Your Media List
The fringe should send you a media list of contacts which may or may not be up-to-date. Journalists, like artists, tend to use their jobs as stepping stones and if a fringe doesn't have a volunteer working with their list, it can become outdated in a year or less.
With that said, don't be surprised if you get a lot of "undeliverable" e-mails - it's just part of the game.
How to use the list?
A month and a half before the fringe, send out a short 1-2 line e-mail to each contact asking them if they accept story ideas relating to theater related events. Your initial e-mail isn't the time to pitch - simply ask this question. If you get an answer, send a non-traditional press release. See my article on press releases at (http://www.slashcoleman.com/mpress2.html). Basically this is a short letter telling them what you're up to.
If they e-mail back saying they're not interested, personally invite them to your show anyway and offer a comp. People talk in the press room and if they like your show, they will most likely connect you with someone who might write an article.
Speed is the Key
In terms of the fringe and the press, speed is the key. When you get a response from a journalist you can't just put it on your to-do list. You have to respond immediately. When they write back, I'm ready to roll. And by roll, I mean that I have a press kit they can download on my website and JPG's for web and print at a moments notice. If you want press, then when the media says jump, you must be willing to immediately respond with a, "When? and How high?" If you don't, they just go down the list until they find someone who is willing to jump.
What does Press do?
I hate to be the one to tell you this, but even a front page article isn't going to fill your venue. I'm the guy who gets a lengthy front page article in 1-3 publications each fringe and my key is speed, but it never fills the seats. I'll usually sell 1-4 tickets per show for an article that came out. It's important for you to know this before you invest a lot of time in a task that may not give you the result you want.
If a well placed article or interview doesn't really correlate to ticket sales, then why all the hoopla? For me, my career as an artist is a business, and with that business I have long term and short term objectives. One of those objectives is to receive press exposure, national and local, 1-2 times each month. Doing so, helps keep me visible in the public eye and build my fan base. Although it won't build a fan base overnight or by the time a fringe is over, in the long term it is helping me achieve many of my other goals.