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Working with Online Media

Pete Shaw (Publisher, BroadwayBaby .com and founder member of the Festival Media Network)

Online media has changed dramatically over the last few years, transforming from the simple publication of reviews on the web to syndicated and collaborative dynamic content that can be delivered in multiple different formats, platforms and distribution methods. The web allows you to connect with your audience using video, audio and interactive content – it isn’t restricted to the confines of one-way text and images of traditional media. It requires you to explore new ways of marketing, and those that engage potential ticket buyers the best will ultimately sell the most tickets.

the job of resizing that image onto the publication. As the Festival gets closer, time to do those jobs gets less and less. Simple things like that can make the difference between your show being featured or not.

You should also consider how you present your press release. Online media rarely have the luxury of staff writers, which means your description of the show is normally what will make it online should the editor choose to feature it. If that description is poorly written, too full of flowery superlatives or just doesn’t contain information that is relevant to your production, it’s less likely to make the cut.

But to fully exploit this online Nirvana you need to first get the basics right. Understand, for instance, that the majority of publications have a very limited workforce, mostly volunteers and are all doing about eight jobs at once. So when you’re sending information through to any site, you’ll get the best results if you send material in the format it has been requested. Most sites will have an FAQ section which will outline what is needed and where to send it. For example, few websites need images bigger than 500px wide – so sending press-resolution images not only clogs up an inbox, but also moves

Your press release should tell the reader enough about the show for them to know what it is, who is staging it, where, when and why someone should see it. Consider also the format that you present that text in. PDFs may allow you to format your press release in an attractive style, but copying text out of PDFs presents line break problems that create extra work. With more than 2000 shows to deal with, extra work is not something to relish. Plain text documents are much easier to deal with than PDFs, and plain text in the body of your email with a right-sized image attached is even better.

With the basics under your belt, you should then start to leverage some of the other technologies the web can offer your show. Film a video preview and upload it to YouTube, Facebook and Festival Previews. Content sent to Festival Previews will will automatically be shared around other online media sites like Broadway Baby, ThreeWeeks and even the iPhone App, iFringe, through the Festival Media Network. If you have songs as part of your production, record those and get them onto your own site.

Publish the occasional rehearsal shot on Twitter and publish your own Twitter feed on your own site. Go through Wikipedia and make sure any biographies of your notable cast or crew have information of

your new production. Encourage your audience to submit their own reviews of your show to Broadway Baby and EdFringe.com.

For a publication like Broadway Baby, our resources mean we can generally only cover about 20% of the productions staged in Edinburgh in any one year. Deciding which shows to cover involves many different factors, and the ones that you can influence are the presentation of your material and the amount of ‘buzz’ you have generated in advance that makes yours the ‘must see show’.

Go as ‘digital’ as your resources can manage, because – luckily – most of it is free to use, so it’s just your precious time you need to invest.



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