This blog was originally written for GVSU's PRSSA Chapter on February 6, 2019, and was updated on April 11, 2020.
When I tell people that I’m going into public relations, “Broadway” isn’t usually the first thing to pop into their heads. However, that’s exactly what comes to mind for me. What better way to make a living than to let my inner Broadway nerd mingle with my inner PR nerd?
Due to my love of all things Broadway, I pay special attention to tactics used by PR, marketing, and advertising professionals to help communicate the narrative of a show to the public. Here are my top 5 favorite Broadway PR tactics!
Wicked is, perhaps, one of the most beloved shows on Broadway today. To celebrate their 15 year anniversary, they hosted a Wicked 15 special on NBC. Guests included original lead characters, Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth, as well as Ariana Grande, Pentatonix, and more.
The event was not limited to just television, however–it also included partnerships with Barbie, INGLOT, Ben & Jerrys, Schmackary’s cookies, and even the Empire State Building, which was lit up a Wicked-inspired green on the show’s 15th anniversary.
When the show Newsies ended its Broadway run on October 2, 2016, it very easily could have disappeared into theater-oblivion, like many shows. However, Fathom Events and Disney Theatrical Productions decided to take a different route- taking professional footage of the show and making it available on Netflix
If you’re not a Broadway lover, this may not seem like a big deal. However, this is almost unprecedented in the world of theater. It’s provided thousands upon thousands of people to bring the magic of a Broadway show into their living room, keeping the fanbase alive and dedicated even after the show has closed.
In our modern age, if a show really wants to build its fanbase, it can no longer be just a show. This can take many forms. For instance, crafting new Hamilton-themed songs, featuring guest artists ranging from former President Barack Obama to Weird Al Yankovic, to release monthly for a year.
Another example is #MathLIT raps. All Mean Girls fans will remember the Mathletes in the movie, the somewhat-loveable nerds who invite Cady into their group that competes in math-based challenges. The three actors who play the Mathletes on Broadway periodically release comical ‘rap’ videos on Mean Girl’s Instagram account.
4) Hamilton App
What better way for the Hamilton nerds of the world to stay in touch with the show than an all-encompassing app? The app, released in August of 2017, has everything a superfan could ever dream of: News updates, access to ticket lotteries in five cities, daily Hamilton trivia, Karaoke, #HamCam photo filters, stickers, and merchandise.
Imagine this with me, Mean Girls lovers: It’s October 3rd (Mean Girls day, of course). You’re waiting outside of the theater in New York City where Mean Girls will play in a few short months, waiting to purchase your tickets at the box office. Before your very eyes, a Mean Girls-wrapped FOOD TRUCK shows up- the iconic line “Whatever, I’m getting cheese fries” printed on the side. Who pops out besides Tina Fey, original movie cast member and producer of the Broadway version? Not only that, but the entire Broadway cast shows up, and you’re served cheese fries by the one and only Tina Fey.
THAT is good Public Relations, folks.
Broadway is a fast-paced industry that is always providing new opportunities for creative PR tactics. Shows are no longer just shows; instead, the stories they tell transcend the stage and take on lives of their own through all forms of media- television, apps, Netflix, and of course, even food trucks.