The Evolution of Scottish Tourism

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Marketing, Museums, Publicity

The National Museum of Scotland boasts exhibits from all over the world including the only place you can see an Ancient Mummy outside of Egypt, limestone sculptures from Ancient Assyria and a dodo from Mauritius.  But what was one of the major complaints I received from tourists back when I worked as an Edinburgh Tour Guide?  It isn’t Scottish enough!

 

Crazy, right?!

 

So, what does the National Museum of Scotland do to combat this?  Well every couple of years, over the summer, which is peak season for tourism, they put on an exhibition that is all about Scotland.

 

And this year they have really hit the nail on the head with their latest paid entry exhibition: ‘Wild and Majestic’ which is about the history of the Scottish tourism industry.

 

It explores how the Romantic Movement during the 18th and 19th century, including poets like Wordsworth or Byron and painters like Knox, captured the imaginations of the world and so the idealised depiction of Scotland was born.

 

Through both artistic perception and real artefacts, the National Museum of Scotland differentiates between what the real Scotland is and the glamorised vision spread worldwide throughout history.  In particular, it explores the monarchy of the UK focusing on both George IV’s royal visit and Queen Victoria’s fascination with the Highlands leading to her eventual purchase of Balmoral castle.

 

The development of Balmoral gives an interesting insight into the overall development of Scotland to keep up with the surge of tourism.  The rural area, which had been untouched for centuries, was now being – somewhat begrudgingly- taken over by the upper classes.  This led to the development of the travel networks and buildings all over the Highlands.  It tells us that in order to preserve the history that attracts visitors, we must also be prepared to evolve.

 

Another brilliant move the National Museum of Scotland has made is to pair up with Sabhal Mòr Ostaig College on Skye, which is part of the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI).  Together they wrote copy and content for the displays which were then translated into Gaelic as well as discussing the impact that the language and culture have had on Scotland’s evolution.  This aspect will not only encourage those from the North to experience the Museum but should also appeal to specialist societies and charities looking to preserve this ancient language.

 

In short, the travellers who come to Edinburgh can see their perfect and stereotyped vision of Scotland: everything from Tartan to Bagpipes, whereas the locals can see how Scotland was (and still is) essentially rebranded for the sake of the tourism industry.  An insightful way to make the exhibition accessible to all.

 

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Press Articles Explained

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Marketing, Publicity

The Edinburgh Fringe Festival is covered by press from all over the world.  Publications, big and small, journalists both employed and self-employed, flock to Scotland to report on anything and everything!

 

Here at The Arts Business we have already talked you through how to write the Perfect Edinburgh Fringe Press Release, but now it’s time you really understand the ins and outs of the articles their looking to print.

 

1.       Features

What is it?

These are the large pieces you often see in publications.  It could be all about you: ‘New feminist comedian breaks the comedy circuit’ or about a group of people doing something similar: ‘New feminist comedians who are breaking the comedy circuit’.  These often include quotes and interviews with the performers.

How do I get one?

Write a pitch: What makes your show distinct? What are its special qualities that aren’t in anyone else’s shows? Does it discuss any current affair topics? Find your unique selling point and pitch the f**k out of it! 

 

2.       News

What is it?

Simply something worthy of being a headline!  It is pretty tricky to get a fringe show in the news as not only do you have to contend with the rest of your fringe fellows but you will also have to battle the rest of the world! 

How do I get one?

You seriously need to have something deemed reportable, but remember, even though it’s difficult to remember at the moment, not everything in the news is doom and gloom, if it’s a slow or bleak news day they’ll be looking for that piece which will lift spirits.

 
3.       Diary

What is it?

A story that isn’t quite newsworthy enough to be news and isn’t quite long enough to be a feature, frequently associated with gossip columns.  Short and juicy titbits worth a short mention! 

How do I get one?

It’s not really something you can plan!  It’s more if you happen upon: an interesting anecdote during your run!  Maybe a celebrity saw your show, maybe a streaker with ‘BREXIT SUX’ scrawled across their chest took to the stage!  Any cheeky morsel you believe will make readable gossip!

 

4.       Newsletters

What is it?

Chances are every receiving house in Edinburgh will have an email and mailing list which they send a weekly or monthly newsletter to their followers.  This is an easy and free way for you to get the news of your show out to potentially thousands of customers.

How do I get one?

Firstly, check out if it is tailored to your kind of show promotion by joining the mailing list yourself and checking out the information you receive.  You can also simply ask the venue if this is something they do and if you can be on it.  The earlier you ask the more likely this is to be an option.

 

5.       Reviews

What is it?

When someone comes to judge your show!  Remember there is no guarantee the reviewers response will be positive so it could be good or bad press for your show.  Having said that, don’t obsess about reviews!  They are not the be all and end all.

How do I get one?

Check out our Fringe Press Release article to grab the press’ attention and remember to pick reviewers who are interested in your genre of work!  You wouldn’t want a children’s theatre reviewer to see your very adult naked cabaret and they probably won’t be too keen on hearing from you either.

 

6.       Podcasts

What is it?

The modern radio programmes, these vary from clip shows of full sessions to tailor made, specific broadcasts for certain target audiences.  They even have some which run especially during the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

How do I get one?

Find the right one for your show!  There are podcasts out for anything and everything so you are bound to come across one that meets your exact category!  For example, if you’re doing a show on Harry Potter, why not try getting a slot on ‘The Mugglecast’

 

7.       Bloggers

What is it?

Basically: online newspapers, often more personal and easy for individuals to set up and talk about their interests!  Fun Fact: they were originally called Web Logs which eventually was shortened to blog.

How do I get one?

As you would a podcast.  Be sure to do your research on audience number and reach to clarify that they are definitely for you.  If they only have four followers on facebook and have been going for 2 years then it probably isn’t worth your time.

 

8.       Sharable Online Content

What is it?

Simply the posts, tweets, grams, messages, videos, gifs, photos and content you share across your social media platforms when they are shared by someone else.

How do I get one?

Try tagging the people you want to share your content in your posts, if the content is special enough they may just share you, but at the very least they should notice you.  But, don’t be a spammer!  Nobody likes a spammer!  Using topical and appropriate hashtags can help to!

 

So, go out and get in the paper so you and your followers can: READ ALL ABOUT IT!

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10 Ways to Nail Your Fringe Press Release

Posted on 1 CommentPosted in Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Marketing, Publicity

A press release for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival (or any other fringe or major arts festival for that matter) is different to any other press release you will write!

You have about 4000 companies to compete with so it’s important to stand out, but how?

Here are 10 sure fire ways to smash your Fringe Press Release all the way to John o’ Groats.

  

1.       Have an Easy to Read Layout

Obviously you don’t wanna lose any of the information the press wants to see on a press release so make sure it still contains: company, show name, venue, dates (including any days off), time, show summary and contact information.  The key is in the format, ensure it is simple, concise and easy to read so that editors with a limited time can scan it in less than a minute and get all the information they need without having to message you to ask questions.

 

2.       Think Pyramid

Picture a pyramid, the bottom is a solid, wide foundation and it heads into a small sharp point at the top.  This is what you need to think when you’re writing the summary of your show.  The very first sentence should provide all the information needed to understand your show, the second should go into more detail, the third more again.  It is also important to remember that a lot of Fringe Publications either can’t afford or don’t have enough time for copy writers so it is most likely they will pull copy directly from your press release.  It is therefore important that wherever the press copy and paste information from within you press release that it make sense both in context to the show as a stand alone paragraph but also each paragraph needs to be different enough that the whole passage could be used.

 

3.       Find your Unique Selling Point (USP)  

There are thousands of shows, so that fact that you are putting one on is not special enough so find what makes your show individual and more importantly publishable.  Then in your very first summary sentence spell this out.  You will capture the press with a stand out, breath taking, heart stopping, attention grabbing, killer first sentence.  Once you find the hook you have found your USP.  It might come from the content of your show, your personal background or the history of your company but you need to find it to grab that press attention.

 

4.       Keep it short 

I always start off by composing my Press Releases in Word or Pages, that way I can ensure they never go over one sheet of A4.  It also allows me to format it beautifully before I copy and paste it into an email.  Always keep in the back of your mind that the receiver will have hundreds of emails just like yours daily so they don’t have the time or inclination to spend more than a few minutes on each one so the more concise and to the point the better.

 

5.       Don’t Spam!

This means 2 things!

Firstly, don’t just send your show out to every publication ever!  Pick the ones specific to your show!  Basically, Chortle doesn’t care about your World War II Children’s Puppet Show in the way that CBBC News isn’t bothered about your Stand Show entiled ‘C-Bombs ‘R’ Us’.

Secondly, don’t send them out constantly.  There is nothing worse than receiving hourly emails from the same company across the entire month of August.  If anything it makes the press more inclined to ignore you! But, this doesn’t mean you cant send it out again if something awesome happens during the run that you believe is press worthy.  

A good rule of thumb is to sent one out in the few months before the fringe, one in opening week, and one if anything important happens in the run like you get a 5 star review from the Scotsman or win a Fringe First. 

You may also want to sent out ‘Diary snippets’, information that doesn’t warrant a whole article but is still a newsworthy anecdote.  Maybe you have had to cancel a show or had a celeb in attendance.  I once saw a performance of ‘The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee’ with Anthony Rapp (from the original Broadway cast of Rent) doing audience participation in with the performers made him spell out the word: ‘LEASE: Meaning another word for RENT’.  Fun pieces like this are noteworthy!

 

6.       Tailor your Press Release 

Different publications have different opinions.  Tailor your press release to suit that publication.  The financial times would expect a much more formal press release than comedy blogedy for example.  I know it can be crazy time consuming doing this and incredibly tedious (like writing individual cover letters when applying for jobs) but it can make a serious difference.

 

7.       Be careful with quotes

Don’t go overboard cramming in every vaguely positive press quote you’ve ever had.  One or two powerful quotes from well know publications will do just fine!  Also, don’t go to vague!  Editors won’t be conned if you include ‘Excellent’ as a quote as for all they know it could have originally read ‘This show was anything BUT Excellent’.  Make sure the quote is specific and attention grabbing.  Something like: ‘An excellent display of physical theatre creating a powerful image of our current day political world’ is much better.  Finally, keep in mind that quotes don’t hold much weight if not from a reputable source.  Simply, a quote from The Times is much better than one from your Best Friend’s Grandma.

 

8.       Stating Awards won and Claims to Fame

All awards won and included in your press release should be relevant and from industry known organisations.  The press don’t care that you passed your cycling proficient in 1994 (unless I guess your doing a comedy show about participating in the Tour de France).  The do care if you or your company had a sell out show at the fringe last year or you won the Perrier Comedy Newcomer Award. 

 

Exactly the same applies to claims to fame! Were you in the final of Britain’s Got Talent this year? Good for you, tell the press.  Did you come 6th in Dorridge Village Hall’s Annual Open Mic Night? Still good for you, but the press, probably not so bothered!

 

9.       Be original

Both in terms of copy as mentioned above, but if appropriate, you can think about Gimmicks.   They can definitely work if they’re small, clean and sent to the right people.  Think more condoms with your show details on rather than blow up dolls, rock with you show name in rather than your show spelt out in alphabet spaghetti, a card which opens and plays one of your songs rather than a full barber shop quartet invading the office to sing it, you get the idea.

10.   Do NOT send your Press Release as an Attachment!

I know it’s tempting, after all you have spent all that effort formatting and editing getting your press release to look beautiful!  But don’t!  Imagine for a second that you are the review editor for Broadway Baby and sitting in your inbox are 3,500 emails from different companies each with a 1MB attachment.  That is 3.5GB worth of info clogging up someone’s business email!  Nobody wants that! 

So don’t send images either, although if it is key to your show ensure they are low resolution thumbnails.

Also don’t send a link to find your press release elsewhere like on your Facebook page, chances are it will simply not be looked at.  The least interaction to get to your show information the better!

No attachment means no cover letter is necessary either!  So both your life and the journalist your contacting’s life is made so much easier!

 

So nail those Press Releases Edinburgh!  If you’ve got a Killer first sentence or a winning Gimmick then tell us in the comments below!

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Captain Corelli’s Lost Mandolin

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Marketing, Publicity, Theatre
How a terribly expensive accident became excellent free marketing.
theatrical programme for captain corelli Birmingham REP
Theatrical Programme for Captain Corelli’s Mandolin Birmingham REP

I can’t imagine how Alex Mugnaioni, the lead actor playing the titular role of ‘Captain Corelli’s Mandolin’ felt when he left a priceless 129-year-old mandolin on a train during rehearsals in London.

Having worked as a Stage Manager in theatre in a past life, if an actor came into rehearsal to fess up to losing a traditional, round back, century old, tricky to source, crazily expensive musical instrument I don’t think I could have helped being pretty cross and may have had a tiny breakdown. A quick look on eBay will tell you that these bad boys retail for up to £350. Definitely not a small chunk of the props budget and probably a large percentage of the overall production budget

But this production coproduced from Neil Laidlaw, Church & State Productions, Rose Theatre Kingston and the Birmingham REP took it in their stride creating the perfect masterplan for how to use this nightmare event and use it as a marketing advantage.

At the post show talk at the Birmingham REP actor Kate Spencer explained that when this news was passed around their cast WhatsApp group she thought it was a publicity stunt. Well, it may have been an accident, but the team definitely used it to their advantage.

So exactly what did they do?

As soon as the incident came to light the company put out announcements across popular news platforms in London, a desperate and genuine appeal for its safe return. This almost immediately went viral not only locally but webpages and newspapers nationwide, across the theatre-verse and even reaching viewers and listeners at the BBC. After all there’s nothing the UK public love more than story that is so steeped in hilarious irony: Captain Corelli’s Mandolin Lost on Train.

I can see what you’re thinking, technically they didn’t do much, they just let the news travel along the grapevine, but that’s not all they did! They went out guns blazing with the best marketing weapon they had available to them: Alex Mugnaioni. That’s right, who better to tell the story of how the mandolin went missing? Actors are natural born storytellers, so it made perfect sense to send him out on interviews. He was able to comically relay the unfortunate tale and spend the remainder of the time hyping up the show.

theatrical set birmingham red
Theatrical Set of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin

Whatever they did it seemed to have work as on 4th July 2019 ‘Captain Corelli’s Mandolin’ began a run at the Harold Pinter Theatre on the West End. And if you get the chance you should see it, it is a simple, beautiful yet incredibly powerful interpretation of the story.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to say the only reason ‘Captain Corelli’s Mandolin’ have been able to transfer to the West End is because of that lost mandolin. It helps that it is a great play written by the fabulous creative writer Rona Munro. It is a collaboratively produced piece which means it is well funded and has a much wider existing fanbase to market to reaching wide across the UK. It is based on one of the bestselling love stories of all time (with a massive 1.5 million copies sold internationally at last count). I don’t think anyone hasn’t attended at least one wedding which quoted the book in a reading: ‘Love is a temporary madness…’. And finally, despite being set during the second world war, a time of death and despair it ends with an over whelming feeling of hope, something that everyone needs at this current moment in time.

As P. T. Barnum said: ‘There is no such thing as bad publicity’ which is the lesson to be learnt from this. Turn negatives into positives. Turn misdemeanours into online content. After all, a bad day is always a great story!

Have you ever turned a blip into a success story? We’d love to hear from you! Just whack it in the comments below.

How to get tickets? – CLICK HERE

Further Creative Reading
Read the full wedding quote here 
Read the full interview with Alex here
Read more about the novel here

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