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.
Now that you have your team in place, your website built, and your social channels ready, the next step is to create and manage your theatre production’s marketing material and come up with an outreach strategy. The most successful campaigns think outside the box, are creative with their materials, and invite interaction.
To Start, we’ll go over the basic marketing materials every production should have, these include but are not limited to a program, posters/flyers, a press release and teaser videos and photos.
Creating A Program: you’d be surprised the amount of programs I’ve been given at a production or event that were missing even the simplest things. At a minimum a program should have the following:
- Be Spelling And Grammar Free: This includes spelling all cast names, sponsor names etc correctly.
- Include A Synopsis Of The Production: What’s it about? For media (like me) this helps later when writing a review, or trying to explain it as concisely as possible to someone else.
- A Back Story: If your production is related to a historical or social event, or takes inspiration from one, share it! This will help give your audience context and something for them to discuss or comment on.
- Cast & Crew Bios: Have each member submit a short bio, and ideally edit and re-structure them so they are consistent and sound the same. Make sure to include photos, so when media are trying to write about a performance they can match names with actors. Also be sure to edit for spelling and grammar and make sure to include all social media channels and websites where each member can be reached.
- Include Sponsors & Advertising: Selling a page or advertising space in your program is a great way to raise production funds and build relationships with local businesses.
Some ideas could include: “20% off dinner for 2 at Restaurant X if you bring in this coupon.” “Costume tailoring done by ABC, bring in this program to receive a free fitting and consultation.” “After Party is sponsored by and being held at Club X, please come join us for half price pitchers on X night only”
Creating And Sending Out A Press Release: Most press releases are often not written correctly and missing vital information. A press release should ideally, in my opinion be something that I can pretty much copy and paste to add to my website. If you send me a big long email and I have to read it over, edit it and look for additional information it’s not going to get posted to my site. Media don’t have the time to do your job for you.
Some things to include:
- For Immediate Release: If this is for immediate release and you want people to post and share it, you need to state so, otherwise most media will assume it’s under embargo until further notice. The minute I see that, I know I can post it to my website and get it out.
- Headline: Why are you emailing me? Your headline should state exactly what the press release is about. This is the title most blogs and websites will use to share. If you can keep it to 140 characters for Twitter, even better. An example may look like “ABC Theatre Company Returns To The Stage With It’s Production Of XYZ”
- Text: The first paragraph should include a followup to the headline, example “Jane Doe, ABC Theatre Company’s Founder announced the theatre company’s next production…” Starring (fill in lead roles) Directed by (add Director) the production will be mounted at (at venue and dates). At the end always include a link for schedule, tickets & info, the email for your marketing/press person or how they can be contacted, or who to contact for interview requests.
- Additional Info: If you want, you may include an ‘About ABC Theatre company’ at the end of the release. If your release is under embargo (you don’t want any links shared or posted until a certain date) make sure to include what that date is. If you’re having a media preview day make sure to include date and time and who to contact to be added to the media list.
Photos & Media: If you have photos or media you would like blogs or websites to share please include it in the press release. Most times this is done with a link to either a Dropbox or something similar.
- Production Image: Make sure to include the production poster/image (ideally you should have various sizes such as a header image, full poster etc) as many websites have different options for their ‘featured image’.
- Preview Media: If you have preview or production photos that can be shared, add those to the dropbox as well, make sure to include all photo credits. If you have a trailer or video of some short, that can be added to the dropbox as well. Generally, I’d recommend adding the video to Youtube first, as most websites work well with Youtube embeds and it makes it easier to share.
How To Create A Media List: This could be a blog post all on it’s own, but the long and short is, have your press release ready and follow the guidelines on how to create one above. Don’t spam people with it, and most importantly DO YOUR RESEARCH!!
- People You Know: First, start off with a list of people who you know are already interested in your production. This could include people who you’ve already spoken with and media outlets who have shared or posted about your productions in the past.
- Local Media: Next, target local media, newspapers and local bloggers. If your production is based on an historical event then reach out to people, outlets or groups who are actively interested in the event already.
- New People: This is where the research comes in, target new people and outlets. Make sure you check their website or pages for who to specifically contact about your production. Check their website to see if they have posted reviews or about theatre productions in the past, or productions similar to yours. If they only post about Death Metal, then they are not for you.
As mentioned these are only the basics, and they could all be expanded on. Our next post will go over some creative ideas for how to get your audience to interact with and share about your production.
Have questions? Thoughts? Comment below or feel free to reach out!