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.