Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Question of the Week: Using the Fringe Media List

Dear Mr. Fringey,

The Capital Fringe sent out a list of media contacts: 176 of them. Many have organizations associated (NPR, Washington Post, DCist, Washington City Paper) but many don't (maybe they're bloggers)? I could do a shotgun approach and send press releases to EVERYONE on the list... that doesn't seem so strategic. I know it's key to hit Washington City Paper, but any advice on narrowing down the media list?

I've got a unique show (http://www.timereneta.com/1349.html ) as it combines traditional storytelling (folk and fairy tales) with a modern frame (I make topical jokes on politics in between... well, 14th century politics... and endowing the audience as fellow 14th century bards and poets).

I appreciate your advice and look forward to meeting you at the fringe.


A: First read my article on 5 Things to Know About Fringe Media Courtship.
 Although a lot of it won't apply since we're so close to Fringe launch (we're less than 30 days to countdown) it's still worth a glance.

You're right about the nature of the list. There are a lot of blogs on the list, magazines, newspapers, Latino media contacts, radio stations, and TV stations. Most Magazines, only consider press releases about 3 months out, many of your Press Releases will go to spam, a lot of the contacts have already planned their fringe articles (many did that planning about 5 months ago - I did an interview for one Washington paper about 2 months ago) and most on the list have been hit hard by everyone and their brother pitching their show. I had about an eighth of the contacts bounce back this year which is down from 1/2 two years ago.

Everything I advocate is about personal connection and personal relationships. You can chance a blanket press release - there's a 1 in 176 chance that it'll get read by someone who is interested in 14th century politics. Probably not though.

At this point, I would send a short e-mail (no longer than 5 or 6 sentences pitching your show to the contacts and extending the invitation with a free ticket and a link to your website) 98% of these invitees won't take you up on your offer, so don't worry about selling the shirt off your back. But each of those contacts will appreciate the gesture and when they go out for their night on the fringe, they'll remember that gesture.

At this point you're looking for someone to review your show. Most reviews are actually assigned in the office by the straw system, metaphorically speaking. The writers pick straws and are assigned shows. 

Your best bet would to send a few of these strategic short e-mails during the first week of the fringe, once things have started to run their course. I've done it in the past and it's worked wonders. Oftentimes you'll get an e-mail back that says, "Joey Rockstone is assigned to review your show on Thursday. Thanks for checking in."

Happy Fringing,
Mr. Fringey

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