Category Archives: Laura Murray Public Relations

ShakesPR: Publicity Tips from The Bard

We’re celebrating the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death with a few useful insights from The Bard himself! Use these quotes from some of our favourite plays to brush up on the most important strategies for successful public relations!     All the world’s a stage, here’s hoping these tips help you give your best performance!

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Marketing the Arts Experience

Marketing the arts, by its very nature, is selling an experience. When an individual books a ticket to a show or purchases admission to an exhibition, they are investing in something entirely intangible.       The good news is that an increasing body of behavioural science tells us that money spent on experiences makes us much more happy than money spent on material things.   Despite this, arts marketers often spend countless hours treating shows/events like products – marketing only what happens on stage, rather than the entire act of attending live performance.   By showcasing the experience beyond the performance itself, you can foster expectation and excitement among potential attendees. Here are a few ideas for demonstrating the joy of arts-going with audiences:   Show, don’t tell.   The rise of image-based social media (Instagram has had more users than Twitter since 2014) means it is easier than ever to share all of the action happening off stage. Just look to the lobbies and you’ll see ample opportunities to snap & share – from mingling masses, to mixed cocktails, to beautiful areas surrounding the museum or theatre (we have a lot here in Vancouver).   One organization who has done an excellent job of showcasing the overall experience of attending live performance is Vancouver Opera. At every show they have a camera ready at the front door to snap photos of excited opera-goers. It’s fun for those in attendance – and demonstrates the diversity of audience to those at home (as well as proves you don’t need a tux or evening gown to take in exceptional opera!)     Sharing is caring.   While sharing the audience experience is brilliant on your own social feeds, what’s even more valuable is having your patrons express it in their own words. At the most basic level, setting a show hashtag is crucial for this – as it will allow you monitor conversations taking place online, as well as propel the great word of mouth forward through your network.   More advanced set-ups can mean creating playful, interactive opportunities for audiences to take and share photos of their experience on-site. Vancouver’s outdoor summer theatre companies have made great use of type of engagement, utilizing character cut outs at Bard on the Beach and prop & costume-filled tickle trunks at Theatre Under the Stars.     Enhance the experience.   One of the best ways to ensure audiences are engaged by their show-going is to find ways of enhancing the total experience in smart, unexpected, and out-of-the-box ways. The only limit to such on-site enhancements is imagination – and the impact should not be underestimated. A few examples of companies in Vancouver ‘enhancing the experience’ for their patrons, include:   Early Music Vancouver hosting deeply informative discussions before every concert that lead to greater connectivity and appreciation for the music.   PuSh Festival creating a post-performance club where patrons can dance & discuss the shows nearly every night.   Firehall Arts Centre offering limited-time cocktails themed to the shows taking place on stage.   ITSAZOO’s site-specificity spilling from the play into ever aspect. At the trailer park-set for their work Killer Joe, beers were served in brown paper bags and hot dogs could be ordered from a nearby camper van.   Theatre Under the Stars creating a Village Fair for Oliver! Audiences were transported back in time, and enjoyed a slew of games, races, and sing-a-longs pre-show.     These are in no way just “gimmicks”. When carefully and cleverly matched to the art itself, such enhancements can greatly inform the audience experience. Doing so creates a more memorable occasion and makes art-goers more likely to tell their family and friends about your enjoyable event – generating the all-important word of mouth that is key to success in arts marketing.

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Top Ted Talks: Inspiration + Creativity

  Hanah Van Borek suggests: Amy Tan – Where does Creativity Hide?   The author of the best-selling novel, Joy Luck Club, shares one of her life’s darkest moments to illustrate how, through ambiguity, creativity can flourish. When faced with uncertainty, our natural instinct is to question “how” and “why” events happen. In the creative process, we seek out answers, and in the pursuit we are helped by our intentions, our imagination, and often a bit of chance. Amy reminds us to accept the discomfort of not knowing because, thought it can be scary, it’s a state that can allow for amazing ideas to emerge.   Chelsea Isenor suggests: Elizabeth Gilbert – Your Elusive Creative Genius   In this insightful and humorous Ted Talk, Eat, Pray, Love author Elizabeth Gilbert discusses the nature of creativity and inspiration. Looking at the concept of genius throughout history, her idea that creative genius is something that visits you rather than something you are is fascinating.   Brian Paterson suggests: Benjamin Zander – The Transformative Power of Classical Music   Not unlike a great piece of classical music, Maestro Zander’s TED Talk begins with a simple theme, expands it through a series of permutations and variations, and ultimately arrives at a sublimely beautiful resolution of sublime beauty. In 18 short minutes, he not only proves the universality of the art form, but offers inspiring insight into the life lessons it can impart.   Shona Wercholuk suggests: Kirby Ferguson – Everything is a Remix   Kirby Ferguson argues that many people we view as creative powerhouses have taken other people’s ideas, and transformed them into something new. When discussing the Patent Act, which likens creativity to property, Kirby says, “creative works may be kind of like property, but it’s a property that we’re all building on, and creations can only take route and grow once that ground has been prepared.” I like his notion that creation is the result of the efforts of more than one person, and I find this belief in togetherness inspiring.  

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Five Best Practices to a Winning Headline

Whether you’re writing a press release, blog post, advertisement, or email – its overall effectiveness comes down to the headline.     Ask any seasoned journalist, copy editor, or PR professional and they’ll tell you: Write a catchy headline and you’ve grabbed their attention; write a bad one and they’re not reading another word.   With so much riding on so little language, crafting the perfect headline can be a daunting task for even the most experienced writers.   With this in mind, here are five tips to help you construct a winning headline:   First things first, write the headline last.   A headline is the purest distillation of all that lies ahead – and it’s challenging to craft without actually knowing what is coming up.   Once you’ve written your body copy, go back through it and think about how it can be cleverly and effectively boiled down. It may feel backwards, but you’ll be surprised how much easier it is to determine a clear message and the key point of your content.   Keep it short. Less is more.   Be ruthless, be specific and cut your message down to its most basic form. The internet has turned us into a culture of scanners, with readers typically only taking in the first and last three words. Whenever possible, aim for eight words or less.   Less to read means a higher chance of grabbing and holding the readers attention.   Use verbs generously and adjectives sparingly.   A captivating headline should balance relevance and personality.   Verbs increase the pulling-power and believability of your headline.   Adjectives are an unsubstantiated claim and may spark skepticism in your readers. With that in mind, include no more than one or two vivid, engaging adjectives that are hyper-specific to your subject, so you don’t risk losing the reader’s focus.   Give them a number.   Readers love lists. Having a digit in your headline makes things quantifiable and tangible.   Thanks to internet analytics, we also know that including numbers in our headlines increases the statistical likeliness of email opens & click-throughs on ads or articles.   Get formulaic.   When all else fails, try fitting your story into this simple formula:   NUMBER or TRIGGER WORD + ADJECTIVE + KEYWORD + PROMISE   Example: Three Secrets to Effortlessly Sell Your Home in Less Than 24 Hours   Or for that matter, Five Best Practices to a Winning Headline…   Attention is a commodity we’re all trying to capture. And when it comes to grabbing and retaining people’s attention with the written word, a good headline is the most powerful tool in your arsenal.   Any tricks we missed? Let us know in the comments or drop us a line on Facebook or Twitter?  

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LMPR’s Favourite Winter Recipies

There’s nothing better than a cozy meal on a cold day! Here’s a few of our staff’s favourite winter recipes to keep you warm until spring arrives!   LAURA’S Easy + Delicious, One-Pot Turkey Chili     Ingredients   2-3 good glugs of olive oil 1lb of lean ground turkey 1 onion diced 1 teaspoon of salt 1 28 ounce can of diced tomatoes 1 8 ounce can of tomato sauce 3 tablespoons of chili powder 2 tablespoons of cumin 1 4 ounce can of diced jalapenos 1 8 ounce can of kidney beans – rinsed and drained 1 8 ounce can of black beans – rinsed and drained 1 8 ounce can of chickpeas – rinsed and drained 1 8 ounce can of corn kernels – rinsed and drained   Toppings: Optional Grated cheddar cheese Sour cream Diced green onion   1) Turn stove top onto medium heat. 2) Add 2-3 glugs of olive oil to your pot and wait for the oil to heat up. Finely dice the onion and add to the pot. Season with salt and let cook for 4-5 minutes or until onion is soft. 3) Add ground turkey and break up with a spatula. 4) Once the turkey is browned (5-7 minutes), add the chili powder and cumin and mix well, continuing to break up the ground tur key as you mix. 5) Add the can of tomato sauce and stir well. 6) Add the can of diced tomatoes. 7) Rinse and drain the kidney beans, black beans, chickpeas and corn kernels and add to the pot, folding the mixture together. 8) Finally, add the can of diced jalapenos (you can always add a second can if you like a good kick!) 9) Mix well. 10) Put the lid on, turn the heat down to medium-low and let the chili simmer for 40 minutes to an hour. 11) Add your desired toppings and enjoy!   SARAH C’S Cabbage Roll Soup     When winter hits, my favourite item to cook – and eat – is a steaming bowl of soup. My go-to is Cabbage Roll Soup, a delicious alternative to traditional Ukrainian cabbage rolls!   Ingredients 1 tablespoon vegetable oil 1 pound extra lean ground beef 1 cup chopped yellow onion (about 1 medium onion) 1 cup diced carrots (about 2 medium carrots) 3 tablespoons minced garlic 4 cups chopped green cabbage (about half of one head) 6 cups low-sodium chicken broth 1 (14 ounce) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes 3/4 cup uncooked long-grain white rice 1 teaspoon paprika1 bay leaf 1 tablespoon sea salt 1 teaspoon sugar 1 tablespoon Worcestershire 1 tablespoon white vinegar Fresh parsley for garnish   In a large pot, brown the ground beef and drain excess fat. Add the onion and carrot to the pot; saute for 5 minutes to soften. Add the garlic and cabbage to the pot, along with the diced tomatoes and chicken broth. Stir the rice into the pot and add the paprika, bay leaf, and salt. Allow the soup to come to a boil, then turn the heat to low, and simmer for 15-20 minutes until the rice is cooked and the cabbage is softened. Stir in the sugar, Worcestershire, and vinegar. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed. Serve garnished with fresh parsley.     SARAH G’S Delicata Squash Stuffed with Curried Wild Rice     This delicious squash is a great side dish to serve during a holiday feast! You can substitute cooked couscous for the wild rice.   Ingredients   3 delicata squash, halved and seeded 2 Tbs. butter or margarine ½ cup minced onion 2 tsp. curry powder ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper 1 tsp. ground cinnamon ½ cup raisins ½ cup chopped cashews 2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and minced 1 cup cooked wild rice ⅓ cup plain yogurt ⅓ cup mango chutney   1) Preheat oven to 350F 2) Place squash halves cut side down on baking sheet. Bake about 20 minutes, just until squash is not quite cooked through. Remove from oven, and set aside until second baking. 3) Heat butter in large saucepan over medium heat, and add onions. Sauté onions until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add curry, cayenne, black pepper and cinnamon, and toss well. Add raisins, cashews and apples, and continue cooking until apples are soft. Add rice, yogurt and chutney, and toss well. 4) Divide curried vegetables equally between squash halves. Bake squash 25 minutes, or until squash is tender and stuffing is heated through.   ENJOY!

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Professional Tone: It’s All in the Delivery

Be it spoken or written communication, a professional tone will improve the response to a message.     When the underlying tone of our conversation says, “I’m listening, I respect you, and I’m grateful for your perspective,” it’s possible for the recipient to feel positive about an interaction even when the message being delivered isn’t what they might have hoped for.   We’ve listed four simple, yet effective changes in phrasing that can make all the difference when working in service-based sectors.   Make a personal connection.   The standard expression, “Let me see what I can do,” implies that I may not be able to do anything at all. Instead, try, “I’d be delighted to help you.” This shifts my goal to helping you, which establishes a personal connection.   Refrain from using the words “I believe” and “I think.”   “I believe” or “I think” transfers the focus away from the idea being communicated and on to you, the speaker or writer. When the message is strong and clear, it is able to stand on its own merit.   Rather than saying, “I think your audience will love this performance,” try stating, “Your audience will love this performance!” Simply removing two words heightens the confident, positive tone of your communication.   Eliminate the word “actually.”   Using the word “actually” is a subtle way to undermine your listener by implying that they’ve made an error of some sort.   Rather than saying, “Actually, you can buy the tickets by visiting our website. We won’t be selling them at the door,” try stating, “Sure thing, you can buy the tickets by visiting our website! We won’t be selling them at the door.”   The first statement implies the customer shouldn’t be troubling you with something available on the website. The second statement provides useful information in a helpful manner.   Substitute “unfortunately” with an action plan.   Starting a sentence with “unfortunately” tells the recipient to expect bad news. Bad news implies there is nothing to be done, and you can’t help your client or patron with the problem.   Avoid creating a negative mindset before they’ve even heard your complete message. Instead of saying, “Unfortunately, the only two remaining seats I have are in the front row,” try “You’re in luck! The only two remaining seats I have are in the front row.” You might proceed with “I’ve heard these seats are the best way to fully appreciate the level of artistry on stage.” This message shows the patron that you are actively engaged, while resolving any potential issue in a favourable manor.   Finally, remember to smile (even on the phone).    When you smile, you engage your cheek bones; this increases your resonance and adds warmth to your voice.  It results in a more relaxed and inviting tone.     Leave your listener confident that you’re genuinely interested in helping them, and they will be open and receptive to your message.

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