Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Is the Press Release Dead or Evolving?

"Day by Day: The Producer's Perspective" at www.godspellblog.com

The press release, one of public relations’ (PR) oldest tools, isn’t retiring any time soon. In fact, it’s been christened with a new name: the social media release (SMR). While the classic press release is aimed at landing on the desks of news executives at the most influential news organizations, the SMR has expanded its distribution channels; besides eyeing editors-in-chief and television news producers, it now also targets the social media groundswell – a "point-blank shot" at news consumers.

PR practitioners in the theater community have never felt more empowered than they do now, especially with the vast potential of sending out their own stories via social media. Pitchengine.com, an online tool that teaches PR practitioners how to create and share story pitches, says it best: “Skip the press release. Create a pitch and share your news, announcement or promotion directly with your customers [consumers]. Publish it to search engines, social networks, your website and more... It’s your story: Go tell it.”

Recently, Ken Davenport, a theater blogger and the lead producer of the upcoming Broadway revival of Godspell, has been making the most out of social media platforms.  In addition to distributing press kits and holding press visits at rehearsals, Davenport has put up a blog named “Day by Day: The Producer’s Perspective,” which follows a day-by-day account of the seminal musical’s much-anticipated return to Broadway. He publishes his own stories, his stage manager’s reports, the show’s online marketing toolkit, and his plan to record a cast album, among other things that heighten the excitement even more among theater fans. The transparency between the show’s producer and potential audience is certainly encouraging.

On the other hand, Leviathan Lab, New York’s newly-established Asian American theater company that’s set to transplant William Shakespeare’s comedy Twelfth Night from Italy’s Adriatic Coast centuries ago to Hong Kong’s harbour in the ‘60s, has been publishing its own stories as well through blog and video postings on its official web site, and through its digital newsletter that’s distributed to a subscriber database.

The age-old press release is “how you get the ball rolling, but it’s what you do with it that makes the difference.” (PRWeb blog, 2011)

The press release isn’t dead after all; it’s evolving.

Oliver Oliveros is  regional site editor, author and photographer at BroadwayWorld.com — an online news portal covering theater, live entertainment, Broadway shows and Broadway tickets.