as many as three cabaret performances in an evening, and if there
is any gripe that I have about the folks who organize cabaret shows
is that they beg folks like me to come to their shows, and review
their shows, and then often set about to make our jobs difficult.
can afford a publicist, and I also know that not every publicist is
an efficient publicist. So, here are my thoughts about what constitutes
a good press kit, in order of importance.
1) A SONG
LIST - Even if you don't have the time or the finances to create
a full fledged "Press Kit," it is vitally important that you provide
anyone from the press who covers your show with a song list. It is
not a difficult thing to do, but it would surprise you if I told you
the number of shows that I have attended where this simple, single
sheet of paper was not prepared!
the reviewer is working in a darkened room, and hopefully hearing
some new or unusual songs among the standards you are performing.
Sometimes I can figure out the possible song title from the song being
sung, but I would prefer to be sure - the is a vast difference between
a song called "Stars and the Moon" and "Moon and the Stars." I would
not like to get them confused in my review.
of the composer and lyricist is most helpful - ever try to find this
information when you are "on deadline?" I have. Also, if the show
was first featured (or cut) from a movie or Broadway show, that information
right on the song list, is also most helpful. You may have mentioned
that in setting up the song, but who can write that fast?
forget being fancy. Black type (of a readable size) on white paper,
is all I ask for. Green ink on red paper just might be a lovely looking
handout, but try reading something like that in a darkened cabaret
2) A BIOGRAPHY
- Sometimes I have another show to rush off to, or I haven't had my
dinner yet. I really don't like hanging around after a show asking
some basic questions that your press kit could provide. How old are
you (usually asked only of the very young)? What shows have you done
before - where - when? Where are you from? Where have you studied?
What are your plans?
Now, I don't
mean for you to write a five page autobiography, describing your life
from infancy to the present day - and believe me, I have received
bios like that! Just the facts, please, that are pertinent to this
show. One page should do it.
3) A PRESS
RELEASE - This is a copy of the press release that you sent originally
to the members of the press about two or three weeks before your show
opened. It tells about your show, its title, the folks who helped
you develop it, your director, musical director and other accompanists.
It gives information of the dates and times your show is playing,
and the name, address and reservation phone number of the club where
it is running, the cover charge and the minimum.
mean you didn't send anything like this out before your show? That
probably means that you really didn't think that your show was important
for the press writers to cover!
4) A COPY
OF YOUR FLIER - The advertising flier that you mailed out to your
friends, and folks on your mailing list, and left around at the various
clubs and piano bars around town has all the facts about your show
in one place (or should have). For a reviewer, it is a quick guide
to your presentation. And it gives one a sense of how you sell yourself.
OF PREVIOUS REVIEWS - Personally, I don't often read these, since
I don't wish to be influenced by what others write. But they do lend
a bit of legitimacy to your presence in cabaret. Photo copies are
inexpensive, and can be reproduced quickly. You might wish to simply
include a single sheet in the pack giving excerpts from previous reviews.
6) A PHOTO
- I actually put this item last, since there are several types of
reviews that never include a photo - radio reviews, for example. But
I also put this last because, unless you have a professionally prepared
photo, you are better off not including one. Don't ask your best friend's
cousin to come by and take a snap or two of you standing in front
of a white wall. Go to a real, professional photographer. It will
cost a few bucks, but it is well worth the money, and unless you plan
on changing your hair style every show, will last you for several
years. And stick with the traditional 8"x10" size. I scan several
photos in one session, and it is easier if all the originals are the
photographer knows exactly the variation of contrast, light and shadow
that will reproduce well in the many types of media that might use
the photo - newspapers, magazines and even websites. And of late,
a color slide or two is important as well.
PACKAGE - This is the least important of the list, and yet, sometimes
performers spend more time on the package than on the material inside.
A simple glossy pocket folder, available at just about every stationary
store, is sufficient. Or a large 9"x12" envelope can be used just
as easily - one with a clasp is preferable over one that gets pasted
shut. Personally, I prefer an envelope, since I don't carry a brief
case, and travel the subway often. With the pocket folder, if you
don't hold it just right, things sometimes fall out.
is just about it. Not that difficult, right? Remember, the important
thing is to make the reviewer's job as easy as possible so that he
or she can concentrate on writing the review, rather than having to
search for song titles, etc. Just in case, include a phone number
where you might be reached (your "service" number is sufficient) in
the event the reviewer wishes to check a fact or two.
deep down inside, every legitimate reviewer want to write something
nice about your show. It may not always be possible (and certainly
not ethical) to only write nice things about every show. Making my
job easier just adds to my appreciation of your performance, and might
just mean a slightly better judgement of you.
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