Favorite Quotes Vol. XXVIII: How to plan publicity.

Cameron Mackintosh is to Broadway what Henry Ford was to automobiles.

The Mac Man came on to the scene in the ’80s, and revolutionized how our shows were made, marketed, and merchandised.

So to quote a marketing phrase from the ’80s, when he speaks, I listen.

There was a nifty article about the 25th anniversary of Les Miz in the London Telegraph yesterday that had a great honest quip from Sir Mackintosh about how to get great press.

He was remarking on how Susan Boyle’s YouTube shattering performance of “I Dreamed a Dream” (almost 50 million views) put Les Miz back on the map, and gave it a “popular” hit, which reignited interested in the classic show.  When talking about the unplanned performance, he said:

It was the publicity shot anyone would dream of, although of course it would never happen if you tried to make it a publicity stunt.

We’ve talked about this idea before when it comes to creating viral videos, and the same theory applies to press.  What gets a show press is not a press agent, so stop blaming them if you can’t get your show in the NY Times.  What gets press is a great story.  And great stories are true, organic, and emotional.

A press agent is just the conduit between the story and the outlet.  A press agent is like the fleet-footed messenger bringing news from the General to those on the front lines.  Yes, some run faster.  Yes, some know shorter routes to the right people.

But if the news about your product isn’t worthy, no one will listen to them, no matter how fast they are.

Was Cameron telling us that we shouldn’t even try to get a Boyle-sized press hit for our show?  No.  He was just suggesting that the best press stunt isn’t a stunt at all.  It’s a story.

And stories require Producers, not press agents.

What we can learn from the most watched videos on YouTube.

Commercial theater producers need to keep in touch with popular entertainment trends.
Just what is the current appetite of the people?  What are they craving?  Heavy on the protein?  More fat?

Here’s one quick-fix way that I keep in touch.

Every year I take a look at the Top 10 Most Watched Videos on YouTube.  Since “most watched” is a semi-pure democratic process, it gives me a chance to see what the mass audience is interested in (and most particularly a young audience, which is tomorrow’s Broadway audience).

Here’s a list of the titles:

  1. Charlie Bit My Finger – Again!
  2. Evolution of Dance
  3. Miley Cyrus – 7 Things
  4. Hahaha
  5. Jeff Dunham – Achmed The Dead
  6. Pitbull – I Know You Want Me
  7. Lo Que Tu Quieras Ois
  8. Susan Boyle – I Dreamed a Dream
  9. Timbaland – Aplogize
  10. Miley Cyrus – Party In The USA

You know what’s funny about the above list?

You’ve got kids (and British ones at that), dance, stars, comedy, something for the international community, popular music, an underdog, and something with Disney’s fingerprints all over it.

Sound like a Broadway season to you?

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