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Entertainment

Center Stage: Online Theatre Promotion (Act I): Press Releases

By Lance Trebesch and Dustin Stoltz May 19, 2009

theatre-image-1

Promoting your theater online is an intensive process, but if well executed it can have huge payoffs.  There are 3 major topics that can cover online promotion effectively:

  1. Press releases
  2. Newsletters
  3. Blogging

All of these areas have different functions so it is important to carefully think through what you would like to achieve with each. This series  takes an in-depth look at each of these major topics and gives techniques on how to improve their effectiveness so you can have the whole house coming back for more.

This first segment will increase the number of reviews for your theater’s performances by creating fabulous online content through press releases. The sole purpose of a press release is to charm an editor or reviewer to write about something that is happening with your theater. Topics may include a performance, additions to the theater, change in management, or public related events. There are some basic rules to know before writing and sending out your press release.

I.  Content

Because most press releases are posted on the web, it is a good idea to write with specific, keyword rich content. This will allow search engines, like Google, to place your press release higher on a list of search results. When writing your press release for keywords remember:

  • Don’t be too general. You’ll get lost in the competition.
  • Place the most important keywords in specific areas, like in the title and headers.
  • Make readers your first priority.  If a keyword interrupts the reader experience it should be omitted.
  • Include the location of your theater (city and state).

Also, include links to past press releases (if you have any), blogs, your website, pictures, videos, playbills, or even audio musical clips. Rich media connects readers and encourages interactive experience.

There are some things you must cover in a press release, but there are many things you also should stay way from. Follow the formatting guide below to get the basics of what you need to include in your press release.

II.  Formatting
Present only relevant information in your press release answering the following: who, what, where, when, and why. Press releases are also written in a specific format. An ideal press release should only be a page long. Normally, the information will fall in this order:

  • Press release dates. This includes the day it was written, and the date you want it to be released.
  • Headline. Usually this will be the name of the production and the author. Make sure to keep your headlines catchy because this will be the first thing they read.
  • Body. Here will be a short description of what your theater is promoting.
  • List of cast members (if applicable).
  • Additional Information. This section is optional but may include awards and reviews, and cast pictures.
  • Date, place, location (including area code), times of performances, and price.
  • Contact information. Include at least phone number and email.
  • ### or END. This signifies the end of your press release.

Below is an example of the top section of a theater’s press release for a musical comedy:

sample-press-release

III.  Don’t be a Nuisance!
If a reviewer isn’t writing about you after you send them several press releases don’t waste any more time trying to persuade them. Instead, target reviewers who have an interest in the subject you’re announcing. When someone does write about your theater be courteous! Send them a sincere thank-you letter to encourage them to write again.  Also, consider sending your press release out to online press sites. They can help you optimize your distribution list.

Press releases have potential to create excellent public relations for your theater. With these tips for writing press releases you should be on your way to a full house. For more online promotional techniques for your theater, see the second segment of this series,