Press

Here is a collection of interview given and earned media received during my time at Vancouver Opera. This collection can also be found on my online portfolio at Clippings.me.

Vancouver Opera was one of the first of the major performance organizations in the province to jump aboard the social-media train, when it hired social-media manager Ling Chan in 2008. Chan immediately launched a blog and opened the Vancouver Opera Twitter account in 2009. While Chan became a casualty of layoffs in 2011, when the organization tackled an $831,000 deficit, VO’s social-media presence remains strong. There is a steady stream of behind-the-scenes videos on VO’s Youtube account, cross-linked to Facebook, Twitter and its still-popular blog. – Georgia Straight, February 26, 2014

VOC’s success doesn’t only stem from the fact that they have a full-time social media manager (showing that they mean business). They figured out who they want to bring in (people weary of stuffy, long opera) and how to entice them (transparency, fun initiatives, discounted ticket promotions). Even smaller theatres can apply these to their social media efforts to bring in extra sales. – Viktor Kis, January 16, 2013

Other companies, such as Vancouver Opera, are using social media to attract new patrons. The opera tweets from backstage during dress rehearsals, live blogs during the show and offers sneak peeks of performances on Facebook.

“If we weren’t online they wouldn’t be able to find us, friend us, follow us,” said Vancouver Opera’s Social Media Manager Ling Chan. – CBC News, February 2 2011

The ever-so-hip marketing team at Vancouver Opera used QR codes posted around the city to promote their production of Lillian Alling. This, like the Cleveland Museum’s, is a VERY compelling use of a QR code. – National Arts Marketing Project, January 19 2011

Today Chan manages and moderates VO’s slate of social-media tools, including its blog and multiple Twitter, Facebokk, Flickr and YouTube accounts.

“We held our first Blogger Night @ The Opera for Carmen in early 2009, she says. “We invited bloggers who were opera newbies to come to opening night and during intermission. They even took a backstage tour and mingled with the cast, staff and guests. It was great exposure for us and a way of getting the next generation interested in opera.” – BIV’s Right Course January 2011 issue

The Vancouver Opera never really dabbled in social media, it dived in headlong.

According to VO social media manager Ling Chan, it started with general director James Wright wanting the VO to start blogging in 2008.

That prompted Facebook, YouTube and Flickr accounts as well. And less than a year later, the VO was on Twitter.

Chan is diligent in keeping up the blog, a potential pitfall for organizations that can launch into social media with great fanfare, only to go silent and leave their blogs, Twitter streams and Facebook abandoned and outdated.

Chan posts three to five times a week and ensures all the VO’s events are posted throughout the organization’s social media sites, with behind-the-scenes looks, interviews and pre-show production photos and videos shared on Flickr and YouTube. – Vancouver Sun, January 8 2011

Opera might not be the first entertainment that springs to mind when you think of leading-edge technology, but the Vancouver Opera is flipping the traditional image with its social media strategy.

The VO’s social media manager Ling Chan attributes that to general director James Wright, who is willing to try new initiatives, whether it’s blogger nights or a tweeting Opera Ninja.

“We started in May 2008 because our general director wanted us to have a blog,” said Chan. “When we started the blog we also started a Facebook account, YouTube and Flickr and in February 2009 we got onto Twitter.

“Management was very progressive and open about it. We’re at an advantage to have management that even thinks this way, we took the idea and just ran with it.” – Vancouver Sun, January 8 2011

Chan also started a photo series on Fickr and Facebook that she called Fashion at the Opera. She takes photos of willing participants before the opera and during intermission, and then posts their images online. The public can comment, add tags, or add their own photos to the Vancouver Opera Flickr group. The bloggers could also use these images in their live blog posts. The Blogger Night at the Opera events were so successful that Chan had other opera companies from around North America calling to ask how to organize their own, and also how to set up their own blogs. – Blogging to Drive Business by Eric Butow & Rebecca Bollwitt

As we move into 2011, it’s time to take a look back at my favorite articles and podcast episodes from Technology in the Arts in 2010. My Top 10 TITA Articles….Social Media Spotlight: Vancouver Opera — Amelia kicks off our Social Media Spotlight series by interviewing Ling Chan, Social Media Manager for the Vancouver Opera, about her social media strategy and experiments. – Technology in the Arts, December 30 2010

Another great way to engage visitors in a meaningful way is to encourage them to share their experiences of the organization with their friends and to create their own content. Social networking sites are centered on this idea of sharing experiences online and many organizations have taken advantage of this by encouraging their visitors to share photos and stories on the organizations’ social networks. The Vancouver Opera has a flickr fashion page that gives visitors who have “dressed to the nines” a place to shine online. – Technology in the Arts, December 15 2010

As marketing and exposure for arts organizations move online, those in the classical music scene will have to make the same sort of moves as the Vancouver Opera has, to a more aggressive online presence. This means that uploads to youtube, daily blogging and facebook fan pages will be part of the daily administrative work, as is opening mail and answering telephones. This will require a shift in thinking, perspective and priorities for most organizations. – Vox News, November 29 2010

Today, I interview Ling Chan, Social Media Manager at The Vancouver Opera. I have long been a fan of the VO’s forward-thinking and cutting-edge social media marketing techniques (which resulted in a Georgia Straight Best of Vancouver pick for Best Arts website), so I was super excited when Ling agreed to sit down for a few minutes with me and talk about their strategies. – Rebecca Coleman, November 24 2010

COMMANDOpera has written much on opinion columns in newspapers which masquerade as Blogs in an effort to appear hip and cool, which invariably they are not. There is another ‘Blog’ which is coming into use, and that is the so titled section now found on many Opera company web sites. It is immeasurably amusing that the vast number of theatre’s who visibly prefer the slight offerings of the old media as opposed to new media venues, attempt to wrap themselves in the gloss of that same new media. COMMANDOpera bypasses all of them after one reading as they are nothing more than saccharine sweet, averagely written commercials for what is going on at that particular theatre. There are two notable exceptions; Miss Suzanne Calvin at the Dallas Opera writes with a Texas girl’s down home style with more than a bit of Tabasco thrown into each post. Miss Ling Chan at the Vancouver Opera writes with such an easy breezy style, you actually think your reading a stand alone blog on Opera. There can be no question such blogs can be effective and become actual must read destinations, but the writing must imbue a sense of personal style or otherwise pack it in. – COMMANDOpera, October 22 2010

QR Code guerilla street posters are not only for indie bands and dance music, they have now appeared in Vancouver, Canada advertising the world premiere of a new opera. In addition to the street posters, during the run of “Lillian Alling” at Vancouver Opera there will be QR Codes throughout the theatre to enable opera goers to access backstage videos, trailers and reviews. A world first all round it seems! – 2D Code, October 9 2010

Yes, QR codes are nothing new in a lot of the world, but in North America they aren’t as common. Why did Vancouver Opera do this? Well, the VO is probably the most social media aware opera company in the world. Not only do they blog and tweet, they were the first to have “blogger night at the opera” on opening night. They have the stealthy “opera ninja” live tweet the dress rehearsals. So it makes perfect sense to me that the next step would be to take advantage of the space already available on their posters to add more multimedia to their advertising. – The Next Web, September 25 2010

It may specialize in a centuries-old art form, but the Vancouver Opera is ahead of the times when it comes to its Web presence. Head to www.vancouveropera.ca and you can watch videos of rehearsals and audience responses, listen to podcasts, or, funkiest of all, check out the Opera Manga—illustrated versions of the pieces on its seasonal roster. The VO also has its own blog, plus a phalanx of live bloggers covering its shows; it sponsors a video contest via YouTube called Operabot; and it ranks as one of the few arts organizations in North America to employ full-time staff dedicated to social media. Yes, the team even tweets from backstage on opening night. – Georgia Straight, September 23 2010

Vancouver Opera’s social media presence, headed by photography/fashion buff and technology maven Ling Chan, goes where few opera companies have gone before. In order to achieve their goal of increasing brand awareness and facilitating two way communications with their followers, the $9 million opera company has launched initiatives like manga (a traditionally Japanese style of comic) and an annual animation contest, for instance. Currently on the company’s blog is a serial feature written in the voice of the main character of their world premiere opera, Lillian Alling.

Vancouver Opera takes ideas that many non-profit arts companies might deem risky or unsustainable and, through a combination of sheer creativity, thorough execution and diligent tracking, have made the Vancouver Opera social media sites vibrant, interesting, and unique. – Technology in the Arts, September 7 2010

Vancouver Opera has been one of the more successful Canadian arts outfits online. Its Facebook and Twitter accounts hum with regular activity, and are quirky and revealing. One factor that contributes to its success? They have a dedicated employee to manage them.

Ling Chan joined Vancouver Opera in the fall of 2007 as an assistant to the managing director but soon had the company’s social networking tasks added to her duties.

So last December, VO made her their full-time social media manager, and she now spends her days churning out content for Facebook, Twitter and the company blog, as well as setting up contests and promotions and scouring and commenting on other social media arts channels. The primary goal is “lifting the veil to demystify the industry.” The company now live-tweets rehearsals and posts a “Fashion at the opera” feature, with photographs of patrons decked in their finery. – Globe & Mail, July 30 2010

Furthermore, if I had included concrete examples, I would have picked the Vancouver Opera…

I couldn’t be happier then to listen to Ling Chan’s presentation about Vancouver Opera’s social media efforts. I already knew the surface of their efforts, but Ling provided the most creative case study of an opera company’s use of social media. I recognized a lot of the same key points I tried to make from a theoretical point of view in Ling’s practical demonstration. She described her own experience of the presentation on her own blog. – Dutch Perspective, June 11 2010

For the last year, social media manager Ling Chan has been engaging with online influencers, initially a radical approach for a traditional organization with an aging audience. Ling also launched the successful Vancouver Opera blog. Likewise, the Opera’s Facebook page (more than 1500 fans) and Twitter efforts (more than 2200 followers) have grown continually, bouyed by the Blogger Night program. – Capulet Communications, March 25 2010

I like what the VO has done. In the fall the VO created a position called Social Media Manager. Ling Chan has quite successfully assumed the responsibilities of that position. I am very impressed with the efforts that the Vancouver Opera has made at reaching out to the community. Some of those efforts involve the Vancouver Opera very effectively reaching out to a new audience demographic through the use of social media.

Vancouver Opera is on Twitter. Vancouver Opera has a Facebook page and their own blog. Vancouver Opera is out in the community engaging people through interactive events…

I am very impressed with the Vancouver Opera’s willingness to redefine themselves in the marketplace, while honouring and respecting the long-standing supporters (the old codgers with gobs of money, to put it crassly). I am particularly with the efforts made by Ms Ling Chan. Well done Vancouver Opera, a tip of the hat to another successful 50 years in Vancouver! – Stacey Robinsmith, March 15 2010

At Vancouver Opera, Ling Chan has been promoted to the newly created position of social media manager and Hali Autio has been promoted to director of information technology. – Vancouver Sun, January 20 2010

When COMMANDOpera was invited (with a certain amount of arm twisting) to attend the season opening prima of Norma, even I was taken aback by how well thought out, and forward thrusted the marketing was. Heading this entire movement at the time was the executive assistant to the Director General, Miss Ling Chan. I was so impressed with my initial understandings of how deep the company was utilising bloggers, COMMANDOpera devoted a post to it found here. The Vancouver Opera, thanks to Miss Chan has its own blog which details events on just about everything found here. Ahhh, but did you think this was the end of it? Indeed not. They have a devoted blog for the upcoming Nixon in China found here , a Facebook page found here, a location on Flicker where they post all kinds of photographs found here, a Twitter account to tweet all things Vancouver Opera found here, and a YouTube page found here (I HIGHLY advise all opera company personnel who are reading this to watch the Norma opening night video to fully grasp how successful this multi faceted effort is reeling in a new audience). If this were not enough go here, click read and voila! Manga on the operas which are being mounted! I kid you not… indoctrinate the young now. This is a hardcore attack on all centers involved within the realm of the new media, and have not missed. And it is brilliantly magnificent in our eyes. – Command Opera, January 15 2010

VO has come up with some pretty great ideas over the last couple of years: Magna/cartoons, Blogger Night at the Opera, their video contest, and more. If fact, they’ve been one of my favourite companies to write about because they always seem to be doing something new.

Well they’ve just announced today that they’re going to try to stay on the cutting edge of things by appointing Ling Chan (who came up with the Blogger nights, as well as being the person in charge of their Twitter feed and their lead blogger on their site,) to the newly created position of Social Media Manager. From what I gather, this means that she’ll be continuing to create new ways to market VO as well as making her already active social media stuff a full time job.

I like it. I’m not a huge fan of “Social Media” as a concept general, (oh, the irony, it pains me,) but only because of the way that it’s been abused by corporations as they try to stay”hip.” Chan and VO have been doing a great job so far of staying on top of things without looking like my dad trying to pull of skinny jeans just because GQ says so. I think that they’ve picked the right person for the job – it’s a tough one to pull off but she’s done well so far. Here’s to more great ideas coming soon! – Canadian Opera Blog, January 14 2010

Given how often I end up in Seattle or San Francisco it’s irritating that I never seem to have time to get to Vancouver, as the opera company there has been on my radar for a while. I love what they have been doing to ease the stick out of the opera arse (to get Euro-trashy for a minute). And they seem to be really rising to the challenge of the new media/post-crunch era, speculating to accumulate recently with the appointment of a social media manager. I’ve seen too many companies who play around amateurishly with social media and then announce that it’s all a con and won’t work. Vancouver are bucking the trend and taking this seriously, creating posts to tackle the area professionally. And they’ve been consistently working at this for a couple of years now. They have blogs coming out of their ears, a fun and frequently updated Facebook page, and innovative ideas erupting faster than latex clad super-numeries in a Calixto Bieito production (speaking of people trying to shift that stick!). So PAMs (potential audience members) can stumble into their ambit from lots of different parts of cyberspace, and once there the impression is of a decidedly fun, newbie-friendly gang who love opera and want you to love it too. So congratulations Vancouver Opera for striding out on to the cutting edge – and reminding me that I really need to engineer a work trip to Vancouver one of the these days! And good luck VO social media manager Ling Chan – not that I think you need it judging by things so far. – Se Vuoi Pace, January 10 2010

While this company is over 50 years old (not significant in operatic terms) it operates with a free thinking elan thanks in large part to the combination of younger and older minds who run the theatre. There is no question to COMMANDOpera who has had a great deal of contact with the theater, the reality that every one’s voice is heard, and listened to. The commonly known West coast relaxed manner is well and alive. Ling Chan of the Vancouver Opera explained to me what was rather an obviously brilliant yet simple marketing strategy. Why not have a blogger’s table of local bloggers operate live from the theatre before and during intermission? What would the composition be of the table? The criteria was to have bloggers who did not blog on opera, but enjoyed a history of blogging in the region with a younger audience. I can only marvel at the sheer intelligence of the concept. The theatre reaches a guarenteed audience through the bloggers, who have established reputations in their own worlds. Their public would be generally hip, younger, and very clued in.

It just does not get better than that. – Command Opera, November 18 2009

Vancouver Opera put social marketing to the test earlier this year when it was performing Rigoletto. Opera employee Ling Chan would tweet to the 1,200 people who indicated that they wanted to be alerted to the opera’s specials.

These tweets would contain special promotion codes. More than 100 people entered the codes and received specials that ranged from 15% off ticket prices to a two-for-one concession.

Chan sent different promotion codes via Facebook. – BIV: The Blue Edition, September 2009 issue

But the leader of the pack may be Ling Chan at Vancouver Opera, who has been doing a bang-up job of extending the opera company’s reach beyond the usual classical-music suspects. The opera’s Twitter feed features fun & interesting opera news, as well as exclusive offers for Vancouver Opera fans. In related social media news, the organization has been reaching out to bloggers as well, through their innovative Blogger Night at the Opera. – Raised Eyebrow, August 14 2009

Wow! If the opera, renown for their tradition and history can turn to social media to spread the word, what’s stopping other industries? I know… that may be a bit too trivial, but you really have to hand it to the Vancouver Opera for enhancing their traditional marketing and communications vehicles with social media.

The Vancouver Opera also uses Twitter to pass along exclusive offers to their followers; another great idea. Kudos to Ling Chan, the individual at the Opera that is responsible for these initiatives; she deserves much credit for her outside-of-the-box thinking. The Vancouver Opera also deserves a tremendous amount of credit for trying something new and, some may say, risky. This case is yet another example of how social media is helping build strong brands and create dialogue with new and existing audiences. – Communications Reloaded, July 25 2009

“It was actually really successful,” said Ling Chan, who spearheaded the opera’s social networking efforts. Chan spoke recently in Victoria at a presentation called Social Media Marketing in Action: Using Social Media to Build Brand and Generate Leads. The event was put on by the Sales and Marketing Executives Victoria organization.

Chan’s work at the Vancouver Opera, where she uses social networking tools, was highlighted to show what other businesses can do with the resources. – Telegraph Journal, July 6 2009

I was surprised and very pleased to read the front page of the business section of todays Times Colonist newspaper based out of Victoria British Columbia. The title “Social networking boosts bottom line” brought a smile to my face. The subtitle “Blogs pay off by enhancing websites and communicating with customers” just made me more excited. It’s great to know that old media is recognizing the upside to new media. More and more these days the two are coming together and people are embracing the web and all it has to offer. The days of segregated media companies are over.

Victoria Times Colonist columnist Cara Wilson follows Ling Chan who is running the Vancouver opera’s social networking campaign. Chan recently presented at Social Media Marketing in Action: Using Social Media to Build a Brand and Generate Leads here in Victoria BC. – Stikky Media, June 26 2009

Ling Chan, assistant to the managing director of Vancouver Opera, said the local company scooped the contest idea from a similar one run by Chicago Opera Theater.

“Because Vancouver’s an animation city we thought it would be a good combination, especially with our manga, as well,” she said. – Vancouver Courier, June 24 2009

Twitter’s phenomenal growth was reflected in “The Twitter Effect,” a packed session at Cossette West’s Convergence 2009 conference held at the new Vancouver Convention Centre.

What’s powerful about Twitter, according to session moderator Briana Tomkinson of Fjord Interactive is that its a “meme incubator” that allows for hyperconnectedness and spread of ideas.

The panelists included Brad Nelson, the “official tweeter” for Starbucks, Michael Tippett, the founder of NowPublic, and Ling Chan, the social media manager for the Vancouver Opera. – Techvibes, May 11 2009

Vancouver Opera goes High Tech: Ling Chan and Selina Rajani explain – CiTR Arts Report May 6, 2009 podcast

And in January, The Vancouver Opera invited three bloggers to come and live blog and Twitter a performance of their latest Opera, Carmen. The show was a sell-out. They repeated the process this last Saturday night with Rigoletto.

What I think is most interesting about these three examples is that they were a success (at least to some degree) on two different levels. The actual event of blogging and Twittering created a buzz around the event in the moment. But, later on, all three of these stories were picked up by bloggers and the mainstream media. – Rebecca Coleman, March 11 2009

In fact, Vancouver Opera is on Facebook. And Twitter. And it has its own blog with guest posts and video diaries, and a micro site with audio clips and the world’s first manga opera comic book series.

The organization, which turns 50 in 2010, is determined to demystify the opera experience for younger audiences through social media. And it’s working, according to Ling Chan, assistant to Vancouver Opera’s managing director.

Almost every performance of Carmen sold out with keeners milling around outside hoping for freed-up tickets, she said.

Those inside posed for photos for the opera’s Flickr site. “We had a huge spike in people that are viewing our pictures just because everyone wanted to see themselves all dressed up and glammed up at the opera. – Vancouver Courier, March 6 2009

When you think of opera, blogging and social media aren’t usually things that come to mind and yet, you’d be wrong. Vancouver Opera has realized that in order to expand their audience and bring a whole new generation to opera, they had to adapt.

Ling Chan and Selina Rajani have the full support of Vancouver Opera to lead the charge with blogs, podcasts, and even Twitter. The results?

Ticket sales. Lots of ticket sales. – M2O Digital Agency, March 6 2009

Most of our opera-goers are 50 and above,” explains Ling Chan, assistant to VO managing director Christopher Libby and the engine behind forays into on-line social media, including a Facebook page, a Flickr account, and a newly launched Twitter feed. “We thought, you know, young people read blogs, they’re very active on-line. So that’s a way that we can approach them and let them know that we have these things in store. – Georgia Straight, March 5 2009

Vancouver Opera has pretty much gotten it down by introducing smart initiatives that successfully culture-jam the operatic art form, and break it down for the masses. And O.C. is obviously all about applauding accessibility. – Opera Chic, January 27 2009

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