Your PR and communication strategy
By Sofie Haag
Congratulations – you now have a confirmed engagement internationally! It could be your own production where you are responsible for all the promotion or a collaboration with a venue where they will provide PR and Marketing as part of the deal. It might be a showcase to present your latest work. No matter which one it is, you can always use PR and Marketing to help raise awareness of that occasion, reach the goals you have set out and build your brand at the same time.
Every campaign launch has three stages; a pre-launch-stage, the launch and the post-launch, when you bring it all to a close. The trick is to prepare everything behind-the-scenes during the pre-launch stage so that you (and your ensemble / organisation / team / other people involved) are ready for the increased visibility that comes with an announcement. That is the very reason we have covered branding and sales material prior to this section. Now it is time to make that work in your favour to magnify your efforts moving forward.
Please note that the international venue/promoter most likely will have their own communications plan and it is important not to interfere with that. The advice in this chapter is for those of you who either have to do PR and Marketing yourself as part of your international engagement or want to use some of the strategies mentioned here to support the venue/promoter (if they welcome that) and/or raise the profile of your brand at the same time.
BEHIND THE SCENES
During the first phase, start with deciding what goals and time frame you have for the campaign and how you will track and measure the outcome. It could for instance be to be featured in certain newspapers, radio and TV, sell 500 tickets and reach 2 million people. The more precise you are, the easier it will be to achieve your objectives and to evaluate them. Then, liaise with the venue (and/or co-producers, promoters, agents or other people involved with your international engagement) to find out what PR and Marketing activities they are planning, what they need from you and how you can collaborate. They might have restrictions for what you can or cannot say and do, which includes the potential inclusion of sponsor and partner logos in the marketing material, so this is an important step BEFORE you go on crafting your own campaign.
Key messages and target audience
The next step is to identify your key messages for this international event in particular. What is the news story and why is it relevant now? Also identify your target audience / customer to be able to create a campaign that is engaging and supports the overall aims you have set up.
Once that is done, build a media list of people to contact (including bloggers, influencers and promotional partners) and a press statement. Your press release should include what it is, when it is happening, why it is happing, who is involved and why this is newsworthy / relevant.
It is also important to have a plan for the marketing material. Some material might need to be designed and printed before the launch. This plan should also include where and when you want to distribute your marketing material, including delivery to the venue, what kind of material it should be and who is responsible for the distribution. It could be big posters for tube stations, leaflets to hand out after concerts/performances or via embassies and tourist boards. Build that into the schedule and find people to help you with those things.
Prepare a guest list for the people you want to invite to the event. It could be a Cultural Attaché, a Danish Ambassador, leaders from Danish/Nordic-promoting organisations and companies, agents, promoters, key people within the industry etc. Liaise with the venue/promoter to see who they are planning on inviting and how many tickets they can set aside for your guests. They might also want to handle the invitations, which as an example could include a reception at the Danish Embassy, the Chamber of Commerce or the venue itself.
Your online presence and final steps before the launch
Finally, have your website, social media and mailing lists ready to meet and greet your online visitors and don´t forget to brief everyone involved before the launch about the upcoming plans so that you are as organised internally as you are externally. You can also set up media monitoring tools prior to the launch to monitor what is being said about you and your production online (Google alerts, Meltwater and others).
Once the news are out in the open, this next phase is all about building momentum and sticking to the plan you set up in the pre-launch-stage. Stay on top of media requests and send out information as soon as someone asks for it. Stick to your plan but have some flexibility to make necessary adjustments along the way. Also optimise your media monitoring tool to capture all that is being said and done around your campaign. This will help you trouble shoot if something unexpected happens and is a great way to find new content for your social media. If you are inviting journalists to review your event, set aside press tickets, provide them with the information they need and look after them on the day of the event. Liaise with the venue/promoter regarding this since they might want to handle it all. The same goes for the guest list RSVP and allocation of seats.
The secret behind a successful campaign is to be crystal clear about the outcome you want to see, and then work daily to achieve those goals. Did it not make it into a media outlet? See if there is another way. Use guerrilla marketing strategies in combination with old fashioned PR-activities. Create positive word-of-mouth and have other people talk about your event for you. Partner up with brand partners to parachute in and connect up with their network (and offer them the same). It´s how it is all working together that is the trick. I have used the metaphor of a conductor before, and it is the same here. Someone must be in charge of the overall campaign strategy so that everything is in sync and works well together. That is how you magnify the impact of your upcoming engagement.
Hopefully you’ve had a successful PR and Marketing campaign and reached your goals. The
end is just as important as the beginning, so take time to evaluate the process, and wrap things up properly. This is where you save all press mentions and reviews in one place, follow up with everyone involved to ensure you haven´t missed anything and also to celebrate wins and learn from the things that didn´t go as planned. Ask for feedback, thank everyone and update all your sales materials to reflect your latest success.
It takes time to build a strong media presence, so let things grow organically and focus on what’s most necessary in the campaign. It is impossible to do everything, so make sure the things you DO focus on count.