As summer and nicer weather approaches, so do the possibilities of getting back to something resembling normal. Depending on your local safety restrictions, outdoor theatre, streamed or video-on-demand performances, and hybrid socially-distanced events are great ways to get your performers in front of an audience. But in our new normal, it's not enough to put up posters in your school or a mention in a weekly newsletter. Here are some of the simplest and highest-leverage spaces to promote your next production.
START IN YOUR OWN BACKYARD
Begin in your local community, then work your way outward. One great resource is other theatres and production companies. Contact program organizers, school groups, after-school programs, Facebook communities, clubs, and even assisted living programs. Consider offering group rates for blocks of patrons from local organizations who want to attend your show together. Building these connections with other communities dedicated to the arts will increase engagement (and ticket sales) throughout your season.
TRADE ADVERTISING SPACE
Purchase an ad in local newspapers or magazines. Working with a limited budget? Ask local newspapers and magazines to consider donating advertising space or running your ad in exchange for promotion in your show’s program. These "in kind" exchanges can open up a much wider potential audience for your theatre efforts!
GENERATE BUZZ ONLINE
…And not just on social media! Reach out to travel and review sites that feature your area and try listing your show as an attraction. Pro tip: set up a site for your organization or department, in addition to your show! That way, you can direct patrons to the same consistent link, year-round. You can include one never-changing link on all your email campaigns, print ads, and merch.
ADVERTISE WITH LOCAL BUSINESSES
Libraries, bookstores, cafes, supermarkets, and more provide bulletin boards for public announcements where you can display your show poster with permission from management. If you’re doing a TYA (Theatre for Young Audiences) show based on a well known Children’s book, bookstores may even welcome a performance by your cast members.
REACH OUT TO COLLEGES
If you’re producing a show with literary ties, historic relevance, or content that deals with topical issues of interest to any variety of disciplines, contact local colleges and see if their English, History, Cultural Studies, or Language Departments would like to arrange a group excursion. Offer student or group discounts.
FIND RELATED COMMUNITIES BY THEME
Promote your show in places that are thematically related to its content. Look for outside-the-box locations that tie in with the theme of your show, then talk to those business owners or community leaders about ways to partner.
NEWSLETTERS AND MESSAGE BOARDS
Many community centers, places of worship, and affinity groups publish newsletters or message boards (in-person or digital). Reach out to leadership to learn how you can promote your show to their community.
LOCAL TV OR RADIO
Get on the air. Promote your show live, on-air with an interview or short performance on your local morning news. To pitch an appearance, submit through the contact form for news tips or story ideas on your TV or radio station’s website. Be sure to include all the details about your production and offer an interview with you and one or two of your cast members, plus a one- to two-minute performance by a small portion of your cast. If you can’t travel to the studio, suggest an on-location shoot at your performance space.
SNEAK PEAK PERFORMANCE
Festivals and fairs, farmer’s markets, and open mic nights are always looking for local talent. Scout any local events that have an opportunity for performances and contact their coordinators as early as possible. Potential audience members are more likely to purchase tickets after seeing a preview of your show. You could even organize a flash mob scene or musical number in a public space (with the correct permissions, of course)!
DON’T FORGET TO LEAD WITH YOUR WEBSITE!
What good is all this work without seamless visual branding that attracts visitors to your website, where they can learn about the show, buy tickets, and buy merchandise? Your organization's presence online should deliver a high-quality and easy-to-use interface for your audience. On The Stage makes it easy for theatres to deliver a Broadway-quality experience from promotion and ticketing to audience engagement and merchandise sales. Check it out with a free, no-pressure demo.