Promoting Your Performances – in the News, and on Social Media

Effective promotion techniques for harnessing the media, and social media

Female dancer
Multi-bits / Getty Images

So you've created this amazing show. And it's got everything - talented performers and crew, exciting staging, great production values. It's a must-see. Congratulations!

However, your work has just begun, as all of that means nothing unless you tell the world about it. After all, prospective audiences have to hear about your show in order to attend.

And that's where great PR and marketing enter the picture.

Marketing Basics

It's essential that your audiences and media targets be able to find and track your work and accomplishments, so make sure your basic marketing tools are well in place:

  • Launch (or update) a vibrant and dynamic website. It doesn't have to be too fancy, and in fact, too many bells and whistles can be distracting. Just make sure it introduces you, showcases your past successes, clearly lists your upcoming season, offers a way to buy tickets (or show financial support) online and off, and tells people how to contact you by all available methods. And don't forget to include your location along with a simple map of how to find you!
  • Send out regular newsletters and e-blasts on your productions, rave reviews, notable people or accomplishments, patrons, volunteer efforts, and more.
  • Purchase or trade out for advertising space in notable local newspapers and weeklies. (Many of these are often willing to 'trade out' for ad space in return for visibility in your playbills and programs, too.)

    Launching a PR Campaign

     

    Implementing some PR is something anyone can do. You just need to be willing to research and maintain some basic lists, materials, and approaches.

    • If you haven't already done so, build a terrific and inclusive press list, or media list, of recipients who will receive your news, and (hopefully) write about it. This media list should include such vital media contacts as local and regional newspapers, weeklies, magazines, TV stations, radio stations, arts and events bloggers.
    • Be sure to target calendar editors and performing arts editors by name, as well as the primary newsroom contacts, and use both email as well as U.S. mail, keeping track of any news contacts who express a preference for one form of contact ​over the other.
    • Write dynamic press releases promoting your production, with the most important information (who, what, where, when, how much) up front.
    • Start promoting your news and events immediately, intensifying efforts in the 4-6 weeks before opening. Make sure you're always professional and respectful in all approaches to the media.
    • Track your media mentions through simple tools like Google Alerts - and don't forget to link to (and promote) all rave reviews!

    Use the Power of Social Media

    In today's world, social media is a must - a powerful tool for expanding your audience base. So get comfortable with Social Media - and don't be afraid to be creative in your promotion efforts:

    • Launch a Facebook page for your organization, and heavily promote it on your website, in your e-mails, and with frequent updates on events or performances. Post regular updates in 420 characters or less.
    • Do the same on MySpace.
    • Sign up on Twitter and promote current and upcoming events in short, clear, energized updates (or "tweets") of 140 characters or less. Be clear, witty, and succinct.
    • Launch your own YouTube Channel and post video clips of performances, rehearsals, interviews, and more - then promote every update you post!
    • Do short, fun podcasts and post them to your website. These can involve conversations between cast members, interviews with directors or other notables, and more. Promote your podcasts on Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, and more.
    • Offer ongoing updates to interested audience members via cell phone Text Message

    Get Creative

    But this is just the beginning. If you have the energy and creativity, your promotion efforts might also include other creative approaches:

    • Write regular (15 or 30 second) Public Service Announcements, or PSAs, promoting your upcoming shows and events, and send them to local TV and radio contacts.
    • Open Twitter accounts for actual characters in your upcoming shows (where copyright allows), posting humorous tweets in-character that promote specific shows and show dates
    • Build and promote iTunes playlists that promote a show or season
    • Launch an online store promoting your organization through merchandise whose profits help to fund your efforts.CafePress or Zazzle are great ways to dive into this inexpensively and quickly.
    • Launch a blog for your organization and post (and link to it) regularly.

    And of course all of this is just the tip of the PR iceberg. There's a whole world of PR potential out there, and your shows deserve to be seen. Have fun - and don't forget to talk about your successes (or your own creative PR solutions) here in our forums!