Example Scripts of the 3 Emails You Should Send a Press Contact
Of course there’s more to getting press coverage than what your press release looks like and when you send it out. It has a lot to do with reputation and relationships, but once you’ve got those under control you do want to think about when is the best time to send out press releases about your show – and what do you say to your media contacts when you send them out.
Those are things I touch on in the marketing calendar that I make freely available through Sold Out Run. The calendar just touches this idea lightly, though, so Wes has a few questions:
I’ve gotten a lot of mileage out of both Reaching A New Audience and your free marketing template over the last year or so. Thank you!
I have a question about press releases: the marketing template has three press releases for a show: a “save the date”, an “invitation” and a “reminder”.
I’m just wondering if you have templates or examples of each of these specific types of press release… I feel concerned about sending out so many press releases if they are too similar/repetitive (our theater is in a small market of just 70,000 residents and only 8 or 10 media outlets/publications), I worry about overwhelming the local press folks and causing them to tune us out, especially as our season includes lots and lots of two-weekend runs of original works, one after another, meaning a lot of overlap…
Any pointers on keeping the press releases distinct and offering the right amount of info in the right order, that kind of thing?
First of all, thank you, Wes, for asking this. I think this is a great question, and I’m confident other Sold Out Run readers are wondering the same thing.
Note: I’m asking a couple of professionals that I know get invitations and press releases all the time to share their thoughts to in the comments, so don’t miss those. Update: I’ve already got the first comment in, and it’s full of useful stuff.
I’ll start by sharing this idea is something I coaxed out of Jessica Redden of Bohlsen PR on episode 38 of the podcast. The approach here is not to actually send your press release three times, but to make contact three times.
The idea is to reach out to your media contacts 6 weeks, 4 weeks, and 2 weeks out from opening night – or whatever night you’d like them to attend. This timeline is a starting point, by the way. Each media outlet might want more or less lead time.
There’s a local public television show in Indianapolis called The Art of the Matter that books their stories months in advance. Obviously 6 weeks is far too late to be making first contact with them.
How do you find out when a media outlet wants to receive information about upcoming events? Ask them.
For the best chance of success you want these contacts to be as intimate as possible. If you can be talking to the person who makes these decisions face-to-face, that’s great. A phone call might be second best, and sometimes an email makes the most sense when you just don’t have that close of a relationship.
I present email scripts below, but you could take the gist of these and adapt them to a real-time conversation. Always use the communication channel that your contact likes best. (That might mean someone you have a close relationship with prefers that you send them email because it makes their life easier. If that’s the case, then absolutely use email.)
The real moral here is tailor this approach to each source where you are looking for coverage. Now on to the three contacts.
Contact #1: save the date
The purpose of this message is just to get your show on the radar of your media contacts. You’re not even sending a press release right now. There’s a lot of demands on these people’s time and attention, so planting a seed early is important.
You may have a few contacts respond right away that they want to attend. As your reputation and relationships in the community grow, this might happen more frequently, but many people will just scan the message and delete it at this point. That’s perfectly fine for now.
Hope all is well. This is just a short message to let you know that ABC Repertory Theatre will be mounting the Hawaii premiere of Spring Awakening this October.
We’ll send a full press release before the end of the month, but if you’re looking ahead at your calendar, we open on 10/17 and run for four weeks. We’d love to offer you a pair of complimentary tickets to opening night.
P.S. If 10/17 doesn’t work for you, please let me know as I’m confident we can find another date that does.
Contact #2: invitation
This is when you’re sending the actual press release. I format it as a PDF
and attach it to the email message. Update: Check the comments below – apparently I make life a lot easier for my contacts if I include the content of the press release in the email body! If you’ve got a digital media kit, this is also the right time to include the link.
I sent you a brief email a few weeks ago about ABC Repertory Theatre’s production of Spring Awakening. As promised here is the official press release. Promotional stills and other information are also available for download at:
We open on 10/17 and would love to have you as our guest.
If there are any questions I can answer about the production, please don’t hesitate to ask. My cell number is 317-555-1234.
Contact #3: reminder
This is one more attempt to connect with anyone you haven’t heard from yet.
Just wanted to check in to see if you were interested in attending our production of Spring Awakening. If you are I want to make sure we’ve set aside a pair of tickets for you.
I’ve attached the press release to this email for your convenience. The opening is 10/17, but if another performance works better for you please let me know.
Promotional stills and other media:
As your list of media contacts grows, you’ll find it’s hard to keep all of the activity straight in your head. It’s a good idea to track when you sent different emails to each contact and what their response was.
If someone responds that they want tickets, I make a note of the date they’ll be coming and mark an ‘o’ to show that they don’t need to receive the third email. (Even if they tell you they want tickets after the first email you still need to send the second one because it has the press release and media kit, but you might want to add a sentence to that second message confirming the date they’ll be attending.)
If they tell me they’re out for this production (because they’re out of town, they have a conflict of interest with the show, etc.) then I mark an ‘x’ so I don’t keep sending them emails.
One final note: I’m doing the last bits of work to pull together The Email Marketing Primer for Theatres, a short ebook that will be available here at Sold Out Run starting April 9th. Topics include how to grow your email list, the email campaign software to use, and the secret weapon to help you build a relationship with your subscribers: autoresponders.
Learn a bit more about the ebook and sign up to be notified when it’s available for sale.