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Getting Publicity for a High School Theatre Event

advice, actions plans, tactics, and guidance on how to write a news release to media that will get publicity in radios, nespapers, and tv for a high school theatre performance

I received a question about how one should best get publicity for a high school theatre event.  Here’s my suggestion:

You can write localized event news release and send it to your local media.

Offer the media the opportunity to come to a tech week rehearsal and take pictures and ask questions to the key players.

Write the news release so it has plenty of human interest and identifies the times, costs of tickets, show venue locations and local phone and email for ticket information.

Get a targeted custom media list and send out the news release three weeks before the show so newspapers, radio and TV have plenty of lead time. Call and follow up to get the media interested in doing a feature story.

That’s the basics steps. Here’s more information and explanation to help you really understand what to do to getr the maximum response and achieve success and a real return on investment.  


A custom targeted localized publicity campaign can bring get you media coverage in the newspapers, and on radio and TV for your local events. You can conduct the campaign so that you drive people to your event and also get feature stories which talk about your event. Both will improve sales.

You need to provide certain information in your news release when you do this:

WHAT the event is all about
WHO is doing the talking
WHAT the key person is going to talk about or do (booksigning or talk or speech or seminar…)
WHEN (exact times)
WHERE your events are going to be located including the address (even specific directions) of the venues
HOW to attend with cost (if any) and the local contact information (who to call and a phone)
WHY is it going to be interesting and important
AND WHO is going to be most interested.

You can create one well written news release which identifies the event or events AND offers some feature story content, substantive information or tips so you address print media editor interests, and indicates what the key local people can talk about and why people will be interested in the subject and thye key players so it addresses the needs of radio show, radio stations, and tv show producers and guest hosts in the selected target areas.

Now this next point is of critical importance. The real key to being successful in doing this city by city is to think hard and create a “local news angle” or a community involvement element of some sort event, and let the media know what this is in the news release.

A local news angle is one which features a local citizen, event, activity, problem, or concern, or benefit. Thus, if you send a news release to New York City the release should contain something of specific interest to people in New York City.

You add in the community involvement element by thinking up ways to interest or help a larger number of people in a specific group, organization, or needy sector of society. You can enhance the public interest this way, get more people to come because of the networking that can occur within a group of people who are interested in a topic.

This can be one of the most difficult ideas to implement effectively. It often takes some real creativity if you don’t know anyone who can act as a local focal point or subject of interest for a community involvement activity. So brainstorm and do some research. Use the Internet, and phone book to identify a local participant who would like to share some publicity with you. Then call someone, or a company or organization to ask if they would participate somehow meaningfully. Often times it’s a simple as a club, a church group, a school, a teacher’s class, a PTA group, a women’s shelter, or a non-profit group of some type.

You can call ahead and make the arrangements, get the quote, the local case study, or problem analysis. Get a local to review the play or show, say how they got a lot out of it or how it helped people grow or helped someone through some difficult time, or just how they enjoyed it.

You can get other people incolved by sending a request for comment to the mayor, or to a Principal, or president of a volunteer organization, or charity or self help group Do what you need to but come up with a hard local news angle which shows that your event touches the lives of others.

Add this element in to the formula and tie it in to the performance event.

You use the local news angle in your “local” news release.

Then you add digital photos and send the news release in html.

Newspaper editors in particular really love when you do this for them because it fits in with what they prefer to publish more than anything else they do. The media response rate for news releases with a local community involvement news angle and photos is the highest of any type of news release I send. You get more interviews and more publications.

Getting publicity for events like a high school performance is easy with a good action plan. It often makes the difference between a hum-drum event and a super-successful event and lots of associated ticket sales. You need to respect media lead time so that the artciles come out in the week before the performance.

Here are some of the lessons learned I’ve picked up from conducting publicity campaigns with fax and e-mail.
You can follow and innovate these steps to follow for planning, implementing and leveraging publicity before, during and after performance event:

1. Lay out your schedule identifying points of contact which will work both in advance of the event, and while at the event, so media can contact you before hand, and on short notice.

2. Prepare a one page release describing who, where, when, why, what, why it is important, and why it’s going to be a great event and who to contact. You can use one press release per location or one press release for multiple locations, depending on how you select your media list and transmission schedule. Make sure you localize your news release to the maximum extent possible, to show the media the event has significant local readership and editorial interest.

3. Create a custom targeted media list covering the daily and weekly newspapers, news services and syndicates, radio and tv stations and shows (talk shows by subject, news feature and news) in the market areas at your event locations. Research and consider sending the release to magazines in the market areas because they can result in publicity with a long term effect, long after the event.

4. Send out your first news release three to even as many as six weeks before the event. For daily and weekly newspapers, target the calendar editors, metro editors, and the feature editors. If appropriate, also target the specialty editors that cover your field.

5. Follow up by phone with the most important media on your list at each event location, to achieve coverage of the event at each location and to invite the media to come to the event, or interview with people before, at, or even after the event. Invite feature editors to come to the event. Offer tailored articles, interviews, and site visits if your schedule allows.

6. Send out a last news release seven to ten days before the event, and follow up once again, to get and confirm media attendance or interviews.

7. Conduct the event and do the interviews. Treat the media in attendance very special. If they came in response to your release, thank them and make it worth their while. Give them media kits (with a copy of your news rleease, bios on key people and photographs) if you haven’t already done so. Be quick to take advantage of an opportunity to get more publicity, or better media coverage.

8. Sometimes you can and should send out a final news release on or immediately after the event to leverage the event . The event itself is news. This release should be a short article which summarizes the high points of the event and provides contact information and the opportunity to get on a list for the next event. Make it easy for the media to do a feature story about the event just as if they were there reporting the event.

9. Call to say thank you to media contacts for the coverage and to request tear sheets. Offer additional information, articles, or interviews by phone as appropriate.

You need to try as hard as you can to create a socially relevant event – a cultural experience that generates word of mouth. Make sure that you seek a balance where you position your author as an expert or a helpful champion of the locals, a facilitator of change. Educate, entertain, inform, and motivate the people in the audience at the event. Give the media photo opportunities to visually capture local people experiencing real emotion. One great picture of a child or a person exhibiting a dramatic and personal feeling will galvanize the reading public to action and result in more sales.

You can get event publicity when the event is free easier than when there is a fee involved. But a reasonable attendance fee is not a killer to getting publicity. It will reduce media willingness to provide coverage depending on who will be interested and benefit from the event.

Bottom line. You can reach out and do event publicity quite easily if only you create a plan and implement it. It’s not hard to do, and it need not cost an arm and a leg.

If you need help with your event publicity releases, send me an email and I can send you a few examples of what a successful event news release should look like.

One last thing – plan ahead, act in a timely manner, don’t wait till the last minute. Pay attention to your lead times. Otherwise the event just will not get the integrated media publicity that it deserves.

Paul J. Krupin
Direct Contact PR
Reach the Right Media in the Right Market with the Right Message… 800-457-8746 509-545-2707

Posted on Friday, February 8th, 2008 at 8:58 pm In
copywriting, news releases