Sunday, 18 August 2013

Pressing On

The revival of Californian Lives is less than a month away (30 days, to be precise) and I'm once again in the middle of the thankless task of trying to raise press interest in the event. Unlike the first production, when I threw caution and money to the wind, spending a four-figure sum on a P R agent, I'm doing all the work myself - and finding it doesn't feel very different from the first time, when I found myself doing a lot of publicity that I had naively thought the agent would do . . .

That includes designing the poster, writing press releases and contacting the many individuals, organisations, publications, websites that should be waiting eagerly to print and publicise the information that Californian Lives returns! 

The poster was easy. Use the original Lauren Wright photography, replace the King's Head logo and typeface with the OSO logo and the original typeface, add on the reviews from the first run and Bobbette's Your Auntie. Except, as OSO pointed out, I'd forgotten the names of the actors and including them immediately makes the production much more professional. So, poster completed, printed in A3 and leaflet size and distribution begun.

The press releases took an afternoon. I've been writing press releases all my life, but like Ithaca or Nirvana, the perfect press release is a goal ever to be sought but almost never reached. Still, using the format of the King's Head release and making little improvements to layout, so that the information appears much clearer, I banged out five: one focusing on the production's connection with Barnes (the snug little area where OSO is located, where director and one actor live and the actress works out), one a general  release on the play and three focusing on each of the players. The Barnes one - which is probably the weakest, because I did most of the tweaking on the latter four - has already gone out. The others will be released over the next fortnight.

Meantime, there's Facebook and Twitter. I'm not a fan of these media, but they have to be used and after several years of FB and one of Twitter I'm still not sure if I am using them to my best ability. They are both theoretically a means of communication, but communication implies a communicator and a communicatee - someone giving out information and someone else receiving and acting on that information. The reality appears to be that there are far more communicators than communicatees, giving the impression that both FB and Tw are gigantic storms of noise where everybody is so busy shouting at each other that they can't hear what others are saying. (Do you really expect me to read and reply to everyone of the hundreds and thousands of messages that I am receiving from friends and strangers that cross my screen every day?)  And when conversations do arise, either between friends or when whole groups suddenly become obsessed by this or that item of news, they are like mini-hurricanes which spin around and around for a short period of time until suddenly dissipating.

So I put up meaningless, jolly messages about this or that minor piece of information about the production and I know that the same people will FB-like or retweet it. I return the favour of retweeting and re-posting similar snippets that come to me, wondering if I will ever reach the critical mass that will not only have #CalifornianLives trending on Twitter but will lead to fully booked houses and West End contracts. But I'm not yet convinced that the time I spend on these activities are worth the reward they bring in, and I'd be happy to pass on the task to anyone who tweeted and posted more effectively than I do. Any offers out there?

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