Data + the Greater Good Meetup: Mary Caraccioli at Lincoln Center

by Mary Plum

Posted August 18, 2018

In a post-Cambridge Analytica world, organizations face new challenges in leveraging their data for maximum impact. Do constituents trust third-party vendors with their information? How are third-party vendors communicating with organizations who need this data? And how much does this impact an organization’s efforts to carry out their mission?

Mary and VP of Product Matthew Weber

Data + the Greater Good, an event highlighting the intersection between data, digital transformation, and mission-driven organizations, returned this July with guest speakers Bridget Mendoza, Director of Business Systems at The Whitney, and Mary Caraccioli, Chief Communications Officer at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. Mary spoke on how data plays a role in her work, as well as how she and the organization operate in our post-Cambridge Analytica world (read about Bridget’s presentation here).

Lincoln Center is the largest collection of performing arts organizations, a total of 11, on one campus in the world. Mary works for Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, which carries out three main functions:

  • Arts Presentation – Major performance series and festivals
  • Community & Education Programming – Social impact across all five NYC boroughs, in places such as prisons, schools and homeless shelters
  • Campus Management – Managing the facilities of campus and resident organizations

Data is gathered by every resident organization within the Lincoln Center campus, as well as administrative departments such as communication, marketing, IT, digital, and development. These organizations and departments can be more deeply siloed within themselves, and data often isn’t shared between organizations or departments. Mary leads the communication department, focusing on creating content and accessing the data that either informs that content or stems from it.

As Chief Communications Officer, Mary is a storyteller. She works as a content creator, both through earned media and paid media. Her content lives in different places and in different mediums – whether it be a newspaper article, a piece in a playbook, an online video, or a tweet. Data is housed in each to measure things such as reach and impact. Sometimes those are easy to measure – such as when a video is posted online, and the platform provides interaction analytics such as views, likes, and comments. With other types of content, it can be harder to measure reach and impact, such as with a newspaper article. In such cases, her team might measure sales activity after the piece drops to understand its impact.

Mary and Junior Consultant Mary Plum

For Lincoln Center, after Cambridge Analytica, third party vendors were impacted the most. Capabilities that these vendors had to track user data were temporarily or permanently gone. Organic communications had a few hiccups, and marketing was impacted the most, with a fear that data on constituents might not come back. It became harder to get data from interactions on Instagram, but for Lincoln Center, Facebook was the most challenging.

Facebook has been opaque about what would happen and what it means for developers and vendors. Lincoln Center has found issues when attempting to perform specific marketing tasks, such as targeting users or tagging celebrities who participate in their events. Reaching the right audience is crucial for content creators like Mary. She needs to target through interests, and do so in a timely manner, as Lincoln Center events run for short time periods. Having access to the data that enables them to do this is crucial for Lincoln Center to successfully carry out their mission. Lincoln Center then measures the return on investment by looking at sales in relation to time that ads or social content is published, as well as social media insights.

In the face of these limitations regarding access to data, Lincoln Center has seen one of its best summers yet, with a high return on investment. Whether this is because consumers feel protected or because junk is filtered out, Mary can’t say, but she does know that Lincoln Center is thriving in a post-Cambridge Analytica world and that “social is here to stay.”


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