As a quick overview, I’ve spent the past 12 years buried in the entertainment industry, and when I saw the lack of material available for how to successfully market a theatre production, I felt I could help and decided to create my own series of blog posts with tips, inspiration and ideas.
If you missed it, you can read the first post on how to assemble the right team HERE.
Now that you have your team in place, the next step is to create and manage your theatre production’s website. Some of you may think this step is unnecessary, but this is one of the most important pieces of your marketing plan. This will be the end all be all for anything related to your production, cast and crew. Where your potential audience will find answers to their questions, and where agents, media and the industry will be able to discover you.
There are many options for building free websites, but I’m a fan of WordPress and have been using various versions of it for over 6 years. It’s simple to set up, completely free and doesn’t require that you buy a personalized domain name (although I would suggest it).
Your website should be clean, simple and easy to use. It should also be mobile and tablet friendly, and include your promotional images/branding and all sponsor logos and affiliates.
Below is a list of everything your website should have before your production begins in order to be successful:
Short Synopsis Of The Production: What is your piece about? Is it a musical? Drama? Who would it appeal to? Also be sure to include the running time so your audience can plan around it accordingly.
Show Dates & Times: This is one of the most important pieces of information to have. No one can come see it if you don’t tell them when it is.
Venue & Location: Include the full address (with postal code). Especially if the space is a rental, DIY, or outdoors. I’d highly suggest adding a Google Map as well (these are free and easy to embed in WordPress).
If this is a touring production then include a list of all cities and venues complete with addresses.
Ticket Information: Make sure to include all places where your audience can buy tickets. This includes all online links and in person. Make sure to include ticket prices, and if there are discounts for students, seniors, people buying in advance or in large groups. If you have any promo codes or special deals add them here as well.
Parking & Accessibility: Include instructions on how to get to the venue via transit, list as many options as possible for parking. Are streets free after 6PM? are parking lots only for customers? the more information you can provide the better. Another big one is accessibility. Is it accessible to those with disabilities? (wheelchairs, walkers etc)
Audience Advisory: This connects with the last point. Make sure to include info on anything that your audience would appreciate knowing in advance. Some things to consider: strobe lighting, high intensity sounds or effects, strong language and recommended age. If you are doing a Q&A after a specific performance make sure to include this as well.
Theatre & Show Etiquette Guidelines: Is there a dress code? are there venue rules such as no admittance after show starts? no cell phones or cameras?. If there is an audience participation night (such as dressing up in a theme) make sure to include this as well.
Cast & Crew: Make sure to include a short bio with an image for every cast and crew member. This should also include links to their websites, and all social media.
Contact Info: Make sure to include the appropriate contact info for your social/marketing team. This includes email and/or a contact form. Try to list who should be contacted for each inquiry. Who should someone contact if they’re looking for a press kit or want to set up an interview? Is someone separate in charge of advertising and sponsorships?
Press Section: If your production is new, you can add this after you starting getting reviews. Make sure to add all kind reviews, interviews with the cast or crew and awards.
Optional: If you can, include a list of nearby hotels, restaurants and any special events that may be related to your production (ex. grabbing a drink at the Fringe tent after) this will help audience coming from out of town plan in advance.
If you’ve managed to cover all of the above easily, and have the time to spare, I’ve include some bonus ideas for content to keep your website fresh and up-to-date.
Cast & Crew Blogs: Have each cast member write a blog about the discovery of their character or anything they found interesting in the process. Where do they draw inspiration from? This could include photos, music, places, events, people etc
For the crew, have them write a blog on their aspect of the production. Such as the process of making props, finding costumes, why they chose to light the production the way they did. They could also talk about sound cues/soundtrack, why were certain songs chosen?
Background Material: If your production is based on a historical event, time period or place, share the research that has gone into it, include images, videos, notes and inspiration.
Sponsor Material: if you have a local sponsor, write about your connection to the sponsor, what you like about their place, brand etc, why you chose to work with them.
If you’re part of something larger (an event or festival) write about other performances, plays, exhibits etc that you’re interested in checking out or would like to support.
Other Ideas: Upload photos from rehearsals, costume fittings, prop building and fundraiser events. If you’re a touring production, start a tour diary and share your experiences from each place.
Hopefully the above tips should get you started on building your dream website and have you thinking about your marketing plan.
Our next post will cover creating and managing your theatre production’s social profiles such as Facebook and Twitter.
Have questions? Thoughts? leave a comment below.