How To Successfully Market Your Theatre Production: Assembling The Right Team

By: Kat Harlton

I’ve spent the past 12 years buried in the entertainment industry. I’ve worked as an actor (stage and film) I’ve managed musical artists and set up tours, worked as an events and concerts promoter, been a marketing intern and an entertainment journalist. So when I saw the lack of material available for how to successfully market a theatre production, I felt I could help and decided to create my own series of blog posts with tips, inspiration and ideas.

We all know the key to being successful at anything is to have the right group of people working with you. So with that in mind, the first step to successfully marketing your theatre production is assembling the right team.

Step #1: Find A Marketing & Social Media Manager

Ideally this would be the same person and they would be in charge of all public facing material. Including but not limited to: flyers/posters, programs, online and print listings, interview requests and PR outreach, website management and social media accounts. This person will be crucial to your production’s success, and shouldn’t be hired lightly (even if they are a volunteer). Below are some things to check for before asking someone to take on this role:

Ask Them To Provide Social Media Handles: This is crucial. You’ll need to check their social media feeds and previous work (if they’ve had this type of role before). Things to consider:

Are They Responsible? Would you be willing to trust this person with your production’s image, brand and voice. Also keep in mind your social media accounts will be reflective of the festival, town, sponsors or event your production is associated with.

Are They Socially Aware? Do they know what’s appropriate to post on social media and what’s not? This includes but is not limited to: racist, sexist, explicit or politically incorrect comments or material. The last thing you want is public backlash over a 140 character tweet that was ‘misinterpreted’

Find Out Which Social Media Platforms They Know How To Use: I would consider Facebook and Twitter the absolute basics. However if you can find someone who also knows how to use Facebook live, Snapchat, or Instagram Stories that would be ideal.

Ask About Their Website Management Experience: Do they have experience creating and/or updating a website. (Ex.if you’re using WordPress, are they familiar with it?) Do they know how to properly attribute photos or material taken from other sources? Do they know how to re-size images? Are they familiar with SEO? (We’ll go into this further in a future blog post)

Ask About Their Schedule: Do they have other commitments during the run of your production? This could include other jobs, personal appointments, pre-booked vacation time or family commitments. Really what it comes down to is, do they have the time to do this properly?

The hours before and after your production will be especially important as this will be when your audience will be posting and sharing about your show and social interaction will be at it’s highest.

Ask For Examples Of PR Communication: Do they know how to write a basic press release? How to send out an email asking for an interview request? How to forward materials properly (such as using Dropbox) or how make a media kit?

Step #2: Be Clear About The Social Roles & Responsibilities Of The Cast and Crew

Obviously your cast and crew should be hired based on their talent and job performance. However for your production to be marketed successfully, it’d be ideal to have everyone on your team willing to take part and own responsibility for their own social media feeds.

I would recommend that all cast and crew have at least Facebook and Twitter. Although if they have Instagram and Twitter or Facebook and Snapchat or any other combination that would work too.

I’d hold a quick meeting and go over the basics, which are similar to ones listed for the social media manager above.

Make Sure They Know What’s Appropriate To Post To Social: Have them remove anything they may have recently posted that might be inappropriate

Make Sure They Are Aware Of Social Campaign Tactics: These could include a play or festival specific hashtag or Snapchat filter. I’d also give a quick demo on how to use them.

Make Sure They Are Aware Of Embargoes: If there is anything they shouldn’t be posting about the production (such as a surprise ending, sponsored content, contests etc) make sure to give them a list.

Remind Them To Interact: Re-tweet, share and like good reviews or mentions, to say thank-you and to reach out to users who enjoyed their performance.

Provide Them With Material: I’d also provide the team with the following:
-A link to the website
-A link to buy tickets or promo codes
-Campaign material they are allowed to share: posters, images, videos etc

Remind Them Not To ‘Spam’ Their Followers: ‘Spamming’ followers with multiple posts in a short period of time can get you banned from most social networks, and is an annoying user experience for friends and followers. Instead have them strategically share the campaign content provided above.

Hopefully the above tips should get you started on building your theatre dream team, and have you thinking about your marketing plan.

Our next post will cover creating and managing your production’s website and how to optimize the experience for your site’s visitors.

Have questions? Thoughts? leave a comment below.

Originally published at harltonempire.com on June 20, 2017.