Client Spotlight - Natacha McLeod Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
When we began working with the Grammy Award winning Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (ASO), based in one of America’s most culturally rich southern cities, we knew we had created a fruitful partnership.
Aside from each of us having our own personal appreciation for the arts, as a company we were excited to expand our portfolio of organizations in the arts and culture arena. From Montforthaus Feldkirch in Feldkirch, Austria, to the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra in Atlanta, Georgia, it’s such a joy knowing that our software is impacting these civically, globally, and artistically minded powerhouses execute their media plans more effectively.
Natacha McLeod, Director of Marketing for the ASO, is a seasoned marketing exec who lends a fresh perspective to an industry often regarded for its tradition and conventionality. She’s someone who pursues dynamism and creative communication as much as she values artistic heritage. For this reason, it was an absolute no-brainer to interview Natacha for our Client Spotlight series.
We sat down with Natacha to discuss her tenure with the ASO (this is her second stint with the Orchestra!), how she sees the marketing and media landscape shifting for her industry, and why Mediatool has been her preferred media management tool.
MT: Natacha, thanks for taking the time today! We’d love to get our readers a bit more familiarized with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. Care to describe its function for us?
NM: Absolutely! The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra was founded in 1945 as a collective of fabulously talented musicians from a variety of backgrounds whose passion for classical music brought them to play in Atlanta, Georgia. We perform over 300 times a year in and around Atlanta. Namely at the Atlanta Symphony Hall, the Ameris Bank Amphitheatre, and Cadence Bank Amphitheatre at Chastain Park. Much like any orchestra, ours is founded on the principle that individuals are intrinsically drawn to music and the arts. As a branch of the Woodruff Arts Center - which focuses on offering the Atlanta community many mediums of artistic expression via its High Museum of Art and Alliance Theater - we are thrilled to be its musical arm. And so long as humans are moved by sound, inspired by melody, and invested in expanding their scope of what they consider beautiful, we will be here to humbly offer our melodic point of view!
MT: That’s fantastic and we can’t express just how much we appreciate the arts. It’s wonderful to have organizations like yours to nurture creative talent. We’d love to hear a bit more about your background, personally. How exactly did you find yourself as the Director of Marketing for a city orchestra?
NM: I’ve actually been in the live events industry since 2008. After a near 2-year stint with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra as their Marketing Manager in 2014 and 2015, I moved south to St. Petersburg, Florida where I pursued an opportunity with the Women’s Tennis Association. While I enjoyed my time with the WTA, I was operating in more of a sales and less of a marketing capacity. Ultimately, I couldn’t shake the feeling that consumer-focused marketing, Atlanta, and music were where my heart was. So, after a year and a half I moved back to Atlanta and resumed work with the ASO where I’ve happily been since early 2017.
MT: That definitely says a lot about both your passion and the ASO itself. As an organization celebrating its 75th anniversary, do you find it challenging to cater the ASO to a diverse public?
NM: You know, it’s an interesting position to be in. There’s obviously a lot of history with the ASO and so much tradition. At the end of the day, we know our product and we know our core base. Many of our members are of an older generation born in the 40s, 50s and 60s who are devotees of classical music. But then there’s this really vibrant, culturally curious group of millennials and Gen Z’ers who are finding expression through art as well. They’re coming to our performances and while they appreciate classical, they expect contemporary as well. Ultimately, we consider Atlanta our mirror and we’re continually striving to reflect the diversity that exists here. Just as our programs support that, so do our marketing efforts. That’s what’s been most stimulating and most challenging but we’re embracing it!
MT: What a wonderful lesson in brand evolution. Staying true to your original audience while making yourself accessible to a new generation as well. That’s what it’s all about. So, what are some of the mediums the ASO uses to share its messaging?
NM: You know, we’re pretty well-represented across mediums to be honest! About 50% of our marketing spend is dedicated to radio with another 25% going toward digital and social media and the remaining spread across direct mail, newspapers, billboards, magazines and other print efforts.
MT: …and naturally, the message changes depending on medium, yes?
NM: Yes and no. The core of the message must stay the same but how it’s delivered depends greatly on who will be receiving that message. Typically we generate two sets of creative based on our target audiences. As mentioned, we have our more traditional demographic to cater to along with a younger one as well. Our creative reflects that fully. You can expect our digital and social ad creative to be more modern and edgy while our print will be clean, simple, and traditional. Ultimately, we’re directing people to the same performance but what gets them excited to attend is simply not the same.
MT: How has Mediatool streamlined your process in the year and a half since you began using it?
NM: This tool has been such an asset for us! What I love about Mediatool is that its features are so plug-and-play and intuitive. Enough so that we feel comfortable media planning without a guidebook or a consultant looking over our shoulder. It’s allowed our team to remain self-contained which is a necessary luxury.
MT: That’s awesome to hear :) Are there any features in particular that come to mind as being the most helpful?
NM: The Media Overview offers a helpful perspective of what’s going on with our campaigns. Having a dashboard that can aggregate all of our campaign data and generate attractive graphs and charts based on a wide range of metrics we choose - whether date range, media type or whatever else - is a big benefit. Not to mention it’s all customizable too so if there’s not a metric present to measure what we’d like, we can create that metric. That level of variety and customization is crucial. Anyone who has had to report back to a board, a sponsorship department or any other stakeholders can appreciate the amount of time saved by having a tool that does this kind of work for you and Mediatool definitely does.
Another great function for us has been the Insertion Orders. Before that feature, we were putting our media plans together and then having to hop over to a separate sheet to actually create and send the orders to our media partners. Now we can do all of that right from within Mediatool and that’s saved us some valuable time too.
One last thing worth noting - although Mediatool has been pretty turnkey and we don’t often find ourselves needing support, it’s been nice to have the option of reaching out to an actual human as opposed to a generic customer support line. Beatrice and Kayla have been my contacts at Mediatool and both have offered assistance and shared updates when necessary and I really appreciate that.
Many thanks to Natacha McLeod and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.
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