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?
*My rates are negotiable.