The guidelines below help are designed to help us find the press releases we need and extract the information we need from them. We receive thousands of press releases every year, so your help in making working with them easier is much appreciated. On Broadway Baby, if your goal of sending a release is to get listed, remember you can add this information to Broadway Baby yourself for free, and if you're at a festival like Brighton or Edinburgh Fringe, we already have (or will have) your listing. Of course, not all publications offer this function, so the tips below will be useful for all media.
Don't try to tell a narrative or be mysterious in an attempt to make your release more interesting.
The first thing your should consider when creating your release is what you want it to achieve. What is the job of your release? Not a stupid question, as there are actually many type of press release which all serve a different purpose. Here are some of the most common ones:
- News Release
- Listings Info
- Photo Call
- Diary Piece
Each of these releases are constructed in different ways in order to maximise their effectiveness. You may be surprised to learn that 95% of the releases sent to us do not meet their objective. Most releases sent to us are hybrid news & listing info that we can't use.
Journalists Are Lazy
A simplification of the truth, but the truth nonetheless. Anything you do to make a journalist's life harder makes your chances of a release getting used a little less likely. Taking the most common type of release, the news story, as an example, when you read your release is it likely to appear verbatim on the pages of The Guardian? Or is your release just an announcement that you're taking a show to a festival? Is that, in all seriousness, news when your show may be one of 3,500 shows going to a festival? No, it's not. So there's no news. What you've got to find is the 'story'. Have you cast someone of note? Is this a hotly anticipated show? Did you overcome a major challenge to make this show happen? Chances are there's a much more interesting spin on your story than just the fact you're staging a show.
Once you've found your angle, you should write your release as though a journalist has written it. Cut the flowerly language and focus on facts. Write it as though it could be simply copied and pasted into a quality newspaper. Make the job of the journalist in choosing to run your story a no-brainer.
There are long-standing rules about how to write a news release, although it seems even the best PRs have forgotten them. Your release should be written in a pyramid structure, so your first paragraph should summarise the whole story, and each further paragraph add more detail - but the release could cut paragraphs from the bottom and lose none of the meaning. So don't try to tell a narrative or be mysterious in an attempt to make your release more interesting. Always imagine the journalist reading your release has another 3,000 to skim through, so if the first line hasn't told them what they need to know, the release isn't doing its job.
Do some research on the publications you're sending your release to. There really aren't that many normally active on the fringe, and you can at the very least categorise them into local news, listings, reviewers, nationals, TV and Radio. Each category will be looking for different stories, and won't thank you for sending them irrelevant info. In a festival such as Edinburgh your release will be one of more than 3,000. Spamming will quickly get you a reputation that means your release may not even be opened.
Don't send your release as an attachment, or - even worse - as a link to Facebook, et al. Any click you put between your press release and the journalist you want to read it is another chance that it won't be read. Don't litter your release with pull-quotes or other information that is unlikely to be published by your target media. Have the mindset that the person receiving it needs to copy / paste from top to bottom and paste next to your listing. What in your release would stop them doing that? Quotes from other publications between every paragraph probably would.
For Listings Info you should focus on the performance dates & times and location. Give the publication a thumbnail poster image and your marketing-blurb show description, but don't send high resolution image or spreadsheets - just give them the links so they can download that material themselves. For publications regularly involved with Brighton and Edinburgh Fringe like Broadway Baby listings info releases are unnecessary, as that data comes directly from the Fringe office. Check whether you need to send a release at all.
Photo Calls are useful for national newspapers with their own picture desk and freelance photographers. They are less interested in what your show is about and more in what they can expect to get a picture of, so if you're organising a photo call describe the scene, people involved and location.
Diary Pieces are snippets of news that wouldn't justify a full news release, such as a performance being cancelled because and actor got stuck in a lift or a celebrity turning up to watch the show. Check which publications run columnists, as they are your most likely target for a diary piece.
Notes To Editors
All release types should include a 'Notes To Editors' section which isn't intended for publication but gives the journalist some background on who you are and what the show is. You should also include contact information so that if you've garnered interest in your story we have someone to call or email for photos or more quotes.
No, seriously, don't include them. We get something like 5,000 releases over a typical Fringe and if they all had a 1MB attachment we'd have to constantly upgrade the hosting requirements with our ISP, plus dealing with large attachments while mobile is not easy. One theatre company (no names) recently sent us two releases within a week that weighed in at over 100MB. We deleted them. Nothing personal, but they make our life hell.
Press releases for Broadway Baby should be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
This email account is accessed by all of our editors to find press releases. Press releases sent to other Broadway Baby email addresses are likely to be deleted. Do not send press releases to multiple Broadway Baby addresses in case the email@example.com copy is deleted automatically along with the others. We'd don't monitor Twitter DM or Facebook private messages - so our email is the best, and only, way to get in touch with us. We also encourage you to take a look at our Fringe Marketing Guide for comprehensive insights on how to sell your show at the Fringe.
- Include full listings information at the top of the email.
- Include full contact details for your press contact at the top of the email.
- Format your press releases in plain text, without overly large headings or other attention-grabbing formatting tricks.
- The text of your press release should be in the body of the email.
- Don't send us any text as an attachment. Don't send us PDFs, word documents or any attachments other than images we request. If your release isn't in the body of your email, we're unlikely to read it.
- Do keep us updated about awards and accolades your show receives. Don't duplicate your general press release when you do this - we already have it.
The Perfect Release for Broadway Baby
- Send to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The subject of the email should be the show name, the festival it's in (if appropriate), venue and date range.
- Your listing information should include venue name & address, followed by the dates/time and days of the week at that venue (ie, 27th March 2014 - 26th April 2014 Tue-Sat 7.30pm, Thu & Sat 2.30pm. Duration 1h20). If you are on tour, include this information for each of the venues.
- Include a short description of the show (the 'blurb'). This should be free of marketing superlatives or pull-quotes from other publications.
- If you are hosting a press night, please include the date, time and press contact for RSVPs.
- Include the production company name, producer, director, writer and key cast members.
- Only tell us about one show per email. This helps us find and filter the information we're looking for.
- If you follow the information above, you've got a much better chance of being listed. Alternatively, remember you can add this information to Broadway Baby yourself for free.
- Don't flag your press release email as Urgent. It isn't, and if you're trying to trick a journalist into opening your message first, it'll probably be the first to be deleted.
- Don’t send newsletters or similar material intended for a general audience to the press. We often get auto-subscribed to your mailing lists, and to be honest this causes us more hassle weeding out the actual press information. We will unsubscribe. It's nothing personal, but we just don't want those emails.
- Sell your show, but make sure you don’t say anything which could be construed as a lie. Many bad reviews result from misleading press releases.
- Do make sure all the information in your press release is correct, and that it is well spelt. Needing to send corrections would make you look very unprofessional.
- You should be targeting every press release individually. If a contact isn’t appropriate for your show, then wasting their time with a press release will not help you very much. Check the press release guidelines of every single publication you contact and follow them exactly.
- Address all of the recipients of your press release with the "To" field. BCCing is unnecessary, messes up email filtering systems, and is a little rude. And if you're bulk emailing, you're probably doing it wrong.
- We are unlikely to reply, but if you've followed the instructions above, rest assured we have your press release. If we add your show to our schedule for a festival, we nearly always organise our tickets direct with the Fringe press office, so you probably won't get an email from us even if we are planning to cover your show. Outside of festivals, please do include press night and contact info, as with those we are more likely to put you in our calendar.