Five questions to find your Fringe focus

The following checklist is designed to give you an at a glance guide to deciding
where to focus your energies when it comes to publicising and marketing your show.

Q1. Is your show a piece of new writing that hasn’t been to the festival before?
(This also applies to comedy, dance (new work) and other artforms)

IF YES:
Start planning your press campaign as soon as possible. Get your press release out
to reviewers, have a dedicated person looking after your publicity. This doesn’t have
to be a professional publicist, it could be a company member that takes on this role.
If you have new work, then you need to make sure the whole world knows about it.
Research all the publications that cover the festival, see how covering your show
would fit into their remit. Draw up a target list of reviewers. Read their reviews
regularly get to know their style, artform likes and dislikes. Seek out the best preview
angles for your show whether they are based on the theme/topic of your production,
the talent involved or the reputation of your company.

IF NO:
Then you know people have paid money to see a similar show. There are numerous
Shakespeare/Harold Pinter/John Godber shows at the festival each year because
there is an audience for that work. Even if your production is less well known but the
show has been at the festival before then you know the audience is out there so start
a detailed marketing plan to find that audience. The media will be less interested in
your production and it’s unlikely it will be reviewed so by all means have a press plan
and prepare good press materials but don’t focus all your energies on trying to
secure review or preview coverage.

Q2. Have you or your company been to the Fringe before?

IF YES:
OK, so you know the lie of the land. Does the land know you? Has the company a
reputation for delivering good work so much so that Fringegoers will look out for you
or your company and buy tickets on this strength alone? If so and the work is new
back to the PR focus. If so and the work is old then there is scope to work on your
profile with furniture pieces in the media but the focus remains on marketing your
show.

IF NO:
Get in touch with companies who have. They may be the same size and experience
of your company, they could be at your venue or be traveling to Edinburgh from your
part of the world. Contact at least 3 companies and find out what worked for them.

Q3. Does your show have a potential niche market?

IF YES:
There’s potential for prior sales. Find out where this niche audience is and how
willing they are to part with their cash. Where to start? Get to Google. Search for
groups, clubs, associations that might be into your show. There will be an element of
geographic influence with organisations in Scotland more likely to see your show but
groups from London traveling to Edinburgh is not unheard of. To convert these sales
use your passion for your niche topic. It’s what you and your potential audience have
in common. Offer to write an article for their website, give an insight on your topic or
offer a limited number of tickets as a competition prize. Finding just one person within
a group or organisation can be enough to secure a group booking. This contact can
be your show ambassador, the person who rallies their group, organises the trip to
the festival and champions your show. After the festival you can offer to speak at a
group meeting but make sure not to do this beforehand in case nobody buys!

IF NO:
Revisit your USP (Unique Selling Proposition) and look at the competition. Knowing
your USP look at what audiences need from you and make a decision to deliver it as
effectively as possible. See Q5 for more details.

Q4. Does your company, writer, director, choreographer have an established
track record through awards, reviews or association with well known
organisations?

IF YES:
Put the facts front and centre across all press and marketing activities. If through
reviews, contact those past reviewers, if through awards then target the audiences of
other award winning shows at the festival. These people are looking for quality and
you have it. Work your associations so if you’ve worked with a particular
organisation, ask them to mail their audiences about your show or lend another form
of support for your show.

IF NO:
Then let’s start that track record in Edinburgh! Promote your show from where you
want to be not where you’re at right now. If this is the world’s first opportunity to see
your talent, then let them know about it. All your life experiences contribute to the
starting point your at now so look at those experiences and pull the selling points out
of them. You might be the first stand up comedian that’s a bus driver by day or a
playwright chef, all experience is of value so make it work for you.

Q5. What is the best way to convey your USP?
What is it about your show that makes it special? Is it a visual treat? Powerful
writing? Hard hitting content? Unique theme? The story behind the show? Whatever
your unique selling proposition put time and effort into the most effective medium to
convey it.

Through images?
A strong image is vital. Even more so if your show is a visual spectacle. If so get your
publicity images everywhere. Make sure the picturedesk of every newspaper has
them and that they are clearly labelled. Make sure your print is dominated by one
these strong images and set up an early festival photocall to create an Edinburgh
specific shot to kick off the festival.

Through publicity?
Stories sell. What’s yours? If your story or the show’s is its strongest asset then focus
on getting that story to as many outlets as possible. We’re captivated by stories so
don’t let yours go untold.

Through performance?
Strong dialogue? Breathtaking movement? Showstopping action? Provided this can
be translated well onto video, there’s scope for a You Tube Campaign. Alternatively
you need to get as many open performance slots at the festival as possible. These
could be on the High Street (needs to be an audience stopper as well as a show
stopper), they could be at your venue launch or as part of a mixed bill show.

These five questions will be the first of many but are an important starting point in setting your press and marketing priorities. Happy to hear your thoughts, contradictions and suggestions in the comment box.

This content first appeared as part of a Fringe Success Secrets Marketing Package in 2010. Updated in 2017. © Owen O’Leary