This past week on the couches at Aroma’s, members of Max Sparber’s Omaha Playwrights Group sat down for coffee with the Omaha World Herald’s Bob Fischbach and myself to discuss the relationship between theatres and the media on a national and local scale. The discussion touched on a number of important topics bringing about better insight and understanding on how theatres and the media interact with one another, which practices work, and what can be improved on by both sides in the future.
Fischbach pointed out that when he writes a feature about a certain production, the editors will emphasize the importance of readability for the everyday consumer. Sure an article might be interesting to the theatre community, but will it intrigue the typical Omaha citizen?
Indeed, Omaha theatres who are mindful to this question give themselves a great boost. Sparber echoed the sentiment by stressing the importance of a proper press release.
All three of us agreed that a major slip up for some theatres in the Omaha community is the creation, content, and timing of a good press release. Some important points were:
Timing: The best time to send your information in is 2 weeks minimum and 4 weeks maximum. Send it in any earlier and it can easily get lost in the shuffle over time, any later and you risk losing coverage because the press deadlines that get your show coverage have either passed or are a day away.
Contact Information: Always, I repeat, always include the contact information of your theatre in the press release. Even if your theatre has been covered numerous times by different publications, a writer can’t possibly remember every single theatre address, phone number, and website.
Content: One sentence about a show does not a press release make. In fact, sometimes one paragraph is underachieving. Great press releases not only provide a proper overview the show, but also mention interesting tidbits about the production that could be potential marketing gold. Are the two leads in your show married in real life? Do one of your cast members have a personal connection to a play that people would enjoy hearing about? Is there a current event in the world that your production sheds light on? Anything you can provide the media is a great help to you and to the writer.
To be sure, some theatres have an easier time of it than others. Some have hired staff whose exclusive responsibility is marketing while others rely solely on volunteers. Take time to market yourself properly and the rewards can be great.
Cold Cream looks at theater in the metro area. Email information to firstname.lastname@example.org