creating a/broad, March 15, 2014
I've Got a Lot Invested in My Press Release
by Cameryn Moore
If you’re following along with my DIY, self-produced-touring artist journey, then you know that last week I was working the sponsor pitch letter hard for this year’s tour. I have already received one positive response before I even began my follow-up calls, so that is a good start in what proves every year to be a pretty gruelling process.
I’m actually starting this process a little later this year than I should, so all hands on deck and hooray for pre-sleep panic rituals, but it’s okay, you know why? I've got so many other things to do as well there will always be one more thing to stress out about, so I can relax and enjoy this feeling of endless abundance of to-do's. This past week I have added press releases to the heap.
I will be doing six rounds of releases in Brighton.
Press releases don’t make that huge-stack-of-paper-landing sound anymore, of course. We are in the 21st century after all. Press releases mostly sound like the fan in my 10-year-old craptop overheating.
Because there are so many of them, I don’t bcc my releases, I do like they say to do, skim through the listings and pick out likely candidates; in my mind, those would be the theatre critics, arts editors, calendar listings, and if I like someone’s name. I generally go for maybe 10-15% of the newspaper page in the spreadsheet of media contacts that good Fringes will helpfully compile and send out from year to year, but that 10-15% still adds up to… … 29 emails, just on the newspaper page for Brighton Fringe. There are still magazines and online sources and radio shows to hit up, too.
And I will be doing this more than once, oh yes! I will be making these mailings two or three times per festival: the initial email, a follow-up email closer in, and an email about Sidewalk Smut, if I think I’m going to be doing it there. Oh yes, and if I’m doing a workshop in the area, that needs a release. Oh, and Brighton gets two more releases because I’m doing both Phone Whore and slut (r)evolution there. Six. I will be doing six rounds of releases in Brighton.
I can take heart in the fact that I know a little more than I did when I first started promoting myself four years ago. I know not to send attachments, especially not high-res photos. I know how to write decent subject headers. I know how to write, full stop. In that, at least, I am several places ahead in the game.
But writing and sending press releases, especially for big festivals like Edinburgh, and Brighton, too, that’s just part of it. If we’re all gambling with our futures, then sending out press releases is just the little bitty under-heated foyer for the whole fucking casino. We’re all staking our time and energy and money on the hopes that we’ll get our reviews, that we’ll find our audiences, that we’ll meet good people, people who are interested in what we do, that we will make it, whatever that means for us. There are many, many points of risk in doing this self-producing thing, where artists need to invest something substantial without any way of knowing whether that investment is going to pay off. These gambles are everything from buying advertising to the choice of venue to even what play we decide to work on. So really, press releases are like pennies in the pot.
I will not ask you to forgive my ego.
Pennies in the pot. Yes. Pennies, and not even that much. I’m not actually spending money on these, just lots and lots of time, which I am fortunate to have. And ego. Yes. I have that in buckets.
I would be lying if I said that this stage of prepping a tour is not a little harder on my ego than normal. It doesn’t help that I have to pump the ego up a little higher to start with. Press releases for festivals, along with program descriptions and performer bios, fit into that category of Public Me where there is no room for modesty. I have to jack myself all up while keeping it to under a page in length and without resorting to unsubstantiated hyperbole. Sometimes, when I’m sitting there re-reading my press release for the umpteenth time, I admit, I go, yeah, wow, that’s pretty good. And it’s all true! How will anyone be able to pass that up? That is fucking cool!
I will not ask you to forgive my ego. Women in general have a hard time building egos in the first place; I’m glad mine is substantial. But as surely as those thoughts parade through my brain—that I am awesome, that people love my work, that my artistic and social-change visions are clear and present and happening in all of the things that I do—they are followed by the sobering recollection that there are many of us out there, who are doing good, nay, great things. Whether my story gets picked depends on fate and how many other shows about sex work are out there and did the editor get laid last night and have a good time at it, and whoops, their fingers slipped while they were checking their email and there went my press release in the trash folder. Nonetheless, it’s a gamble we have to take.
Excuse me. I have to go send some emails.
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