Media relations: Learning from the examples of others – both good and bad

To increase your odds of getting good publicity for your small business or nonprofit, follow the tips in the post.

By Mark G. Auerbach

I’ve been wearing two hats for most of my professional career. I’m a marketing and public relations consultant who also works as a print and broadcast journalist. When I do public relations workshops for arts administrators or communications students, I’ve learned that the best practices come from other people’s examples. Here are some recent ones.

– The Song With No Name. I get a press release about an interesting concert, and it has a theatre, date, and time on it, but no contact information to reach out to for additional information. The email comes from No XXXCompany website. Then, the theatre venue, a common name, like Colonial or Paramount, has no city or state location. There are two theatres by that name in our readership area. Too little information for me to do a calendar listing, and too much work for me on deadline to Google the event. The release goes into the trash. The Take Away: Always provide contact information for the event and the press person sending the release.

[amazon_link asins=’0988322005′ template=’ProductAd’ store=’succeedingi0d-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’eecf6287-dc46-11e8-9c3e-5ba60e9cacb8′]- Where Did The Good Times Go? A theatre director who reads my column and listens to my radio program approached me to do a feature about an upcoming play, a title I happen to personally love. I was enthusiastic, and suggested an interview time, noting that my shows broadcast live and aren’t pre-taped. I offered a couple of dates. She was always booked during those times, because she had to go to the gym. She suggested a pre-tape. I suggested she go to the gym earlier or later. No interview happened. The Take Away: Be flexible in your schedule if you want coverage for your event.

Earlier this fall, I had the opportunity to interview husband and wife James Barry and Tara Franklin, co-stars of Berkshire Theatre Group’s production of Pirandello’s Naked. When we were setting up the interview, and hour-long program, they said that one of them had to take their young son to school. We built that into the program, which was a hit with our radio audience, and showed a very human side of stage stars.

[amazon_link asins=’1119362415′ template=’ProductAd’ store=’succeedingi0d-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’fd2323de-dc46-11e8-8997-73a2ea19f95d’]- You Can’t Stop the Beat. At the request of a theatre, I interviewed a talented young composer. The theatre sent a program bio, but the composer followed up with clips of his music and other materials. He piqued my interest. We hit it off on-air, and I’ve become a follower of his activities. He has become a resource for material.,.and I can’t wait to showcase his endeavors. The Take Away: When you build a rapport with a reporter and become an invaluable resource, they will feature you again and again.

My composer resource is Alexander Sovronsky, who just composed the score to The Mother of The Maid, starring Glenn Close Off-Broadway. I was introduced to his work when he composed a score to Hartford Stage’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and productions at Barrington Stage and Berkshire Theatre Group in WMass.

– Tell Me More. I recently did the public relations for a creative economy seminar, featuring a nationally known expert. It was on short notice and scheduled for a weekend crowded with other programs. The expert provided great materials to use for promotion, but it was tough getting the kind of coverage I’d hoped for because of the short timeline. On the day of the program, the expert began the day saying, “I’m so glad to be back in the area, because I went to college here.” If only we’d known! The Take Away: If you have local ties, make them known. We could have involved the alma mater, which would have been thrilled to be a part of the day.


Mark G. Auerbach is principal at Mark G. Auerbach Public Relations, a Springfield, MA, based marketing, public relations, development and events consultancy. He is also the arts columnist and reporter for The Westfield News Group in Massachusetts and Connecticut and producer/host of ArtsBeat Radio on 89.5fm/WSKB. You can find more information about Mark at Facebook and LinkedIn.

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