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Posts Tagged ‘Jordan Roth’

Jordan Roth and Pam MacKinnon discuss an effective audience engagement initiative implemented during tech of “Clybourne Park.”

The 2012 Spring Road Conference wrapped up with a bang at the post-theatre party hosted by NICE WORK IF YOU CAN GET IT last Thursday night after an incredibly fun and informative few days at The Hudson Theatre, The Millenium Broadway Hotel, and restaurants and clubs throughout Times Square!

In my next few posts, I will highlight some of the panels and events that took place to give you a sense of where the industry mindset is currently at, and what people were talking about.

AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: OPENING OUR DOORS 

HOW TO GET AUDIENCE AND HOW TO KEEP THEM?

This first early morning session on Tuesday 5/15 was led by renowned New York theatre producer and Jujamcyn Theaters President, Joardan Roth where he, along with his CLYBOURNE PARK director, Pam MacKinnon discussed actual examples where they were able to engage potential audiences in unique ways.

The session started with the basic question: “Why are we inviting people in to our show in the first place?” The answer was simple and seemingly unremarkable enough: to educate and entertain. A producer wants his show to inform people in some way, while also leaving them with a feeling about that information, with the hope that audiences will then act in a positive way on that information that will potentially get the word out even more about the show. To engage people successfully, though, you need to find a way to make people feel as though they have a sense of ownership in relation to the show. In other words, you want people to feel compelled to root for the show, and you want them to feel motivated to act as advocates, or ambassadors for the show.

To that end, Mr. Roth spoke of an initiative that he and his creative team tried out on CLYBOURNE PARK. During their tech, CLYBOURNE PARK invited students studying theater tech at Fordham Univesity to observe the entire tech process, and blog about it on Broadwayworld.com. These students not only learned a lot themselves about how a professional show works from an insider’s view, but they also essentially became guides to others who were outside of the process in that the students took their personal, behind the scenes experience, processed it, and enthusiastically told others about it. These students became advocates and ambassadors for the show. One of the Fordham students attended the morning session and said that she could not wait to see CLYBOURNE PARK after her experience, that she felt a part of it all in some way even though she was not technically a part of the show, and that she was rooting for CLYBOURNE PARK to win the Tony.

Apparently, when the blog launched it received around thirteen thousand hits within the first day. By the end of the first week of posts, the blog had received over one-hundred thousand hits. Mr. Roth’s feeling was, once people read a number of the blog posts about behind the scenes at CLYBOURNE PARK, what was the next thing they were then going to potentially want to do? See CLYBOURNE PARK!

Some conference attendees raised concerns about the risks of this idea, including how so much can potentially go wrong during tech, and how was that handled? Also, what about the possibility of a negative blog post? In response to these concerns, Mr. Roth and Ms. MacKinnon said that in their case the creative team had felt confident that nothing major would go wrong in tech because the show had already had a production in New York and LA, so everyone knew what they were doing. Also, there was an understanding at the beginning of the relationship between the show and the students that the blog posts would be vetted and edited by the show prior to being put up.

Another example that Mr. Roth gave as a way he engaged people personally in relation to CLYBOURNE PARK was via his Twitter account. He created a contest essentially looking for the best answer to the question: “#iwanttogobackstage at Clybourne Park with Jordan Roth and why?” This simple (and free!) initiative had a 1-2-3 marketing punch…

1) It encouraged people to share their thoughts publicly

2) It created more fans

3) And the backstage tour with Jordan Roth and the winner would be filmed

One final example Mr. Roth gave with regard to how CLYBOURNE PARK was planning to engage audiences in a unique way was through a relationship he fostered between CLYBOURNE PARK and the Discovery channel program “How Stuff Works.” CLYBOURNE PARK would be the first theatre production to appear on “How Stuff Works” showing how stuff works behind the scenes of a Broadway show. In addition to the TV show, “How Stuff Works” also has a website that receives millions of hits and downloads, and the program is also one of the Top 10 podcasts on iTunes.

As the session was winding down, attendees questioned how ideas like these could feasibly apply to the Road. The Road is far more limited in many ways compared to Broadway in that shows on tour move from place to place in most markets after just a week, and so it’s challenging to implement techniques like these when a show is only in town for such a short period. Going back to his opening remarks, Mr. Roth basically encouraged The Road to simply start thinking about reaching audiences in creative, proactive ways that make people feel “invited in.” One suggestion he made to the presenters was to send ambassadors to other markets that have the same shows arriving at their theaters earlier in the season. Those ambassadors could then start blogging about these shows way ahead of time, getting the local audiences back where they’re from excited and better informed about upcoming shows, and creating buzz well in advance of these shows coming into town.

Mr. Roth was a dynamic and generous speaker who proved through example that there are plenty of innovative ideas out there to bring in more audiences, and I have no doubt he will continue to discover new, smart ways to connect his projects with theater-goers.

I look forward to telling you more about other topics that were covered at the conference, so be sure check back here at The ROAD 101 soon!

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