My Journey in Publicity

Jennifer Butler

  • OnStage Massachusetts Columnist

At the start of this year, my community theater needed someone to take on the job of Publicity Coordinator. This job included writing and submitting press releases, distributing show posters around town, and maintaining the theater’s Facebook page with updates. 

Most things on the Publicity Coordinator’s to-do list were things I had never done before. But publicity has been a small interest of mine ever since I took a journalism class in college.  And with the added fact that I am a writer, I willingly volunteered to take all of this on.

The person that I took this over from was gracious enough to share with me all of her past notes, knowledge on the best way to write, samples of what she had done and the press releases she had submitted to the local newspapers. It was a great jumping off point for me and still a great resource that I can go to if something new arises. 

Currently I am working on my third show as the main publicity person and I finally feel like I am figuring this all out.  I have learned to make a plan so I am not doing things last minute. My second show was a bit overwhelming because of the number of cast members involved. It was only a cast of 11 but it was the biggest show that I worked on at this theater.  This was such a fun production yet really tested my ability to stay organized and to keep track of a lot of information. I actually created a filing system and an excel spreadsheet on my computer to help me keep track of everything. I am using the same system on the show that I am currently working on and plan on using it in the future. 

I feel as though this is one of those things that I will get better at with time and that has been proven true. The words seem to come easier and I am able to get more creative with things such as cast bios and Facebook postings. However, the toughest challenge that I am still facing is captioning out press release photos. The snappy captions are just not there when trying to find the right words to describe what is happening. 

I have learned to use social media, Facebook in particular, on a whole new level. What will garner attention and help get people to the theater to see the show?  As it is now, so much happens online. We are living in a social media age and I need to learn as quickly as possible how to use this to our advantage. What I came to find out from marketing people, and from tracking my posts, is that the posts that are quick and to the point, the ones that have some photo or action to go along with them are the ones that will get the most views. I tend to end most of our Facebook posts with the link to the website where they can get more information about our shows or purchase tickets. 

What I have come to realize throughout this year is that publicity, though it can be tough, it can also be rewarding. When I found out that someone came to see the show because of the photo I helped place in the paper, or a poster that I put up around the town, it makes my hard work well worth it. Though it’s a collective effort to put on a show, I personally think that knowing I helped contribute to a successful show, even a little bit, makes all the hard work worth it when the audience enjoys the performance.  And that makes me excited to work on the next production and in theater in general.