The success of any production is usually measured by the number of people in your audience. Encouraging people to buy tickets is probably going to be the hardest task to carry out and the least easy to gauge how effective it is. Even professional advertising agencies can not guarantee their campaign will get results, so it will be difficult to estimate the benefit of your effort.

Press and Media

Create a list of all your local free and paid newspapers and local radio stations. Make sure you get the name of the most appropriate person to contact in each case. Local papers will usually have a reporter who (amongst other things) is responsible for their entertainments column. Local radio stations often have a magazine type programme that covers an assortment of local issues, but you are more likely to get coverage from a BBC local radio station rather than a commercial one.

Write a Press Release and send it to your named person well in advance of your production, about four weeks is usually enough notice. Give them as much information as possible, the easier you make it for them to do their job the more likely you will get the coverage you need. Try and include something novel or interesting about the show, this will make your production news worthy. Make sure you include details of how they can contact you, and offer them tickets so they can review your production. Even if they do not give you any pre-publicity this time, a good review of your production may be remembered by your prospective audience for the next production.

Telephone your contact person a few days later to check they have received your press release. This will also help establish a rapport with the reporter. Try and make arrangements for them to send a photographer to a rehearsal at their convenience. Remember - they are doing you a favour, not the other way around! It is best to make sure you have something worthwhile for the photographer to shoot. Even if your scenery has not been built and you may not have use of the performance venue, make sure you have something resembling your costumes available for your cast to wear. The more interesting you can make the photograph the more likely you will get it published.

Posters and Publicity Material

Posters are essential, so too is any other form of printed material for getting you show noticed. Depending on your budget and needs A4 size posters will usually be adequate. Now that many people have personal computers it is easy to create a poster that can be printed out and then photocopied. Even if you can not easily print in colour you can enhance the image of the show by using preprinted paper that is tinted or with an appropriate design.

Make sure all your printed material posters, programmes, tickets has a consistent look. Use the same type face for lettering, same colours and images on everything. This is really easy with a computer! You can even print your own tickets and continue the theme on those too.

Your printed publicity material will need to be ready at least as soon as you have notified the press, but if you are trying to get local shops to display posters they will often be reluctant to put them up more than a fortnight before the show. Smaller versions of your poster, A5 size, can be used as handbills and left on the counter in shops and in places like the town hall, information bureau, library etc.

It has become more popular in recent years for organisations to publicise their events using small roadside hoardings or by putting posters on lamp posts and bus stops. However it is inevitable that your posters will soon deteriorate and in any case will never be removed after the event. They may be considered a litter nuisance or vandalism by the local authority. Larger posters used on the roadside can be distracting to motorists and technically constitute an obstruction of the highway - even when they are on the verge. So it really is not a good idea and can create negative publicity.

At the Show

It is worth producing a decent printed programme for your show. You can use the same images and style as your posters. You will need to list the names of the characters and actors and all your stage crew. It may have an introduction giving some background information about the play, the period it is set in or the author. You can also include other items about your group and even publicise your forthcoming production. Make sure you also mention anyone that has helped the production that is not a member of your group, for example a local shop or business that has loaned you something or made a donation. Often you may find a business prepared to cover the cost of your printing in exchange for having their name on your publicity material.

Despite everything you do it is almost certain that the best publicity is word-of-mouth.