San Francisco Symphony — Citizen Journalist Night

Invite bloggers to experience the Symphony

The planning:

On July 18, 2007, the San Francisco Symphony brought many first-time visitors from the community into the hall. The event came out of a two-month planning process where local bloggers received an invitation to attend the “Classical Romance” concert that evening.  Approximately 20 bloggers accepted the invitations, and with their guests the total count came to nearly 40.  San Francisco had decided to address the rapidly changing media landscape – a landscape in which people are increasingly obtaining information not from the traditional sources of radio, newspapers, and TV, but from the more fragmented environment of the internet. San Francisco also wanted to begin new networking relationships. In return for tickets to the performance, the SFS asked each blogger to write about his or her experience.  As a result, the orchestra gained exposure not only with the bloggers but with the individuals who read the blogs. The goal was to tap into this network and especially focus on those who are not familiar with the orchestra.

The evening:

When planning the event, the San Francisco Symphony worked with a local blogger who passed along the SFS invitation to many other bloggers in the area. They received the same treatment that the traditional press receives – access to the press room, snacks, and complimentary tickets.

PR Associate Louisa Spier coordinated the evening and invited as many bloggers as possible. Restricting the bloggers from recording the concert became one of her main challenges. The bloggers spent time in the press room during intermission, where Associate Conductor James Gaffigan and San Francisco Symphony horn player Jonathan Ring answered bloggers’ questions.  One inquired how the programs are planned, another asked about balance issues between French horns and violins, and a third initiated a discussion about the stereotypical personality labels given to musicians, comparing hornists to oboists.

The Results:

The evening resulted in more than 30 blogs, and was also picked up by New Yorker music critic Alex Ross in his blog, The Rest Is Noise.   A compendium of all the blogs can be found here.

The event had a fantastic buzz as the bloggers typed, snapped, published, and shared ideas at a furious pace, mixing fun and passion in their posts.

Several excerpts from blogs:

“With the decline in newspaper arts coverage and the rise in prominence of many classical music bloggers, it is only natural that orchestras will start turning to this new form of music journalism. The more orchestras do to engage and involve bloggers, the more likely they are to get coverage and buzz.” – Jason Heath’s Double Bass Blog,

“Until last night I had never been to the symphony before. Sad, but true. I was among the lucky few who was invited by the San Francisco Symphony to a performance conducted by James Gaffigan. The entire evening was lovely… I also very much enjoyed the fact that this organization was really making an effort to reach out to bloggers and to young people. I can't wait for my next trip to the San Francisco Symphony.” -

For additional info contact:

Louisa Spier, San Francisco Symphony public relations
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