So, you’ve got everything that you need to make your show a huge success: a well-written script, a talented cast and the theatrical know-how. Your main priority now is marketing your show properly to sell some tickets.
If you think you don’t need to market your show, think again.
In top theatres marketing makes up for 20% of the show’s budget, to put that into perspective: 8% of the show’s budget goes to the actors.
Marketing professionals will often talk about the famous three P’s (place, promotion & product) and how these are an essential part of any marketing strategy. When talking about theatre, however, the three P’s can become complicated and confusing elements.
Despite the complexities and the overlap, the place, product and promotion are essential to the marketing of theatrical performances. The reason for this lies in the necessity of producing a high-quality press release.
This is one of the most widely accepted ways to disseminate in the theatre world and there is a good reason for it: magazines and newspapers have hugely diverse readerships which means that they have the ability to make your target audience accessible to you.
The theatre press release comes in all shapes and sizes: it can pack the punch of a news update, provide information about your new show, publicise a photo call or promote the interesting theatrical occurrences that don’t quite make the news. The key fact to remember about the press release is that the person who reads it will not be buying a ticket to your show, they may well be a theatre goer, but to you, they are a journalist and will be thinking like one when they read it.
Considering the place element of the three P’s is crucial to your marketing strategy and choosing the right outlets to send your theatre press release to is half the battle. Make sure that it falls into the hands of the right people; arts magazines and newspapers with regular theatre features usually work best. For example, there is little purpose in sending your press release to the likes of The Daily Sport due to their low involvement with theatre.
Take into account the purpose of your press release as well, news pieces and photo calls are best sent to national newspapers with the means to process them properly. Whereas the smaller occurrences that aren’t quite newsworthy should be sent to columnists.
It is important for you to know your show inside and out, this is an essential part of writing your theatre press release. The opening paragraph should summarise the plot, like a good news story it will cover the who, what, why when, where and how factors that will make up the performance.
Remember that first impressions count and the journalist who reads this is likely to have read through many of these already, so make it interesting, informative and most importantly: concise.
This is arguably the most important element to consider as the press release will be used as a means of promoting your show to the right people. The key thing to remember is that journalists are incredibly busy, and have to hand pick which content fills the precious pages of their publications. The answer to this is to make it easy for them, don’t fill your press release with pointless description that ultimately makes identifying details a difficult task.
If you can write your theatre press release as a journalist writes their articles then the chances are that they will just pick a chunk of text and copy it right into their publication, keep the information relevant, informative and to the point and you could see yourself in print.
Making life easier for journalists through tactical press release writing makes the promotion of your show to your target audience infinitely easier.
As outlined earlier there are different types of press release, make sure you know why you are writing yours. Keep the aims of the press release clear as any misunderstanding or the attempt to achieve more than one thing with your press release will make it unusable for journalists.
If you don’t know why you’re doing it, you can be sure that the journalist reading it certainly won’t!
Try to keep it to one page, the press release should be concise and to the point. Do not worry about not being able to say enough, because a picture speaks a thousand words and can only strengthen your press release. A good quality picture can provide your press release with some real substance, highlight the meaning and really sell it to a journalist.
Ensuring that news of your show reaches as many people as possible is a significant part of theatre marketing, and it is for this reason that the theatre press release is such an established tool for promoting a show. Not only does it reach a large number of people, but it is incredibly cost effective and highly tailored to your desired audience if done properly.
The Features Editor for How to Do Theatre, Daniel is into travel, popular culture and sometimes a combination of the two. He is obsessed with travelling and is keenly interested in all things marketing. His biggest influences are Alex Garland, David Ogilvy and Andy Warhol.