getting a crowd

There's no one-size-fits-all, but here are some general approaches as recommended by past performers - plus some specific opportunities.

There's a lot to take in - but it's worth it.

What works in one situation may not be appropriate in another. The advice here is specifically geared for Fringe TheatreFest where a lot of shows are vying for attention.

Read the comments in orange. They're the words of performers who found out what worked.

"If I'd read the publicity document more carefully earlier I'd have had a much better idea of what to do!"

  • Be visible and take part in the conversation before and during the festival in whatever way you can.

    In the build up, respond to posts on the Fringe TheatreFest social media (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram). If you don't have social media accounts think seriously about investing the time - otherwise you're missing out on connecting with significant potential audiences.

    During the festival, make yourself conspicuous. See shows, introduce yourself to the volunteers, go to the Taster Sessions - whether to watch or participate. Be part and parcel of the festival and people will want to see your work.

  • "The key for us was talking it up with anyone who'd listen and and just putting ourselves out there. Completely out of the comfort zone for both of us."

  • Be consistent

    Stick to the same striking image for posters, leaflets, website, social media and press releases.

    Remember there are around 70 different shows joggling for attention. Don't go for the kind of subtle approach that may work in a venue brochure or for a stand-alone event. Reinforce a succinct and straightforward message at every opportunity.

  • Take advantage of the full range of promotional possibilities - and invent some of your own!

    Don't be shy, don't be self-effacing, don't expect your reputation to precede you. Do think of yourself as on duty, on show, for the whole of the extended weekend.

    Performing is just one aspect of your job when it comes to Fringe - attracting people to your show is a major task; it's time-consuming and exhausting and has to be done - and it can be rewarding in all sorts of surprising ways!

  • "I also got into costume etc 30 mins before the show and went on walkabout outside the venue."

  • We promote Fringe TheatreFest as an entity around North Devon and the wider region through press, traditional media, social media, posters, brochures, newsletters, our e-mail list and word-of-mouth.
  • We sometimes focus on a particular show, or set of shows, if we think that doing so will bring people to the Fringe. But our responsibility is to the Fringe as a whole rather than to any one show.

  • Maximise the impact of your company-page on the Fringe TheatreFest website.
  • Potential punters want to know about you – your experience, what makes you tick. They’re looking for more than the hard sell. Do make it worthwhile for someone to visit your page in terms of additional information but don't bombard them with an overload of words. Use images and video where you can.

    Remember, this is the page which they will visit to buy tickets if you’re appearing in a Ticketed Venue, so make it count.

    Send us copy, images and video-links and we will add them to your page - you can't do so yourself.

    "I kicked myself when I saw what other companies had done on their webpages."

  • Mount your own social media campaign but link it to our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so that we can reinforce what you do. You can reach our social media outlets via the icons at the top of this page.
  • Get your event posted on the following Facebook events groups: Days out North Devon, What's on North Devon, Bideford Bay What's on, Events in Bideford, What's on Plymouth and Surrounding Areas, What's on Exeter. Many of these have a Twitter profiles as well.
  • "Social media was our biggest promotional tool - we posted photos on Instagram, which cross-posted to Facebook and Twitter. In them we mentioned the fringe and pointed people to our website, which had a link to our show page."

  • Contact North Devon Gazette - a weekly free paper who are particularly supportive. Email Joe Bulmer: joseph.bulmer@clearskypublishing.co.uk. They also have an on-line presence.
  • Contact North Devon Journal - a weekly paper now edited from Exeter with some local journalists. They put a lot of emphasis on their on-line version, Devon Live. Contact Alex Davis, North Devon Live community reporter: alex.davis@reachplc.com
  • For both papers the quality of the image will be the deciding factor. It must be photographic. A graphic image - however beautiful - won't get used. It must be high res, strong contrast and dynamic. Copy needs to be short and punchy - two paragraphs max. And an anecdote often plays better than a description of the show. Over to you!

  • Contact The Voice - Local Radio for North Devon. Seek out Hopps & Chapple - they are very supportive. They host Fringe companies and tech staff every morning for the week of Fringe. But contact them yourself if you've got a story in the run up to Fringe - or a plea for help - especially if you can get to the studio for a live conversation.

  • Promote your show to specific target audiences in the lead-up to the festival.
  • In previous years, target audiences have included young mums, bed & breakfast guests, nursing staff, the comedy crowd and so on. You then need to think about - and research - how to reach out to these groups in North Devon. The internet is a useful tool. Mount a campaign via social media, email, snailmail, phone or pigeon-post – whichever is most appropriate. Best to make contact at least 4 weeks in advance (ie middle to end of May).

    "I contacted a North Devon book club and a singles' group on Twitter. The singles' group didn't reply, but the book club seemed really enthusiastic, chatted a bit and RTed it to their members."

  • If you draw a blank, let us know what you are trying to achieve and we’ll see if we can help with local knowledge.

  • You should have a five minute extract or presentation for the ‘taster sessions’ that will take place at the Barnstaple Coffee Shop on the Wednesday and in the Tent on the Strand on the Thursday, Friday and Saturday.. These are hour-long sessions of 5 minute tasters designed to whet the appetite. They're largely attended by performers and volunteers plus a few audience members keen to see as much as possible. Don't under estimate the value of exciting the interest of fellow performers and volunteers. They help to spread the word. More details nearer the event - including how to book a slot!
  • "The taster sessions were brilliant. Good way to gain and show support, mingling was good for fringe camaraderie! "

  • Posters and flyers are important in establishing your presence both before and during the festival but keep this in proportion so that you don’t spend out unnecessarily.
  • We strongly recommend that your posters and flyers feature the same image that appears on the website and brochure.
  • We recommend you send us 10 posters (ideally A3) by the end of May. Send them to the contact address on the website and email us to let us know that they are on the way. We will use them for strategically placed displays at the Library, various shop windows and in venues.
  • "I know from previous years that sending posters ahead of time is the best thing I can do because it gives you the most pre festival visibility."

  • Bring flyers with you if you are going to hand them out. We're not going to be leaving piles of flyers around this year. They don't do anything if they're not being handed out. Think of handing out a flyer as the starting point for a conversation rather than something to be got rid of. Have them with you all the time.
  • Flyer strategically. Flyer in relation to something strongly associated with the Fringe - a venue, the Gazebo in the High Street, a banner - so that there is an immediate context. Certainly flyer audiences for other shows - before and after. And anyone wearing a Fringe badge! Some companies have been more adventurous:
  • "We flyered venues and the Gazebo and also local coffee shops and hairdressers - they were very welcoming and engaged. We only brought 250 with us - I would suggest about 500 for the full festival.

  • The Gazebo in the High Street (10am - 4pm) is a great place to flyer. There's a lot of footfall. But how you do it makes all the difference. Don't just leave your flyers at the Gazebo or hand them to the volunteers. You're the expert, you have the passion. Two companies in particular did much hard graft at the Gazebo - hours of talking - and earned themselves full houses with a crowd of people that were not regular Fringers. It can be done.
  • "We should have used flyers. When there are so many people on the streets actively looking for shows to attend and so many shows for them to choose from, flyers would have been invaluable."

  • There's not one single approach that will work. It's cumulative. Establish a presence on social media and on your company page in the Fringe TheatreFest website. Send us posters and flyers well in advance (end of May at the latest). And be seen everywhere during the festival itself.
  • "Most effective were Taster sessions and generally engaging with fellow performers. We did Thursday and Friday Taster sessions, saw other people's shows as much as possible, tweeted about them, chatted on the street, after shows, when leafleting, in the bar, etc"

  • If you're aware of other publicity outlets, please let us know so that we can publicise the Fringe in its entirety and share the info with other companies. We're all in this together!
  • "Word of mouth is crucial. The vast majority of all my publicity efforts go into getting an audience for the first show, because if it goes well and audience members are talking about your show, most of the work is being done for you."