Posted by: nancykenny | January 20, 2011

The Publicist’s Dilemma (Part 3)

For Parts 1 and 2 – go here and here respectively.

I’ve spent the last 5 years now creating a media list for the Ottawa Theatre community. This list was built up through various contracts and networking opportunities. This list is extensive and thorough.

I’ve had friends ask me for this list in the past and I haven’t said no. After all, isn’t the end goal the growth and education about theatre arts in our community? Don’t more events mean more awareness? The great Simon Ogden once mentioned the following in my blog comments (and I hope you also click on that link because it was a pretty good blog post filled with very insightful comments from a slew of people):

…when we market our shows we’re not marketing our shows, we’re marketing our industry. And when enough of us tell enough of them how awesome a thing it is that they’re missing, they’ll come. Eventually, they’ll come. You just need to keep showing all that wonderful excitement that you have for it…

I agree completely (and P.S. Simon, I miss your blog), so imagine my surprise when, in Toronto, after being asked to do publicity for a show some classmates were putting up, that no one in town wanted to just hand over their media list.

I was incredibly confused. Aren’t we all in this together? Apparently not.

Don’t get me wrong, I get it. My friends tried to hire a publicist in TO and the cheapest they could find was $1000. People are paying for the years it took to put together such a detailed media list. It goes way beyond simple internet research. It’s years of connections and meetings and hand shaking. I have the cellphone number of many a theatre critic and reporter. When I call, they answer because they know that I have a good story for them. (Or they just want tickets to Vimy…)

As a publicist, your media list and you contacts are a big chunk of your livelihood. I don’t want to work for free as an actor, so why should the publicist? Because that’s what I’m doing when I give away that list. And as someone who has spent the better part of the last four months living out of a suitcase because she can’t afford to live in her own home, that seems like a pretty stupid thing to do.

And that brings me back to the whole dilemma part of this blog post. Because most theatre company’s in town cannot afford to pay $1000* for a publicist and I want to ensure the survival of our local industry, I try and help anyway.

Is this what it means to be a schmuck? Am I the George Bailey of the Ottawa Theatre scene?

You decide.

*My rates are negotiable.



  1. I think the hoarding of the media list is something that needs to change. Yes, PR and promotion is big business in Toronto, but I’ve never been a part of a show that could afford the rates of the “Big Biz” publicists. I’ll share my list with anyone who asks.

    • I should have asked you 😉

  2. George Bailey WAS pretty awesome. They made a movie about him once. So that’s something.

  3. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Simon Ogden and Sterling Lynch, nancykenny. nancykenny said: New blog post: The Publicists' Dilemma Part 3 - Now with more @thenextstagemag #theatre #2amt […]

  4. Nobody’s a schmuck for saying “this is the way the world SHOULD be” and then living up to that ideal. I remember you throwing that media list inquiry out there, and I recommended TAPA — who don’t give their list away because they provide it as a benefit of membership in their organization, in order to build and sustain their capacity to serve theatre artists in Toronto. (Because, ultimately, their staff doesn’t work for free either.)
    As much as we talk collaboration in theatre, the truth is that we all compete for attention, for talent, for money, because we’re in a world where that’s what we’re supposed to do to survive. I don’t know how we change that.
    But having faith in an ideal and acting accordingly isn’t a bad place to start.

  5. Interesting post Nancy. I think there needs to be a whole lot more collaboration in all of the arts. Sharing information is a vital component of this. Whether this is marketing information like ticket sales figures, or contacts, or resources (even sets and costumes). This will grow the arts and audiences, which will also lead to greater revenue.

    Your post’s title alludes to the Prisoner’s Dilemma: How people will often make the wrong choice (out of fear) even if it is not in their interest to do so. This is where we are currently in the arts (at least in Ottawa). It will take some brave souls to lead by example to change this I think. Once the community, as a whole sees, the benefit they will be eager to participate.

  6. did you see the movie Bottleshock. How all the winery’s benefited from ONE winning. It speaks well to the whole community. That is what should happen here. If one wins we all win. So why not share!

  7. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Sterling Lynch, Wayne C.. Wayne C. said: Check out @nancykenny newest blog post. Interesting discussion taking place there […]

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