Reading is fundamental

by Smartie on May 20, 2016

artist2When you read a newspaper or magazine, or watch a news program, what goes through your head? Are you absorbing the interviews, agreeing with the reviews, railing against (or for) the op eds? Congratulations, you’re normal!

I, on the other hand, am scouring the newsprint for reasons behind the coverage. Why did this project get coverage? What was newsworthy about it? Was the subject a Bright Young Thing? If so, why does the editor or writer or producer perceive them this way? How is the story angled? Why did they tell it that way and not another way? How did this angle make it a better fit for the outlet?

(Admittedly, I spend less time dissecting television simply because TV wants celebrity. And you can just about Full Stop it right there.)

In order to understand why you are not getting coverage, it’s important to understand why someone else is. For example, if you have a nonfiction book about an obscure, mainly academic topic, the chances of a People Magazine review or booking an appearance on The Daily Show is pretty damn slim. Because these are outlets are nailing specific demographics and your project simply is too niche.

So the next time you’re on NYPost.com (come on, you know you read it) or Vulture or flipping through Time Out, take a look at the stories and think about why the writer/editor decided to give that particular project coverage.

No doubt, this exercise can be tough on the ego. Try not to fall into the “but what about meeeeeeee” trap when you are reading the rave review of your arch nemesis. Try instead to break down why Arch Nemesis got the coverage in the first place. What you learn may surprise you.

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About those confounding press releases

April 22, 2016

So, you’ve got a brilliant press release written and distributed. After the heady rush of the announcement, things are starting to lag. Your ticket sales are at a slow crawl and you want to give everything a boost. What can you do? A bunch of things! But here’s what you don’t do: re-send the press […]

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On the loss of Backstage reviews

April 18, 2013

So, last week word went out that Backstage 86ed their reviews, and it appears that the immediate kerfuffle has died down. There were loads of different reactions, from the “Wait, Backstage reviewed?” variety, to dispirited statements from many small companies about how Backstage were one of the few outlets they could count on to review shows. Of […]

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The culture of free

March 12, 2013

And no, I’m not talking comps. This response by a freelance journalist to The Atlantic has been making the social media rounds. Essentially, The Atlantic wanted to the guy to “repurpose” a reported piece he did for another outlet, and as payment they offered the prestige of publishing in The Atlantic. Arts journalist Randy Gener […]

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On Failure (and my fear of it)

February 15, 2013

  I’ve been working in NYC theater for something like 17 years. I have seen a lot of “failures.” Let me first define my use of failure: The reviews were awful, to the point of career damaging The show didn’t find an audience, and the actors played to audiences of one or two The artists/company […]

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OMG! Negative Reviews!

October 24, 2012

I recently dealt with the second scenario, and was asked that the web outlet pull the review entirely. Don’t ever do this. That is taking a big giant dump on the free press. Call your mom and sob. Go out for lots of drinks with your BFF and talk about how the critic is a […]

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Why aren’t they? Try: why should they?

June 12, 2012

“Why aren’t they?” I hear this question often. Why aren’t they reviewing me? Why aren’t they writing a feature story? Why aren’t they giving me a rave review? It’s easy to ask why, but only when you rephrase the question can you actually take action to fix the problem: Why SHOULD they? What are you […]

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Like the Mayan Calendar, but for NY theater!

January 17, 2012

I always advise that if you are looking for press impact, you need to plan your productions accordingly. Great advice, but… Not helpful. So I figured I would put together a neat calendar that gives a general landscape. Just a note–schedules are always in flux and this is more of a general lay of the […]

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A case of the Mondays

December 12, 2011

For today’s case of the Mondays, let’s do a little Monday morning quarterbacking for the weekend movie box office. To put it succinctly, it was a crap weekend for Hollywood. And while the pundits blame crappy reviews and lack of testosterone at the box office, I think there’s something a else at play that may […]

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What can we learn from Amanda Hocking?

July 12, 2011

I have been pretty transfixed by Amanda Hocking, the young woman who made a million bucks by self-publishing her ebooks and then landed a traditional publishing contract with an advance of double that amount. If you read her backstory, she’s like the little engine that could. And she most certainly DID. On her blog, she is […]

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