Wednesday, 18 February 2015

How to get on The Vile Arts' Shit List

I regard myself as a gentle soul, prone to occasional tantrums. The gentle soul has removed all references to specific companies: the tantrum begins now. 

1. Forget to send me a press release.
There is nothing that I love more than finding out about a production via a poster on the wall at the CCA, or a post on Facebook. It makes me feel that you really care about the media, and that you want to receive some kind of review or preview to help you sell tickets and raise your public profile. The only thing you could do to make me even more enthusiastic about your work is to moan that the media are ignoring you, because they haven't featured you in their publications. 

Alternatively: send me a polite email - and follow it up if I don't reply - and use my guide to The List's listing process to get my attention.

2. Send me a pdf press release.
There is a metric ton of churnalism on my blog, and it allows me to tinker vaguely with design when I am warming up to write an article. So it's totes amazeballs when I get a document that I cannot cut and paste: make it at least five pages long, with quotes from everyone involved, because I love trying to work out how to extract the information. Don't add an image, because I would much rather trawl through Google images to find a thumbnail of you. And if you must send an image, make sure it's the same one everyone else has.  
Alternatively: send a range of images and a brief, precise description with dates and extra material on the event underneath, and offer to do an interview via email. And include it in the body of the email, not just as an attachment.

3. Assume that I don't like to be bothered.
I just sit at my desk all day, and never do things like go to
Sunderland for a comic convention, or Edinburgh to cover a festival. So if I don't reply to your email in a day, don't follow it up. I am a tyrant who makes snap decisions, and reminding me of an event via email is much less likely to succeed than relying on me going through my backlog and emails and making another snap decision.
Alternatively: wait a week, and if you have not heard from me, send a follow up (ideally resend the original with a note). I am not promising anything, but I do my best to support as many endeavours as I can. 

4. Refuse to tweet or Facebook my posts.
Because there is clearly no way I can track this by looking at the analytics of my blog. I never see a spike in traffic to a particular post when companies bother their ass - certainly not up to five times as many hits if something goes out on Facebook. I write to indulge my vanity, not in an attempt to reach audiences with information that might be of interest, and tweeting it will only add to the dangers of letting people know about your event.
Alternatively: tweet your own article and anything else that you think might be of interest on my blog as often as you remember. Show generosity to other company's post - maybe even engage in a conversation with some of my other posts, mentioning your own work.

5. Don't have a dedicated press person.
It is always much better to leave publicity to chance, rather than have one person who takes responsibility for a press releases and organising chat. The optimum way is for the director to be in charge of everything, because they have so much spare time. Good forbid that you might organise a strategy for engaging with the media, who only want to come along and slag off your efforts anyway.
Alternatively: regard the press responsibility as being as important as the acting, and get someone to do it. Professional companies hire someone. If you are working on a volunteer or amateur basis, have auditions for a press liaison or ask a spear carrier to take control of it.


On a final note: these tips are a sardonic reminder that I like content AND the only reason that your work is not on my blog is the failure to work a little harder on it. By theatre companies.

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