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October 03, 2006



I have in fact gotten this email, and I know at least one other blogger did. Same exact content in the email, verbatim.

What am I going to do? Not sure. I might take the tickets, because I'd like to see it, but if so, no promises to write. That's up to me after I see it...

Lucas Krech

I only get offered seats to the shows I write about. My own. But then, I am a designer, so I am marginalized anyhow.

Alison Croggon

That's pretty funny, writing to you when you've already reviewed it... Some people obviously don't read the blogs they target. All grist for the mill in the desperate PR marketing thing, I guess. What makes me laugh is that I'm getting email invites to shows in NY. Love to come, guys, but will you pay my airfare?

I get free tix for all the shows I review, but that's just standard press ticket stuff.

There's been a fair bit of discussion on litblogs about this kind of scattergun PR, which is not received very favourably. Ie, they say that if it shows the emailers don't read the blog and therefore send stuff that the blogger isn't interested in, it goes into the trash with the other spam. On the other hand, if someone writes a personal email that demonstrates some familiarity with the tastes/interests of the blogger, they might get a hearing.

George Hunka

I'm of two minds about this (really, George? Only two?). On the one hand, delighted to get invitations to free Broadway shows, it doesn't happen often enough, and as Matt says above, the assumption must be that there are no strings attached. (As that assumption goes for any press seats; you don't write in TONY about all the shows you're invited to, do you, David?) And I wouldn't expect to get a personalized email invitation any more than individual print critics expect them.

On the other hand, we need to be careful as far as these Bloggers' Nights are concerned: we're setting ourselves up as a new constituency, apart from the MSM, and any constituency is liable to manipulation. Not that I think, necessarily, that any of us has plans to be manipulated. We'll see what happens when a Bloggers' Night results in a flurry of negative reviews, and whether or not that press office invites us to any of their other shows after that.

I'm not too interested in the Jay Johnson show myself. But Butley? For that, I'd bite.

David Cote

I don't want to seem disingenuous or contemptuous about comps to bloggers, since I (and all my inkstained colleagues of varying worthiness)get comped to shows all the time. It's a genuine luxury, and I certainly don't write about all the shows I see for free. So no, I don't expect a personalized invite, except when they pretend to be personalized invites, like this one. Alison's right that when I get such a transparent e-mail so clearly ignorant, I'm irritated, especially knowing that I could do their job better than them. Which may be what some marketing/publicists hope, that the clever critic or blogger will come up with that tangy, sticky, adjective-laden tagline that captures the public's imagination. As George commented, I'm sure that the majority of theater bloggers (the ones I've read, at any rate) won't beshill themselves for free tickets. In time, though, others may. If I were a marketing guy, I'd have a handful of interns set up ad-hoc blogs for a couple of months ahead of a show's opening expressly to hype it. (That's PR, baby!) Ultimately, though, I think the nonprofits could benefit the most from blogger nights. They can avail themselves of the best braintrust about aesthetics and practices in the city, for FREE. And finally, what do you have against ventriloquists, George? Don't be a dummy: Go see Two and Only! (Please don't quote me on that).

George Hunka

Would you say, David, that it's "ventrilo-riffic!"?

Alison Croggon

*Groan* Spare us, George, pleeeese...

Litblogs have been around as a phenomenon a little longer than theatre blogs, and so it might be worth looking at what happens there. I hear some publishers are pushing their authors to set up blogs to promote their new novels, blogs being the hot new thang among PR types, many of whom, clearly, only see them as another marketing device in an increasingly difficult market. The consensus among blog readers and bloggers is that this is a dumb idea, because blogs that are simply and transparently about self promotion can be spotted a mile off, and won't be read, and any authors interested enough in blogging to do it probably already have their own blogs. (And haven't poor authors done enough anyway, writing the damn booka?)

Some kind of blogging code of ethics might not be a bad idea, tho. Like that special sticker that goes on 100 per cent organic food, a kind of imprimatur of, well, good chemical-free manure.


Out here at my Boston Outpost, I have begun to get these invites as well.

I actually solicited advice from some prominent bloggers and also some mainstream critics here in Boston about the obligations/ethics of all this.

Basically, they all gave a variation of the same advice:

1.You should not feel under any obligation to write anything. (Like George said above, critics are comped for many shows they don't review.)

2. But you also should not feel at all strange if you do decide to write something, positive or negative.

3. When you accept the comp, you should make it clear that there is no obligation or expectations involved.

4. Basically expect that you may not get an invite from them again if you do not write anything, or if you write something negative.

Jason Grote

I hardly ever get these, even in my capacity as Brooklyn Rail theater co-editor. I just get the publicist blasts that I imagine go out to the editors at the alternative weeklies and such. But then again, I don't review shows on my blog or run reviews in the Rail, so that might have something to do with it...


Hi David,

So who's "the dummy" if you get the theatre bloggers yakking about the bad PR coming out The Two and Only?

I mean, the "Web Team" probably even sent press comps to this dummy blogger.

For most productions success or failure is simply a measure of the box office. Fame is no is different than scandal is no different than history in this scenario. “Any press is good press.” etc. The web team'sloppy and slutty PR is good here in the same way that Paris Hilton is good for the Hilton Hotel chain.


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