The Open Book Project: 5 Weeks Out: Building Credibility

The activity this week is continuing the process of establishing credibility for the show. We’re reaching out to court some press coverage. We’re talking about the pedigree of the award-winning playwright. We’re laying the groundwork to be able to feature these actors speaking thoughtfully about this material.

This post is part of the Open Book Project, where I let you peek over my shoulder as I promote a theatre production.

Here’s what was originally planned for this week. (View the full marketing calendar.)

5 Weeks Out

9/24/2013 story of the author (dramaturgy #2) blog, social media
9/26/2013 rehearsal photos teaser blog, social media
press release email #2 special email

Story of the Author

While Edward Albee is a very successful playwright who is well known in some circles, he’s hardly a household name. Since part of the focus of our marketing objective is conveying that this production is filled with talented people at the top of their game, it’s worth it to emphasize Albee a little in our general marketing.

I wrote a short piece for AUP that talks about Albee as a talented and adventurous playwright. It mentions some of his most prestigious awards, and drops the name of his most famous work Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Some people who do not recognize the name Edward Albee will recognize that title and be more interested in this production upon learning he also wrote this.

No Photo Teaser

Last week a rehearsal photo went out. (That replaced the production meeting photo which has yet to be captured because the production team has not met recently.) There could easily be additional rehearsal photos added over the next few weeks, but there wasn’t anything new visually to show this week.

The show is in blocking rehearsals right now, and for this particular production (with a fairly simple stage and small cast) photos of the show being blocked just wouldn’t make for very interesting photos.

Press Release

Last week the official press release went out. To the extent it’s possible, I think it’s important to add a personal touch to the press releases. An email that was sent out to 30 people is very easy to ignore, but an email that addresses you personally with your name and starts with a few sentences addressed specifically to you is far more likely to grab your attention.

the more successful you are developing a relationship with people who write/talk about the arts in your market the more press coverage you will see

This step can be challenging, but the more successful you are developing a relationship with people who write/talk about the arts in your market the more press coverage you will see down the road. This isn’t strictly about getting coverage for your current production.

You’re only going to get written about when you are perceived to have an impact on the local arts community. Convincing someone of that in a single email or conversation is almost impossible, but a series of contacts over time about what you are doing will help you establish relevance in the minds of arts journalists.

So the main part of the press release Beth sent out was very traditional with information about Edward Albee, the new first act, and the local people involved in this production. But it was sent to each name on her press contact list with a few warm words. Where she knows something about that person she wrote about that. If she’s never really had a conversation with that person, she introduced herself to start the ball rolling for more informal communication in the future.

Media Kit

You can also increase your chances of getting picked up in the press by making it as easy as possible for them to get the material they need to do a story. A media kit is your chance to put important pieces of information about images in one place. On a single page, we included:

  • performance dates and venue
  • a paragraph synopsis of the show
  • a link to the full press release
  • contact information
  • photos of the actors and director
  • show poster
  • large version of the AUP logo
  • link to the rehearsal photo
  • link to the blog posts about this production

Interview Questions

In preparation for the marketing material in the coming weeks, this was also the time to come up with interview questions for the actors. Their answers are going to provide a nice “about the actor” page for each one of them.

I sent the following questions to AUP. They may add/edit/remove any of these before sending on to the actors, but I thought this mix gave opportunities for the actors to demonstrate the thought they are putting into these roles.

  • Who is your character, and what’s challenging about bringing him/her to life?
  • What aspects of [character name] are part of the real [actor name]?
  • A big story with this script is that Albee felt compelled to return to this world after five decades to write an additional act. What do you think the new act adds to the complete story?
  • Albee has been quoted as saying, “What could be worse than getting to the end of your life and realizing you hadn’t lived it?” Does that idea show up in this work?
  • What is the audience going to be thinking about as they drive home after seeing this show?
  • Without giving anything away, what’s your favorite line of dialogue from the play?
  • How is this show different than other shows you’ve appeared in?

These questions are specifically for the written interview. In your own production you may decide to have your actors respond on video. That can be very effective, too. For AUP I’ve recommended that the videos we create for each actor center around their cast mates and the director talking about them. Social convention requires us to be somewhat modest when talking about ourselves, but we don’t have to hold back when we are praising the other people we’re working with.

Other Minutiae

There were other smaller bits of activity that happened this week. The link to buy tickets online when live, so the outgoing voice mail message on the box office phone line was updated with new information about purchasing tickets to this show.

When the Facebook event page was launched there was just a black and white image of the show’s title art, but that’s now been updated with a more fleshed out and visually interesting image that hints at the personal dynamics in the show. (above at top of post)

The show info was submitted to a few websites that have calendars for Indianapolis events.

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