Getting your event into print
Why do some press releases appear in print or online almost immediately and others get delayed or not appear at all? This is by no means an authoritative guide. Hell no. But we are on the receiving end of an awful lot of publicity material so we get to see the good, the bad and the ugly. If you will humour us for a moment we will go through our observations.
We have all missed live shows over the past year. The email box has also been eerily quiet. Fortunately things will be reopening soon. When it does start the creatives out there will need an audience and so they’ll need to publicise their event. Many people are doing it themselves. Given the costs this is understandable. There are some things that you can do which will help the word go out.
We spotted many of these back in our radio days. As our show was on the air we could see the press releases and announcements coming in the station’s email inbox. Some were very well made and easy to use, others were awfully cryptic.
Now you might say “I have given you the information, surely you now need to use this to write your own story”. Fair point but then you should not be surprised when the local paper ignores your event. Most newspapers now have very small staff teams and they, like us, prefer copy that can drop straight in, with little adjustment. We know this is the case, as we have read many a press release in our newspapers, and on their websites, that we have also received and which have been copied verbatim by the local press. We do it too. It is a time thing.
This is not an exhaustive list. It isn’t a definitive list. It may be a pretentious list. Who knows?
Please don’t send a secure PDF. Your press release does not need to be secure. The whole point is that you want the recipient to be able to copy it. We are not fans of PDF press releases. A normal doc is preferred.
Do include at least one image with your release. This could be a link to a folder in the cloud (Dropbox, OneDrive etc). Images make a story fly. We like images. Images help circulation figures. More people will see your story if there is an image.
Please give your photographer credit. We like to give credit to all creatives involved.
PLEASE DON’T WRITE LINE UPON LINE IN CAPITAL LETTERS. IT IS A REAL PAIN IN THE NECK. YOU’RE NOT WRITING THE HEADLINE FOR A TABLOID.
Start the press release with clear information about your event. Who, where, when etc.
Include some quotes from those involved. Why are you doing this show? How do you feel about it? Please don’t just ask if we would like to interview the team.
At the end of your release it is an idea to have a brief summary for listings. We know that you’ve probably said it already but it does make life easier and increases the chance of a listing. Ideally: what, where (including address if it is not a regular venue), when, starting time, ticket price, ticket purchasing details.
You’d be surprised how many releases we get that neither feature a ticket link nor a website address for readers to follow up their interest. The benefit of writing an online article is that you can send the potential customer to the direct ticket page with a single click. The fewer clicks that the customer has to press between reading the article and landing on the ticket page the better - they are more likely to buy tickets.
In addition to a direct ticket link you will want to give a link to a more general page - your website and/or social media channel(s). Please give a working link rather than just @thisismyusername.
Despite what we said in point 6: do state if anyone is available for interview. Also do say if there is a publicity photography/filming opportunity, or if press tickets are available for a review. If you offer press tickets then please ensure the review gets a listing of the cast and creatives (this could be a copy of the programme, though it doesn’t have to be).
Write the main text of the press release as you’d expect to read it in the newspaper. If you write it in first person then someone has to go through it and change the text. This takes time and reduces the chance of publication. The publicitists who effectively write the article in the third person are the ones we spot in the papers.
Keep dates simple and in full. Monday 17th June 2021 is preferred to Mon 17 Jun or Monday the 17th June. Why do people put “the” in dates on press releases? We have never fathomed that one out.
Don’t send the press release out last minute. In normal times we are often out reviewing (or doing the day job) most nights and so we need time to plan when we are putting previews out. There is not much we can do if you send it to us the night before and we are out covering another show.
Do get to know us. The north east is a small place. We are nice people. We want culture in the north east to succeed. We are not a faceless mega-corp. We also have family and day jobs that sometimes turn into night jobs and that can mean we don’t get to see your event. Sorry about that. Hopefully we will get to see you next time.
We’ll never forget the publicity person hired in by a smaller theatre that wrote us a snotty message suggesting that we had missed the press night for their panto as we must have gone to the big panto in Newcastle. In actual fact it was a parent’s evening at school that night, and we had sent out wonderful guest reviewers to both the small theatre and the big show in town.
We have written this to help people. Hopefully it will work and you’ll sell out even if you did all of the publicity yourself.