As a theatre reviewer, I oftentimes work directly with PR reps and publicists to get opening night invitations, press tickets, photos, media events, press releases, etc. For the most part, my experiences with these groups have been just fine. However, recently I’ve encountered some issues and trends that need addressing:
Bad publicity shots: A picture says a thousand words. If you want to represent your show with amateurish imagery, then you are just shooting yourself in the foot. First impressions always are the most important. Furthermore, sending low-res or small files really limits the use of the picture. You can always make a big picture/file smaller, but not the reverse.
No fact sheet: Along with a press release and Playbill in the press kit, it’s always very helpful, particularly when running on deadline, for a reviewer to scan a fact sheet for venue name and address, dates, director, cast, etc — without having to pour through a creatively written press release. Only two theatres have offered fact sheets that I’ve noticed. A simple thing, but a major help.
Spamming/shilling: I recently had a slew of shilly comments posted on my blog relating to Cirque du Soleil’s new show Banana Shpeel. Things like: “I can’t wait for Banana Shpeel to arrive in Chicago! And you’re in luck! A great deal on tickets can be found here…!” And I wasn’t alone.
I’ve made contact with Shpeel‘s spokesperson regarding this matter, and she quickly replied, stating that she wasn’t aware of the spamming/shilling and would look into it. So far, so good.
(However, the cynical side of me thinks this was, in fact, part of Shpeel‘s marketing scheme, and it backfired.)
My point? Using social media and blogs to shill your show is not only annoying, it’s ineffective. We aren’t morons here. We can smell a marketing ploy a mile away.
No final confirmation emails: Countless of times I’ve had to take the lead in sending confirmation request emails to PR contacts to ensure I had a ticket waiting for me at the box office. Common sense, right? Which leads me to…
No press tickets: Three times I’ve arrived at a show to review, and no tickets were under my name due to some error on their behalf. I’ve had to pull up the confirmation they sent me on my bberry to get in.
Pissy publicists: Without naming names, I’ve come to learn that a certain publicist is giving me a hard time in arranging a date to review a show s/he’s representing simply because s/he didn’t like recent reviews posted for other shows s/he represents on a certain entertainment site I contribute to. Mind you, these reviews s/he takes issue with I haven’t even written.
I’ve come to learn this isn’t an uncommon occurrence in the industry.
I find it completely unprofessional to be offended by a review for a show you’re representing. Your job as a publicist is to invite the critics and promote the show, not serve as gatekeeper to those sites or critics who you feel will give your show a good or a bad review. If your show stinks or has issues, it’s the critic’s job to call them out in such a way that lets the reader determine if they want to buy a ticket for the show.
Anything you’d like to add to this list?