The PassionPit
Published in

The PassionPit


POPULARITY is governed by PERCEPTION, which is fueled by PROMOTION.

Observations by Jay Michaels, a leading press agent and production consultant for indie theater & film

We live in a fascinating time thanks to the internet. EVERYONE, whether you know it or not, is an influencer. How many have been through a conversation that went like this…

“Did you see that movie… it’s really great!”

“Oh yeah, did you see it?”

“Not yet, but I will.”

“Then now do you know its great?”

“Somebody told me”


“I don’t remember”

Here’s the twist, we are ALL that “somebody.”

Now let’s look at my PR equation backwards…

PROMOTION: the more you speak about something, the more real and even urgent it becomes to others who hear about it. It prompts them to tell even more people for two reasons — to share some interesting info and second — believe it or not — to validate their own opinion. By sharing how “great” something is, the speaker is enhancing their social media connections and in some ways even enhancing their [perceived] knowledge.

This creates the PERCEPTION not only that the speaker is a knowledgeable source but that their information is valued thus reliable. What’s that old shampoo commercial … “and they tell two friends and so on, and so on, and so on.”

Now, when enough people are sharing the news that something is great, it goes from being one thing to being the needed item, the trending, the hot ticket, the one to see, etc. It becomes “great.” Thus, you guessed it, it goes from intimate to POPULAR.

Michael Grunwald was an historian on Elizabethan England. According to his historical works, Richard III was a much maligned, but great ruler… with a bad case of Scoliosis. William Shakespeare painted R3 as a hunchbacked, blood-thirsty monster. So much so that aside from definitive Olivier and McKellen versions, even a horror movie in the 40s was made with Basil Rathbone playing R3 as a ghoul with Boris Karloff as his henchman!

Why is this?

By rights, Grunwald, an ACTUAL historian, should be ruling out concept of the King.

But Shakespeare seemed to have a better publicist [wink]

Now let’s take it one more step. Do you NOW think Richard III was an OK guy just got a bad rap, or do you continue thinking the way The Bard told you? This is where your own perceptions are solidified by promotion. Imagine if you were — for your entire life — that the thing you’re sitting on is called an ice cream cone. For all your time — 15, 20, 25, 45, 65 years, that’s what it is called. Then one day someone says “it’s a chair.” Would you believe them?

Artists — on the level for which I work — indie theater — rarely tell their friends about their productions. They “hope” they see the image they put on Facebook or that one lone tweet. When people attend their shows they say “I’m doing this for exposure” or “we hope it gets ‘picked-up.’ ” So the audience sees only the folding chairs or lack of costuming and not the brilliant messages underneath. They see the old theater as — well — an old theater. Imagine if we sang our own praises to all? If we shouted out our new work to the world? Audiences would think they’re going to an art exhibit of a deep thinking artisan on-the-rise. That’s what the original off-off Broadway movement accomplished.

So many playwrights, directors, and producers wait for the “real papers” to “pick them up” when there is literally a universe of supportive and well-read blogs and sites that admire and extol the work — and world — of the indie artisan. A warming fire is many bits of light dancing together — and far more satisfying than one big soon-to-vanish flash.

It works in real estate.

Proud of your work? Tell the world… get others to do that too.

Watch what happens.



Articles and Interviews about — and with — independent theatre & film professionals

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Jay Michaels

Prof. Jay Michaels lectures on communications & media culture nationwide. He is executive director of Channel I — an indie theater & film network of programs.