Plenty of people love theatre, but not everyone wants to be a performer. And that’s okay! There are other careers in the theatrical world that can connect you to the industry you love without having to set foot on a stage. In this series, I will discuss alternative careers in the arts for those who love theatre. The first post will be my personal favorite – theatrical public relations!
I recently graduated from college with the intent of going into public relations for Broadway shows. As you may have guessed, that dream is temporarily on hold. But I wanted to share my experience in the field.
1. How Do I Get This Job?
Securing a good internship (or two or three) is definitely the key in this field. I started off doing marketing for the New Jersey Renaissance Faire. Then, I did PR and marketing for State Theatre New Jersey, where I had the time of my life! After that, I started applying to bigger firms actually in New York City, but unfortunately lockdown hit. You don’t need to work in New York, of course. Check your local theatres to see what their press department is like!
2. What is This Job Like?
Depending where you are, this job could entail many different things. For example, if you’re based in New York, you’ll probably be assembling press kits for Broadway shows, drafting press releases to send to journalists and pitching stories to the media to best promote your clients. The goal of a publicist is to generate as much buzz for their clients as possible. They share information about the show including opening dates, cast changes and special events. Press agents have to be able to adapt to what the show needs, but also keep reporters interested.
Increasingly, nowadays, you may see publicists expanding and going more into social media, which has become an important way of getting people interested in shows. You might find this in theatres outside of New York as well. These theatres don’t have Broadway money, so their staff is more likely to do more of everything. So while a Broadway show can hire an expert PR team, your local touring house or regional theatre probably has their own in-house team that, alongside PR, also handles social media and marketing as well. This is what I did at State Theatre New Jersey – while I drafted press releases, I also was involved in social media posting and writing blog posts!
3. What Skills Do I Need?
The most important part of publicity is being a good writer. All press agents do is write, whether they are creating a new press release or drafting a pitch to a reporter. Your writing needs to be instantly captivating, and it needs to stand out from the dozens of other pitches reporters receive every day. Communication skills are also massively important. You need to have excellent planning and organizing skills. But you also need a ton of creativity. You’ll need to figure out the best way possible to make your clients shine!
4. Where Can I Get More Information?
Boneau/Bryan-Brown is the biggest firm in the realm of theatrical publicity. Polk and Company and DKC/O&M are also huge on Broadway. The Association of Theatrical Press Agents and Managers has some public information, but most of their resources are locked for members of their union.
If you’re located outside of NYC, though, try reaching out to your local theatres and seeing what their PR/marketing/communications department looks like. This is a great way to get a foot in the door, and you may just discover your new career path!
This is Part One in Musings About Musicals’ Alternative Broadway Careers series.