What's on Your Phone, Amelia Northrup-Simpson?

An interview with Amelia Northrup-Simpson (MAM ’11), Director of Strategic Communications at TRG Arts and AMT-Lab contributor.

Christine: What are the apps you use every day, and why do you like them?

Amelia: I guess I would put them into categories – the ones I use every day include email, Google Calendar, Hangouts (which I use for texting), Chrome, and the social media apps. Those are the ones I use daily that I assume everyone uses, and are on my main home screen because I use them so often.

Then there are a few that I use nearly every day that I don’t assume everyone knows about:

  • I  use Asana, which is a to do list app. Asana is great – I use it for both my job at TRG to organize and categorize my everyday tasks and for the class I teach at University of Denver to keep me on track and make sure I get things done each week. It does a great job of helping me prioritize whether something needs to be done today or if it’s something upcoming that can be put off until later. Being able to categorize the different aspects of my job is really helpful.
  • I’m a bit of an audiophile, so I have both the Stitcher app for my podcasts, and Overdrive, which lets me listen to audiobooks from the library for free. I like to listen to books or podcasts when I’m out driving or running, or occasionally when I’m working as background noise.
  • The other app that I use nearly every day is Mint, which lets me see all my bank accounts, credit cards, retirement accounts, and student loans on one easy interface. I have both my accounts and my husband’s accounts in there so we can budget and track expenses together.

I don’t know that those are specific to arts managers, but they help me be productive in my job and personal life.

Christine:  Is there an app you think developers should be working on?

Amelia: I think there are a lot of good apps already existing for arts orgs. At TRG we’re always thinking about audience loyalty and I’ve been thinking about if there’s a way to incentivize and encourage loyalty in existing mobile apps for arts organizations. Could an app for an arts organization add an element of gamification – incorporating a reward or loyalty system either through the ticket system for an app or through what the app already does that might encourage repeat visits? 

I know that getting people to come back to a performing arts organization multiple times in the same season is a real measure of loyalty, and in museums, the number of visits in the year has great effect on their renewal rate as members. Is there a way we can build that into an app and make being loyal to an organization fun and something people look forward to? How can we take apps that are in existence or already useful and use them to make the organization itself more sustainable and add value for the patron? I always look for ways in which the organization and patron could mutually benefit, and this struck me as an opportunity.

Christine: Is there an app which surprised you with its usefulness?

Amelia: After having resisted for years, I installed Google Analytics on my phone, and I am consistently surprised at how many times I have looked at that app. I can quickly check on our real-time website stats or use it to reference data on the fly. I never thought I would use it, but it’s really useful when you’re in a meeting and someone asks how many hits we got last month. Especially in my position, I am expected to know these numbers and like to have a quick reference.

Christine:  If you could recommend an app for every arts manager, what would it be?

Amelia: I would recommend feedly or any other kind of RSS aggregating app. I switched to feedly after Google Reader shut down. It’s a multi-platform way to collect all of the blogs that I love all in one place. This is often the first app I will use on my phone in the morning--just over breakfast or whatnot, I am looking or reading what is out there in the industry. I follow Amt-lab, ArtsHacker, Selling Out, Createquity, Know Your Own Bone, and numerous others. It’s a great app to have and to check on what’s going on in the world. Technology changes so fast, so you can use it to stay current on rising trends or looking at what organizations are doing.