after the initial announcement, Clark was able to share it out closer to the event and re-generate interest.

It was overwhelming!
Missouri State received over 375,000 impressions on social, from Twitter and Facebook. The chatter on the Missouri State hashtag and handles was flying so fast that the team couldn’t keep up, even with two members manning the social media fort.

The other overwhelming part of it all was the polarizing aspect of this election. There was a quick-shift to “crisis mode,” as the chorus made a promise to perform before the election was even held. The chatter turned into a dumpster fire on social media, with may audience members frustrated with the chorale’s presence at the ceremony. Missouri State President helped craft a message explaining this situation; that students were not required to go, and that a promise was made well in advance. To help amplify this message, the Missouri State team crafted a blog post about the lyrics of the song performed, Now We Belong: “Keep faith, keep watch. Take heart, take courage. Guard mind, guard spirit. Feed love, feed longing.” Clark explained that Missouri State repeated this message throughout the day. The comments weren’t all bad, of course. They came in on Facebook, Twitter, even email.

With the amount of attention, traffic took down and the blogs. The small number of staff members dedicated to this project was also too small, in Agee’s opinion, especially when the team was focused on the event and then had to switch gears to fix the website.

The team at Missouri State weren’t ready to sell the knit caps and tartan scarfs chorale members were wearing. In hindsight, Agee mentioned that he wished he had sale links ready to go, especially when this happened:

The team raced to get the apparel to Cordren, and despite their request in a letter written to him, the chorale has not appeared on The Late Late Show…yet.

Clark and Agee had five takeaways for the audience:

  • Take time to dream and see the big picture
  • Communicate among departments
  • Always be ready for crisis mode
  • Be patient with yourselves
  • Have faith – it will all work out in the end.

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By Jackie Vetrano

Jackie Vetrano is the assistant director of MBA prospect management & marketing at UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. She manages and implements the lead-nurture strategy using email as well as other important touchpoints to encourage prospective students to apply to the top-ranked MBA program. Outside of work, you’ll find Jackie participating in hot yoga, out on a run, or watching reality television. She also enjoys traveling, petting her cat, and spending time with her partner trying new foods and experiences.