As I have pondered this subject, several publicity chairpersons with whom I have the pleasure of working with have brought their local practices to my attention.
Jim Berry in Palm Springs, California puts a season package together at the kick-off of their campaign, containing an EPK and brochures. They also include stories about their cooperative efforts with the local Rotary Club. During the season they follow up with announcements about the outreach program and a pair of tickets to every show (never hesitate to offer tickets to local reporters!).
Janet Feiler in Kellogg, Idaho also creates a separate press release about outreach events and their interaction with local schools and concert association’s support of arts education.
Both of these examples bring up great topics and beg the question: why do you do what you do? Continually asking that question will be lead to the local story. Dollars to donuts you all share very similar motivations:
> Art and Culture experiences for your community
> Arts experiences for students
> The future of the arts in your community
> Community events, gathering friends and neighbors
And, let’s not forget the massive effect arts organizations can have on communities:
> In these times of economic distress, the arts are widely seen as economic boosters for local economies.
> With decline of education budgets, organizations like yours are a backstop for arts education
WHAT TO DO?
Start thinking now about each of your concerts next year. In what ways do your events reflect and address a local situation? Interview board members, local restaurateurs, store owners or school officials; Establish a lifetime achievement award for service to the arts in your community; create a themed reception to accompany any concert with local vendors as a fund raiser for yourself, a scholarship or other local need; partner with another local arts organization to create an event that support your event (like a dance school and a Flamenco show, for example).
Pauline Clark in Bella Vista, Arkansas keeps me up-to-date about their “Student On Stage” for each performance. Now THAT is a local story!
All of these are newsworthy and bring to light the connectivity and worth your organization offers to the community.
Alright publicity chairs, time to jump in! Set up a few coffee dates with fellow board members and start having fun putting your association’s mission into practical terms and sharing the story with your local media!
To borrow my own example from Conference last summer, if Yana Reznik says that she is a great interpreter of Rachmaninoff, you take it at face value: maybe she is, maybe she isn’t. If, however, a respected source points out Ms. Reznik as a great interpreter of Rachmaninoff, you begin to look at her claim differently. The third party voice adds validity. Eventually, however, she’s got to step onto the stage and settle the matter.
This is the same story for you and I: The Live On Stage name carries public weight, as does our “NASHVILLE” dateline. Your organization is now represented in the best possible light, associated with national tours and prestigious artists. Now it’s your turn. Take the stage, tell your story, and make the case for the relevance of your organization and this concert to your community.
I am looking forward to your comments and a great, ongoing, conversation about building a public narrative for your organization!