When I started this blog, I was very new to the world of blogging. I still consider myself a novice after only ten weeks, but I have already been learning too much about public relations in the context of performing arts.
This blog has challenged me to take a closer look at performing arts events and analyze what was and was not successful about the way it was marketed and its public relations. There are so many opportunities for creative communication strategies in the industry. Once I started noticing these different aspects of public relations, I realized it’s all around us.
Here are a few lessons that I’ve taken away so far:
- Always keep learning – it is so important to keep up with industries that you’re passionate about. This blog challenged me to continue seeking out the latest news in the industry and analyze what the best response would be.
- Variety is the spice of life – a bunch of posts that are all basically just essays can look pretty boring to the average reader. Finding ways to switch up the style and layout of posts made my blog a lot easier to read and more interesting.
- Go with the flow – I made a personal social media plan for the whole term to make it easier on myself, but as I did more research, new stories would inspire new blog posts. I found myself straying away from my original plan, which was alright because I was coming up with new ideas.
- Try finding a unique angle – Looking at performing arts from a public relations perspective is already a little niche, but it is far more interesting the regurgitating the information that I’ve found in my research. Adding your own voice and perspective are critical to building your personal brand.
(I don’t work for the Roundabout Theatre Company. This was an assignment that required a hypothetical client)
Adam Driver, founder of Arts in the Armed forces recently announced a call to actors that served in the armed forces. The goal of this is to give veterans a space to voice their experiences with post-traumatic stress disorder.
“Providing space” in the arts for veterans is the main goal of the organization. The results of this could include expanding theatre audiences and bringing new perspectives to the stage.
Driver is personally connected to this cause because before he studied at Julliard, he served in the Marine Corps. Encouraging more veterans to express themselves using theatre will also fight stereotypes about veterans and cultural sophistication.
From a public relations perspective, it is smart for Driver to use his social influence to guide conversations about social issues toward his cause. His commitment to the organization makes it clear that this is much more than just a CSR project.
Adding an award element to the cause will give incentive for people to support the organization, and it will be encouraging to veteran actors. The key to that will be marketing the award in a way that will give it credibility and make it appealing to its audience. The inaugural Bridge Award grants $10,000 to help a veteran playwright produce a new play.
Also, getting press around this award will be beneficial for raising awareness, which is one of the most important aspects of this organization.
This past week, the composer of “Hamilton”, Lin Manuel Miranda, announced that the show will be traveling to Puerto Rico for a three-week run. The show was committed to travel there prior to the recent natural disasters in Puerto Rico, and now the show is fulfilling its commitment to a new mission.
Miranda made the statement, “In the aftermath of Maria we decided to expedite the announcement of the project to send a bold message that Puerto Rico will recover and be back in business, stronger than ever.”
This added a new element of corporate social responsibility. Miranda bringing his shows to Puerto Rico is nothing new, after bringing his previous show, “In the Heights”. However, this additional message is a profitable way of aiding the recovery of Puerto Rico. “Hamilton” will be performed in the
Lin Manuel Miranda will also be returning to the title role of Alexander Hamilton during the run Puerto Rico. This return will generate even more buzz around this story and ultimately for the show. Adding more shows in new places demonstrates how productions can expand their brands.
It would be interesting to see more theatre utilize corporate social responsibility in this way. Finding relevant causes to align with can bring more press and media coverage of the show, as well as showing what theatre can accomplish off the stage.
Now that the internet has grown into such a social sphere, it has made information more accessible than ever before. The arts can use this to their advantage by making it accessible to people who can’t get to prestigious museums.
Recently, the Met in New York has taken to social media to share its artwork and performances with their followers. It even uses Instagram Live to broadcast clips of performances, giving people a little teaser of what is there. This was a smart PR idea for these reasons:
- Giving people a taste of the art in the Met entices them to see it in person. That makes it beneficial for promotion too.
- Making art accessible to more people will improve attitudes toward the organization. A lot of people can’t get to the Met in New York, so this helps extend some of the experience to those people.
- Putting art on social media brings it into the 21st The Met is using the internet to spread messaging. Posting compelling art that’s easy for people to share is a great way to get the brand to more people.
ALSO, combining static and performing arts can be seen in popular culture and bringing it to a museum setting will attract younger audiences and putting it on social media is the fitting strategy to get them to see it.
This tactic could be helpful for various forms of art. It is becoming more and more important for art to meet patrons where they already are. Otherwise it can easy to get lost behind the messaging that is going directly to its audiences.
A critical part of public relations for performing arts venues is audience experience. So many different things could impact the experience in the venue. A bad experience could result in bad reviews which can easily chase people away.
Recently, I attended a performance by Kaki King at the Hult Center for the Performing Arts. The guitarist came to Eugene at the same time as the touring company of “Beautiful: The Carol King Musical,” which is hard to compete with as far as ticket sales.
While the performance was great, there were several promotional things that could be improved. So, I’ll lay out some things that artists should keep in mind if they find themselves in charge of their own promotions.
- Signs & Posters: Whether it’s on an isle or just posters, there should be some kind of indicator of the event to promote brand recognition. At the Hult Center, Kaki King didn’t have any posters, while the competing event had placed several throughout the lobby. It made it a little confusing as an audience member to see another event going on and almost like I was in the wrong place.
- Merchandise: If it’s going to be sold then there should be someone selling it. This performance had a table with a handful of merchandise strewn about the table with no one there to keep track of selling it. Someone could have easily just picked up the items without paying for them. Having someone to manage that would have been a lot more professional or wait until after the performance so the performer can do it themselves.
- Playbill/Program: Having a tangible program or some kind of flyer would have been helpful for this performance, in my opinion. If someone wanted to keep a digital program, maybe still hand out a flyer with the performer’s name on it that guides them to the digital program. That way they would still walk away with something that is connected to the brand.