Professional publicity is an essential part of the promotional mix in gaining profile for your event and getting 'bums on seats'.

Just as marketing (advertising, posters, flyers and direct mail etc) is essential to promoting a show, publicity - which involves, essentially, free editorial - is vital to getting your event known in a crowded arts and media world.

A publicist arranges press articles, radio and TV interviews, what's on listings in the press and on the internet, reviews and feature articles. The benefits are obvious - especially for companies whose budget will not stretch to expensive advertising!

Press and electronic media coverage also hold more sway than ads - they carry the weight of editorial imprimatur, not just the supposed self-promotion of advertising that can more easily be dismissed.

Cast and the rest of your creative team also appreciate coverage which rewards them for their efforts and gains them wider professional recognition. It enhances your company reputation and reinforces your 'brand'. All of which is not easily done without the skills, the contacts and the time that a professional publicist offers.

Many independent arts producers make the mistake of trying to handle the promotion of their event themselves; most invariably fall short of being able to commit the necessary attention to the task while handling their other jobs. It is an area where expertise and contacts make all the difference!

With experience, state-of-the-art communications skills, and an unmatched network of contacts, a specialist arts publicity company like Watchdog takes the hard work - and guess-work - of PR off your hands. That leaves you the time and space to get on with your main business... that's show business!

Watchdog also uses extensive audience and artist databases to boost your campaign with effective direct e-marketing. Again, this kind of 'below-the-line' promotion is essentially cost-free. Watchdog can also assist with photography, handle your opening night invitations, attract reviewers, casting agents and VIPs to help you make a splash.

In the end, audiences will judge your show's success. But don't leave a stone unturned to make certain you get as many of them there as you can! Whomever you do choose to handle your publicity, don't forget about it!

Remember, putting on a show without PR is like winking at someone cute in the dark: you know what you're doing - but no one else does!

Break a leg!

Geoff Sirmai, Watchdog Director

For a free copy of the new publication "You and Your Publicist", email geoff@watchdog.com.au