By Shayne Austin Miller,
Interim Director of Marketing and Sales, Director of Press and PR, Paper Mill Playhouse
A JerseyArts.com People’s Choice Award may not make you rich if you sell it on eBay, but winning the award is a lot more than a fun trip to Atlantic City with your peers.
In 2008, Discover Jersey Arts, a cosponsored project of the ArtPride New Jersey Foundation and New Jersey State Council on the Arts, found a way to give the public a voice in determining the most popular arts institutions in New Jersey: the Annual JerseyArts.com People’s Choice Awards. Over the past nine years, the popularity of the program has grown along with the number of participating organizations and number of voters. The categories range from favorite theater and performing arts center, to museum and gallery, to symphony and dance company, along with many more — there are 16 in all.
More than 100 nonprofit arts groups and arts districts were nominated for the 2016 Awards by members of the arts community. From the nominations, the public chose their favorites in the 16 categories, with more than 21,000 ballots cast for arts organizations statewide. The awards, which take place annually to honor the work of New Jersey’s vital, vibrant and diverse arts community, saw the greatest number of voters since its inception in 2008.
What can a JerseyArts.com People’s Choice Award do for an arts organization?
Many arts groups throughout the state use a JerseyArts.com People’s Choice Award to market to current and potential audiences. Advertising that your organization is New Jersey’s favorite gives value to your organization and makes your audience feel proud to be connected to your institution.
A few savvy arts organizations have found creative ways to include their nomination or near win in marketing materials. One South Jersey arts group claimed they were the most popular in South Jersey, as they received the most votes in their region. Other arts groups simply advertise that they were nominated for the award.
Press and Public Relations
A nomination for a JerseyArts.com People’s Choice Award is a great opportunity for positive PR about an arts institution. It is tremendous to be able to communicate with your patrons and stakeholders with positive, engaging news that is not a sales pitch. The more an organization involves their consumer with non-sales messaging, the more engaged that consumer will become with their institution.
Local press love stories that get members of their community excited about what the area has to offer. Even one nomination can create momentum in an arts organization’s geographical community to “get out the vote.” Who doesn’t want to have the state’s most popular institution in their backyard?
Arts organizations are always searching for fresh, current and relevant content for their social media channels. Some of the top engagement tools on multiple social media platforms are surveys and quizzes. People love to give their opinion. People want to feel like something they do will have an impact. “Support Local” trends several times each year. Encouraging your online audience to vote for an arts institution is hitting all of these points. With a few clicks, a supporter can vote for you and show their proof of confidence in your work.
Fundraising is a key component for every nonprofit arts organization. Each accolade an arts organization collects looks good to a funder. A JerseyArts.com People’s Choice Award is especially valuable as donors want to support success. Corporate donors want to see return on their marketing investment and fund the most popular and mission-driven organizations. The confidence your own audience has in your institution is a great measure of your success.
A Seat at the Table, A Voice in the Room
Recipients of a JerseyArts.com People’s Choice Award formally receive their awards in a ceremony at The Governor’s Conference on Tourism in Atlantic City each March. The JerseyArts.com People’s Choice Awards have given New Jersey’s nonprofit arts organizations a powerful voice within this important industry. Not only do you get to mingle with your arts peers at this event, but some of the biggest names in tourism attend this conference where Jersey Arts are front and center.
A Great Reward from the People You Serve
Finally, nonprofit arts organizations all have a mission of serving their communities and the patrons who attend. There is no greater recognition than receiving the stamp of approval from these very people. A JerseyArts.com People’s Choice Award is acknowledgement from your community and those you serve.
Shayne Austin Miller has served as Director of Press and Public Relations at Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn for the last 12 years where he currently serves as Interim Director of Marketing and Communications. At Paper Mill, Shayne created and directs the award-winning Paper Mill Playhouse Broadway Show Choir. Shayne works as Minister of Music at Saint Andrew’s Episcopal Church in New Providence. He served two terms as President of the Millburn-Short Hills Chamber of Commerce and currently serves as Vice President of the Downtown Millburn Development Alliance. Shayne chairs the PR committee of the state’s Discover Jersey Arts initiative. With a degree in Theater and Communications from Kean University, Shayne’s first arts job was at NJPAC in Newark as their publicist.