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CABARET HOTLINE ONLINE TIPS
Hiring a Cabaret Publicist


Reprinted from CABARET HOTLINE ONLINE #990307 - Saturday, March 20, 1999

I was at the BACK STAGE seminar last week about making money in cabaret, and one of the questions asked was how one gets reviews, and when is the time to hire a publicist.

I am certain that this question arose in part because of last year's media blitz for a virtual unknown youngster from overseas that had his name in all the gossip columns, created sold-out shows, with added shows and drew just about every member of the press, including a camera crew from the NYC local cable news channel.

I might add, there were precious few reviews that I saw as a result of this show, and I have not published my review, since I felt it was too negative (I have an efficient editor/author relationship with myself.)

Here is my advice:

Don't hire a publicist and/or invite the press, until you feel good about yourself and your show. Hire the best musical director you can afford. Next get someone to act as a "third-eye" or a director. DO NOT ask your best friend to be your director. Find someone you trust, but also someone who is not close to you on a social basis. You are looking for honesty from your director as he "fine tunes" your show - and you are free to disagree with his judgements, and he should be willing to listen to your input.

Only when both your musical director and your director feel you are ready for a press review should you invite press to your show. They may show up anyway, as a result of seeing your flier, etc., and it is not a crime to ask a press person not to write a review if you have not invited that person to see the show, and don't feel you are ready yet (but you better not be charging folks a $15 cover for a show you are not comfortable with! - reviews are written so that people will know what shows are worthwhile seeing - and what shows are not worth the cover charge asked.)

Finally, when choosing a Press Rep, ask other performers who already have publicists about their experiences - there are some great publicists in the cabaret field - there are some not-so-great publicists. There are some who will accept any client with enough cash that comes along, and there are some who actually want to see a performance before they take on a client.

There is no such thing as an inexpensive publicist.

And NO publicist can guarantee a review by a major critic, and NO publicist can guarantee a good review. If someone posing as a publicist promises you these things, run away fast!

Much of the work of a publicist, you can do on your own as you start out. A "Press Kit" is nothing more that a photo of yourself (head shot), a song list for your show, a bio about yourself, and possibly your musical director and director (if you have one) and photo-copies of any previous reviews you may have received. Tuck these all into a "report cover" or "pocket folder" and place in a large envelope (the report cover will protect your photo from being damaged). If you have a CD or good quality audio tape, you might wish to enclose that as well.

The booking manager of the club you are performing at should have a list of press contacts in your area to send your press kit to - and have four or five on hand at every performance to hand out to any press folks who might appear. Send out the "kit" at least three weeks before the show starts, and then, if you wish, follow up with a short note, perhaps with a copy of your flier, as a reminder.

Don't be too "cute" with your press kit. It should be honest, and dignified. Case in point: One person, to be clever, enclosed a handful of silver and gold foil stars in their press kit, which flew all over the place when the package was opened. Most press people own computers. Silver foil and computers which have fans do not mix! There are several angry critics as a result of that "clever gimmick."

But most important: Don't invite the press unless your entire team feels you are ready to be reviewed. A bad review can come back to haunt you, and just might discourage you too early in your career.

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