Five weeks ago, I remember sitting down, laptop at the ready, to talk about my head-first plunge into the busiest four weeks of the theatre calendar – Edinburgh Festival Fringe. I remember the smoke coming from my fingers as I had only 30 minutes to paint the picture of excitement, busyness and anticipation for the festival ahead.
At that point, I thought my new job was at its busiest. Oh how I was wrong.
Yes, of course Edinburgh is busy, but it is social busy – fly by the seat of your pants busy – it’s all about the here and now.
With Edinburgh wrapped up for another year, and now back in the office, or should I say kitchen, my fingers haven’t stopped typing for hours, my eyes haven’t looked up from the computer screen and I’m pretty certain the mouse pad will be worn out by the end of the day.
Now we have to plan, plan, plan for the year ahead. First of all, it is all hands on deck to maximise sales for our London residencies as our flagship production Faulty Towers The Dining Experience gets ready for the Autumn run and The Wedding Reception is ready, get set, go to soar to magnificent heights from its Edinburgh success.
We have a rickshaw promotion at the ready, new partnerships to establish, new photoshoots to coordinate, a new launch party to plan, new artwork to create – all in the space of a couple of weeks.
But as quick as Sybil can say “Basiiiiiiil” Christmas will be upon us and we shall be into the new year. In order to be as prepared as possible, work is starting on the 2017 campaign already – not just for the first few weeks. Oh no. For the entire year.
Imagine being at home on a Saturday morning in September, writing your shopping list for the week. Only rather than writing it for the week, imagine writing it for the next 15 months. This is the process we are going through now.
Of course, just as the UK clings on to the last days of summer, the other side of the world is kicking off its slippers ready for the start of long days of sunshine, heat waves and theatre festivals. There really is no stopping it.
In January, Imagination Workshop presents Pip Utton in his debut Australia tour to three cities, Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne, which although on a map look really close together, are in actual fact a thousands-of-miles plane distance apart. Each venue needs copy, images, artwork, marketing campaign, and resources to hand in order to sell tickets.
At the same time, there’s the country’s newest addition to the festival calendar, Fringe World Perth. Then, there’s the second biggest theatre festival in the world – Adelaide Festival Fringe, which is just starting to oil its cogs ready to go into full swing pretty soon. Decisions need to be made right now – do we take Faulty Towers The Dining Experience and The Wedding Reception, or just one of them. Which venue do we choose? What posters, flyers and resources do they need? How can we make our show/s stand out above the noise that comes hand in hand with other shows at these festivals? All of these questions need answering, and now.
Then we move onto March as we get ready to perform in the most impressive venue in the southern hemisphere – Sydney Opera House. Press kits need to be written. Ticket prices need confirming. Again, they need posters and flyers and everything else, but of course different to everything else because there are different casts to consider, different histories and different audiences…
Of course these are just the highlights of the daily to do list. We mustn’t forget the bread and butter too – which includes finding new venues to tour our shows to, making sure that all our actors get to the right place at the right time, ensuring that we keep up to date on social media, coordinating the marketing for our European and global tour, raising money for BBC Children in Need, and of course the odd holiday for the lucky few who need a rest after having worked 30 days non-stop in August.
So there I was, five weeks ago, thinking ‘Wow Edinburgh is a busy time’. That was physical busy, charging from one place to the other, meeting this group of people and that, running to and from stationers. Now we are even busier, only this time it is mental busy. Our brains are bursting at the seams, with every email adding another conundrum and with every meeting another list of action points.
But what keeps us going? The crazy love of it, knowing that if we work hard now, 2017 will come with an increased chance of running smoothly. And we can take pleasure knowing that when we work hard, we rightly deserve that glass of wine at the end of the week.
Blog post – Beckie Smith: Head of Marketing