Working with reviewers is a necessity for performing arts organizations-whether your company produces theatre, dance, music or other forms of performing arts, chances are a big part of your public relations efforts relies on getting your productions reviewed for local and regional newspapers, print publications, radio and television. Learning to work with reviewers is well worth your time and staffs focus. Here are some suggestions for working with reviewers to promote your performing arts events:
Get to know the reviewers in your community and performance field. Some will also be the same people who do previews and other arts features in your city. Normally, each radio and television station has reporters who are assigned the arts beat and you will want to cultivate those individuals in order to get coverage. Depending on the size of your newspaper, there may be one or several people you will need to know in order to cultivate relationships with the individuals who cover arts. Don’t forget about weekly publications, college newspapers, and even specialty publications-they may do some arts reviewing and reporting too.
If possible, provide complimentary tickets to the media you’d like to review your production. Some media might have policy about accepting complimentary tickets, but many won’t. Instead of waiting for the reviewer or the media company to contact you-contact them and set up a time for them to come and review the production. You’ll want to make sure it’s early enough in your run (if possible-a one-time event won’t have a choice) to get the biggest boost from a good review. Provide reviewers with information about the production in advance if you can-a synopsis of the production, a list of cast and artistic (and technical) staff. While a program or playbill may provide this information, providing something more complete gives you another opportunity to cultivate the reviewer.
Once a review has been written and published or broadcast, be sure to send a note of thanks-even if you don’t agree with the review. Thank the reviewer for coming to see the production and being willing to offer constructive criticism. Chances are, the same reviewer will be back for your next production and if you create a negative impression, it could affect the outcome of your review. Continue to use every opportunity you can for cultivation and building a constructive working relationships with your reviewers. They really are part of your public relations team.