Let’s be honest. With more than two thousand performances at Fringe, landing the coveted five-star rave review from The Scotsman is like running a marathon … backwards. In short: extremely difficult. We do not like to dash dreams around these parts, but it is the world’s largest arts festival and a daunting endeavor for everyone, including media members.
Most recommend hiring a PR professional, who has previous Fringe experience so they can focus on getting the media and you can focus on delivering the performance of a lifetime. But if that’s not possible, these pointers will help:
Start with Realistic Goals
At least four months ahead of the festival, get everyone together and talk goals. What you intend to accomplish at the Fringe dictates whether it is worth the money to hire a professional for PR.
Are you aiming for a four or five-star rave review from a major publication or will you be satisfied with a simple mention or two from bloggers? Start with clear, realistic and achievable targets. Keep in mind that in some cases, a write-up from a local publication leads to a review in a national one.
Make a Media Alert
A media alert details who, what, where, when, how of your performance. Strive for brief, well targeted and engaging. Don’t worry if you’re not a “big name,” because human interest stories and unique angles can be just as attractive. Maybe your whole troop is trekking to Edinburgh on unicycles or maybe you have a compelling tale about trying to clear customs with a performing python—figure out your hook, your story and tell it. Do the reporter’s work by giving an angle their editors and readers will love.
If you have past reviews, include copies or excerpts.
Create a Unique Value Proposition
- Out of all the performances (and there are A LOT) why should someone see your show?
- What makes your show worth the ticket price?
Add your unique value proposition to the title, description and headline of your release or put it into your pitch.
Use Objective Superlatives
Save the advertising copy for your flyers. Reporters crave provable facts. They cannot use: wildest, most creative, most fun, most ridiculous, most anything (same goes for best). Consider claims you can measure and back-up: only, largest, longest-running, award-winning.
Practice Careful Timing and Targeting
Do not wait. The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide advises, “your first wave of press packs should be sent just after the Fringe Programme launch.” Send out a lot of press packs, but put a lot of thought and time into each and follow each publication’s submission rules. Do not send out hundreds of press packs and hope one lands. Find out each publications’ audience and research journalists’ past Fringe reviews. What does he or she typically cover? Why would your story be of interest? Always submit your press materials the way he or she prefers. Do not call if they prefer email and do not hound them.
Presentation is everything and getting the reporter to read your release is half the battle. Assume that the publication will not send a photojournalist to your show. Include high-res photos and video clips. Have headshots at the ready so you do not lose a story or interview. And now is the time to let your creativity loose—send your press pack with a silly prop or put it into an eye-catching arrangement.
Attracting the media at Fringe is an uphill battle, but a worthy one. Take note of lessons learned and remember, there is always next year.