Published on April 8, 2019, at 4:27 p.m.
by Julia Landon.
The further we get into the digital world, the more muddled the definition of public relations gets. Graduating students are looking at many different titles and roles that are not just PR focused, but also advertising, design and marketing related. This practice is called integrated marketing communications, which is defined by Western Virginia University Integrated Marketing Communications as “a strategic, collaborative, and promotional business function through which a targeted audience senses consistent, persuasive, and reinforcing brand messaging.”
IMC in theater
In theater, IMC is one of the most important parts of educating the public on what theaters are doing. There are two reasons as to why IMC is so important: (1) Most theater communications teams are doing it all — advertising, marketing and PR; and (2) when reaching the nontraditional, theater-goer audience, theaters need to be everywhere — in digital and traditional media.
According to Marci Kaufman Meyers, group director at Serino Coyne, the traditional playgoer is older, has money and lives in Manhattan. This audience is more likely to utilize traditional media, such as newspapers, radio and television.
Kaufman Meyers is currently working on a show called “What the Constitution Means to Me,” which will have many of the traditional theatergoers, but also many younger viewers. This show is attractive to younger audiences because they are “much more politically active or culturally inclined. They’re hipper to the culture that’s going on in the city and issues that are facing their demographic today,” Kaufman Meyers explained.
Theater has also seen a change in show promotion and advertising techniques in the last 15 years. Originally, the promotion of shows was done through traditional advertising, such as print, newspapers, magazines, radio, direct mail and billboards.
For both regional and professional theater, the challenge of using communications to promote a show that lacks name power with a recognizable title or actor is always there. Luckily, professionals in the theatrical world know all about utilizing the wide variety of available promotional outlets to draw people in. Sometimes, however, a little extra push is needed to draw in audiences who aren’t quite in reach just yet.
Partnerships within the theatrical world are one of the most important parts when it comes to increasing an audience, especially if the show isn’t well-known by its title or actors.
Adam Miller, managing director at Theatre Tuscaloosa, oversees everything at Theatre Tuscaloosa, meaning he works in advertising, marketing, public relations, and all the other odds and ends theater has to offer.
Theatre Tuscaloosa’s main partnership lies with Shelton State Community College, the campus on which Theatre Tuscaloosa operates. Theatre Tuscaloosa also has a trade deal with the Tuscaloosa Symphony, where they run each other’s advertisements in their programs.
Adam Miller, managing director at Theatre Tuscaloosa, oversees everything at Theatre Tuscaloosa, meaning he works in advertising, marketing, public relations, and all the other odds and ends theater has to offer. Miller shared that arts organizations in Tuscaloosa support one another because of each organization valuing participation in all of the arts.
“We occasionally get some advertising in cooperation with Shelton State Community College, so they’ve got a contract with The Tuscaloosa News where they’re running on a regular basis. They may throw one of those toward us, where we can send them some artwork, and they’ll run it on their contract,” Miller said.
With “What the Constitution Means to Me,” Kaufman Meyers said the marketing department for the show is working on forging relationships with organizations such as the ACLU, the National Constitution Center and the New York Historical Society.
Much like the relationship Theatre Tuscaloosa has with Shelton State, these partnerships that Serino Coyne forms allow for the marketing team to reach the more politically active audiences through brands and organizations they respect and find reputable.
“People who revere those brands will then think of our show as something that is advocated by or sanctioned by the brands that they already trust,” Kaufman Meyers shared.
To succeed in theatrical communications, a professional has to be a jack of all trades, or at the very least understand the importance of integrated marketing communications. Once a season is selected for a theater, or a professional is put on a client team for a new show, they have to understand the market they are targeting. That means they have to understand where their market is digitally and traditionally; understand the demographics and psychographics or each audience; discover how to make the season or show appealing to these audiences; and be able to put all of that information into one cohesive communications plan.