Over the last month and a bit I have been assisting with publicity and media relations activities for Adelaide Theatre Company ‘EARLY WORX in theatre and art’.
The Early Worx Company will be presenting three shows for this year’s Adelaide Fringe Festival, and my main job has been to assist in gaining as much publicity for these three shows as possible in the lead up to the official start of the festival.
I was eager to involve myself in this project as I knew it would mean that I would gain experience communicating directly with members of the media.
But, at the time I’d put my hand up to volunteer my assistance, my god I had very little idea of the challenges that would lie ahead of me…
Ordinarily, I think Adelaide has a bit of a reputation for being a quiet and relaxing city – that is of course until March madness comes rolling into town.
This year, there will be a whopping 923 shows or events being showcased as a part of the Adelaide Fringe Festival – the largest arts festival in the southern hemisphere, and the second largest Fringe Festival in the world.
I have been looking after only three of these many shows and events that have and will all be competing for similar publicity and media coverage as I have been with Early Worx.
Not to mention, that Adelaide’s festival season consists of a variety of festivals & events on top of the Fringe, including WOMADelaide, the Adelaide Festival of Arts, and then there is also the popular Adelaide Clipsal 500 event at the beginning of the month.
With so much going on, I found out very quickly that it would be a struggle to even get a hold of the journalist or editor I was after, let alone convince them to write a story that was newsworthy enough for their audiences.
After sending out individually crafted emails along with the Early Worx media release to a whole myriad of journalists, magazine editors, and bloggers (that was the easy part), I then started to make my follow up calls.
At the end of my first day of follow up calls, I felt like a bit of a failure… I’d kept getting put through to people’s voicemail, and for some publications I couldn’t even get past speaking to their receptionist – they just kept telling me that the people I was after were in meetings or just too busy.
But, I persevered. On my next attempt I spoke to quite a friendly magazine editor who was also very honest with me as he explained that with 923 shows in the Fringe my chances of getting an Early Worx article published was slim. Even though my chances weren’t great he said that he would take the time to look over the media release again and try his best. Along with his friendliness and honestly, ‘his best’ was just what I needed and my chat with him gave me a new found confidence that I was able to use in my future approaches.
From then on, I was able to help organise for three of EARLY WORX’s artists (one from each show) to be interviewed for the LinkAdelaide blogging site, this resulted in podcasts of these interviews being audible online.
Another one of the performers was interviewed by the Hills & Valley Messenger, resulting in an article being published in the Hills & Valley Messenger Newspaper as well as on the publication’s online site.
Charles Sanders, the EARLY WORX Artistic Director and creator of the company was also interviewed by online news organisation ‘Our World Today’ after I had been in contact with them, resulting in another news article appearing online.
In addition to these interviews and articles being achieved prior to the Fringe starting, I have also assisted in confirming reviewers from magazines to come in and share their thoughts of the shows with their audiences. The first review has already come through with a 5 star rating and is now available on the ‘Adelaide Theatre Guide’ website.
This whole experience has been a big learning experience for me. I may have not achieved a huge amount of publicity, but I am still proud of my efforts and confident that the coverage I did achieve will help the Early Worx ticket sales in some way.
I have done similar media relations activities and work experience in the past, but those experiences have not occurred at a time when so many other competitors were around, nor did they require as much work and perseverance as this experience has.
So what lessons have I learnt?
Firstly: perseverance is important.
And secondly: be confident when communicating with the media – as a wise person once told me ‘they are just people too’.