In earlier blogs I’ve mentioned how helpful it is to have press reviews and ‘pull quotes’ for your show. How do you get ‘em? Here’s what I’ve done to get press:
If you’ve got money, you can hire a publicist – a good publicist will write your press release, send notice of your performances to the appropriate publications, and look for other publicity opportunities for you. Publicists usually work for a monthly fee, or a negotiated set fee for a specific amount of time (i.e. from the month prior through the month following the opening of your theater run), and of course they cannot guarantee results.
If you’re on a budget, you can easily do it yourself –
- Start at the news stand – when I wanted to publicize the theater run of my play, I went to a newsstand, stood there with a pad and pen, and went through every appropriate newspaper and magazine, gathering their editorial / review department addresses. You can call the publications to confirm submission deadlines (specifically for monthly publications, which may have months-early deadlines)
- Write a press release – You’ll need to include the basic info: What, Where, When, Who, How to Get Tickets. You also want to include some juicy, inviting tidbits that engage the reader’s interest. There are great examples online, just Google “How to Write a Press Release” (“for a theater show,” “for a show,” “for an event”).
- Mail your press release to the publications – in general, you’ll want to mail three months in advance for monthly publications, and three weeks in advance for daily or weekly publications (if unclear, just call the publication and ask).
- Follow up by phone – you don’t want to be a nuisance, but there is room for at least one follow-up call, about a week or two after mailing, to make sure your press release was received and to reiterate that you would love for the reviewer to attend.
- Look for publicity opportunities specific to your subject – Does your show have a subject matter or an angle that might merit a feature article? Start early and send a letter pitching your idea to the appropriate publication. An interview with you! If your show ties in with a hot subject matter, or a cultural event or Awareness Month, or any kind of niche, definitely promote yourself along those lines. Remember, publishers are always looking for content!
- Don’t forget online publications – Look for online theater reviewers and theater bloggers. A great pull quote is a great pull quote, whether it was printed on paper or in bytes.
- Be ready – Most often reviewers will call to let you know they’re coming. Be ready to take their call, and be ready to seat them even if they don’t call (and it’s often the reviewer +1). Save them good seats, and have your press kit ready for them.
- Be cool – this may sound obvious, but don’t pressure the reviewer with conversation or inquiries about what they thought of the show. Let them have their experience, and whatever happens happens!
With great love,