20 Oct 2020

Ghost Light PodcastEpisode 5.4 – USUO Vice President of Marketing and PR: Jonathan Miles

Utah Symphony | Utah Opera Vice President of Marketing and Public Relations, Jonathan Miles joined the Ghost Light Podcast to discuss how USUO’s marketing strategy had to “pivot” to accommodate the COVID-19 restrictions.

It would be easy to follow many of the other performing arts organizations across the country, and close our doors until next season. Jonathan, however, feels that the live music experience is essential to our lives as a community. Patron surveys after the opening weekend of the 2020-21 season show that our audiences couldn’t wait to get back to Abravanel Hall and hear live music. “Really, at the end of the day it comes down to serving the community and using music to help people feel like they are a part of a community.”

In a typical year the marketing team would be solidifying plans and building campaigns for the next season, while also looking two seasons ahead, AND promoting the current line up of performances. All with the goal of enticing as many people as we can to attend a performance. “I personally feel responsible for every empty seat in the venue. My wife and my team will tell you I hate seeing empty seats – I can’t even look at them! Because I feel like it’s a missed opportunity. Every time there is an empty seat at a concert or at an opera it’s a missed opportunity for someone who could have enjoyed the performance from that seat.”

The safety of the artists, patrons, and staff have always been a priority. But in the current climate, safety is a much more prominent topic. “We have meetings about where to put easels in the lobby. So, it’s not like safety never mattered before. But now it’s definitely a priority.” At the same time, Jon is firm in the belief that “we don’t want it [safety] to become what everyone is talking about. Because if you’re talking about safety then you’re missing the point, which is the music, and the live experience, and the benefit that can have on our souls and our community.”

Most of the time the Ghost Light Podcast is recorded in Jon’s office. If you have ever heard a clicking sound in the background of an episode, that would be Jon typing as softly as he could! “It’s been fun to have people like Hillary Hahn sitting in my office and all sorts of artists and conductors.” Among his favorite episodes have been the interviews with opera directors because he gets to hear about their creative process. The interview with Patti Austin also stands out as his favorite.

Having sat through more than 80 episodes of the podcast, does Jon have a ghost story to share? Find out in episode 5.4 of the Ghost Light Podcast.