Quick and Dirty Tips for an Effective Press Release

The press release alerts the media that a performance or event will be taking place.
(stock image courtesy of Microsoft Office Images)

This week I want to take the time to talk about the very important, but perhaps overlooked, skill of press release writing.

The press release serves several functions for a theater company. First, the press release alerts the media that a performance or event will be taking place in a concise format that news professionals appreciate. Second, a well-written press release can be published in a newspaper or publication looking to fill up print space, which is essentially free publicity. Third, the press release is your chance to entice reviewers to your production, which can help raise the status of both the production and the theater.

Before starting the MFA/MBA Theatre Management Program at Cal Rep, I had never written a press release. I really don’t think I had ever even read a press release! But over this last year, I have gleaned some tips and tricks I would like to share with you, so hopefully the next time (or first time) you’re asked to write a release the experience goes smoothly.

The goal of the press release is to efficiently communicate all of the pertinent details of a production (I’m going to focus this article on specifically writing production press releases, which is what I have the most experience in, but these tips could work for other news as well) in one page or less. Trust me, this is not an easy task! In addition to the who, what, where, and how of the event, you also need to present the why, and the why is where the style comes in.

First of all, never attempt to write a press release without having a complete and total understanding of the artistic vision of the production. If possible, attend rehearsals. At the very least, sit down with the director and talk about their concept for the show. You want the press materials to match the vision of the piece, or you run the risk of false advertising. Additionally, reviewers and columnists will likely pull quotes and information directly from your release, so you want to make sure that the information is as accurate as possible.

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