This work involves managing or assisting in promoting the productions, services and public image of the theatre company. But the role itself may be difficult to define, since in many theatre companies the responsibilities listed below are assigned to more than one person. For example, a company may have one person in charge of marketing, to whom is given the responsibility of the season brochure and advertising, while a publicist handles promotion of individual shows (including ads and contacting print and electronic media with story suggestions, news releases, and calendar information).
Because of the differences in duties from company to company, it's important to understand the various aspects of marketing.
Most people think that marketing refers specifically to the advertising and/or selling of productions or services. Actually, these are near the tail-end of the marketing process.
In general, marketing activities are all those associated with identifying the particular wants and needs of a target market of customers, and then going about satisfying those customers better than your competitors. (In the case of theatre, the competition could be TV, school activities, golf, movies, the Internet or video games, as well as offerings by other theatre companies.)
This involves doing market research on your customers, analyzing their needs, and then making strategic decisions about which productions to offer (individually or as a season), as well as ticket pricing and promotion.
Publications may include an in-house newsletter, a patron newsletter (sometimes these two are combined), a season brochure, and brochures about the company and its services (such as educational programs, youth theatre, etc.). In some companies, the season brochure is the responsibility of the marketing person, while the newsletter or brochures are handled by the publicity or public relations person. In other companies, one person handles all these tasks. Publications may be either print or electronic.
As opposed to advertising, public relations seeks to gain awareness and positive image for a company and its offerings without an exchange of money. And, while PR usually entails the use of publicity and media relations (below), it takes a much broader view than simply promoting a particular production or service. Most small theatre companies have a publicity person, whose job is to heighten awareness of individual productions, in order to sell as many tickets as possible. A larger company would have a PR or promotions person who works closely with the marketing manager (in some cases, marketing and PR are handled by the same person), so that information about individual productions is not only consistent, but meshes with the overall image the company wishes to project.
The publicity person is most often tasked with promoting of specific productions, events or services, and normally serves as the contact person for all media inquiries.
Advertising means paying someone to bring your productions or services to the attention of potential and current customers through materials you create yourself or pay to have designed--advertisements in newspapers or on television or radio; signs; direct mailings; or e-mail messages. "Paying" can refer to money, but also to trades of goods and services.
Depending on how your company divides up the above areas of responsibilities, you may be asked to do one or more of the following:
- Research the attitudes and opinions of the public as relates to the company and its offerings.
- Using this research, help shape the company season in partnership with the artistic director or other person(s) responsible for choosing individual shows or an entire season.
- Write, edit and produce newsletters, brochures, direct marketing pieces and other printed material.
- Create and determine publicity/press relations plan to generate continued greater awareness for the company and support any overall marketing initiatives.
- Assist marketing director by serving as another spokesperson within the arts community as needed.
- Develop communication objectives and communication plans
- Identify the most important audiences, and decide what to communicate to them and the best media to use
- Examine the media for issues that affect the company
- Write and implement communication or promotional plans
- Cultivate and maintain media contacts in order to generate relevant stories, interviews and other media coverage for the company.
- Solicit, arrange and organize media interviews (print, radio and TV) for general stories about the company
- Work with other organizations and provide information to them.
- Organize and/or promote promotional events and conferences
- Keep staff and patrons up to date with company news.
- Write news releases, articles, calendar listings, and public service announcements (PSA's), ensuring consistency and accuracy.
- Distribute news releases to media
- Field and respond to media inquiries generated by those releases, or regarding a specific production or event.
- Provide the public with information when it is requested
- Solicit, arrange and organize media interviews (print, radio and TV) for productions or about the company in general.
- Coordinate and oversee photo sessions for public relations and marketing purposes.
- Coordinate handling of reviewers, including contacting them, securing comp tickets, and compiling press packets.
- Oversee the archiving of all press clippings, video clips, radio tapes and photo library.
- Responsible for design and/or placement of ads
- Maintain and update the company's website, or work closely with the person who does this.
It's a good idea to familiarize yourself with the roles of all the other people you'll be working with, or whose work affects your own.
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