Always Look on the Bright Side of Life…Promoting Spamalot in Eugene


I was recently approached by Heather Fornataro of Powder Hound Marketing with an offer of two free tickets to Spamalot in exchange for a tweet or blog post about the show and specifically a tweet or blog with a promotion code for others to get tickets. The show was at our local performing arts center, the Hult Center. It didn’t work out that I was able to take Heather up on the offer – I’d already bought my tickets for the next night.. blah, blah, blah. But on Twitter and in my classes, I heard students chattering about the same offer. So I thought it would be interesting to ask Heather about the promotion and how it turned out.

Here’s our Q&A:

Q: How did you decide who to reach out to in Eugene with the ticket offer?

This was our first time experimenting with this type of outreach and promotion. I focused on trying to connect with people who were chatting about Eugene entertainment (especially Broadway related), local press (tv, radio, newspapers, critics), and people who have a large following.

Obviously, people who only met the “large following” criteria weren’t the most qualified for the promotion, but it only takes a few from this group to respond to create a buzz. I did my research on Twitter search & Twitter directories (like LocalTweeps & WeFollow), and found bloggers through Google & blogrolls.

I gathered about 3-4x the number of names than we had tickets and prioritized by # followers, relevancy, and how easy it was to connect with them (were they already following me, could I find an email address). This is the piece of the project that took the longest & from there I was able to stagger invites up to the day before show opening. We’ll use this list for future promotions in the area, though.

Q: Did you get a good response for the tickets?

Actual tickets sold using the coupon code communicated were relatively small, but it did not apply to all seats or showtimes. From reading the resulting buzz, it seems that people were interested in going after opening night & were purchasing tickets. It’s impossible to know if people saw a tweet and purchased a more expensive, better seat for the show. We ran a similar promotion around the same time in Seattle and the code used there sold a significant number of seats. The code was not unique to the promotion I was running, though.

Q: Have you seen much response from the promotion yet? (this may be hard to gauge at this point, I know.)

I tried the best I could to follow up on all of the people who accepted the tickets and record the blog postings & Twitter mentions. It’s extremely difficult to measure the impact of a viral marketing buzz, but the promotion did seem to help bring awareness of the event to people on Twitter.

There were several RTs of the promo code and it was picked up by a couple of media accounts. (Again, this was amplified in the Seattle example). The blogs helped, but didn’t seem to make much of an impact for organic search since indexing of content isn’t immediate as it is in Twitter. The most useful blog postings appeared on media & entertainment websites.

One thing happened that was extremely interesting to me. I also manage locally targeted paid search accounts in Google for each event. Typically, show specific keyword searches in Eugene tend to be relatively small (keywords like “Spamalot” or “Spamalot Hult Center”). I rely on more broad searches, like “Eugene Musicals” to bring in visits. As soon as I started to notice some buzz about the show on Twitter, there was an immediate spike in Google search traffic for the keyword “Spamalot”.

“Spamalot” ended up being the second highest click volume keyword for the entire campaign and there was relatively little traffic prior to the Twitter promotion. While I cannot prove anything, I have to assume that the Twitter buzz did drive some curious people to learn more about the show through Google. It was very interesting to see first-hand how social marketing can contribute to and fit into a larger, more comprehensive online marketing strategy.

Q: Is your “client” the Hult Center? Or the show?

My client is the presenter (NewSpace Entertainment, or Broadway in Eugene). They help to coordinate with the show, venue, & producers to bring shows to venues, like the Hult Center. They also produce several other shows & upcoming tours (101 Dalmatians, Wedding Singer, Walking With Dinosaurs).

Q: Any particularly challenges with this promotion?

Yes!! In short, the biggest challenge was trying to create credibility for the company & offer. I found some great potential invitees that were relevant & had a high number of followers, but had no way to connect with them. I tried to avoid publically inviting others on Twitter so if someone didn’t follow back, I had to ask them to follow me.

As a business, you want to be careful to protect your reputation and I worried a bit about the “creepy factor” in reaching out to people out of the blue. I got a few questions like, “are the tickets really free?” and I’m sure quite a few people were skeptical. The project was also a bigger time-sucker than anticipated. There was quite a bit of follow-up & coordination required with individuals who RSVP’d. In sure this is something that long-term will become more streamlined with experience. I did not get any negative feedback about the campaign, though, other than one person who mentioned that being called a “tweeter” was patronizing!

You can follow Heather at @BroadwayTweets. The season finale of Broadway in Eugene is May 30-31 (Spelling Bee Musical) and you can expect a tweet from me about the show. My tickets are waiting at will call. It’s fun to support my fellow PR and marketing peeps in their efforts and who doesn’t love a good show?

Chris Brown & Rihanna Strike a Chord with Students


Reading through my students’ posts this week, I noticed that several picked up the Chris Brown/Rihanna story that I included in last week’s linky love to write about.

This is an interesting topic with lots of angles – not the least of which is that it’s raising awareness about domestic violence among an audience that probably doesn’t think about it as often as they should.

Chris Brown: Quick Dance Moves, Slow Response Time
from Maddy Hicks focuses on Brown’s lack of response for too many days following the allegations.

What’s Love Got to do With it?: Chris Brown and Rihanna Edition from Josh Damis focuses on the implications to each star’s career.

Rihanna: Navigating a Crisis from Ali Runyan talks about Rihanna’s response and likely effect on her career.

Dude, Where’s my PR? from Krista Berlincourt asks why the stars took so long to respond and offers some advice.

I’m sure they’d each love to hear what you think, too.

Finally, a New Conversation!

I am beside myself. I’m so excited about my spring term Strategic Social Media class that I think I am starting to annoy people. My reasons for this enthusiasm are threefold:

  1. I get to design my own class about a topic that I love.

    I love social media. I am not so good at the technical stuff, that’s not what I mean. I love the idea of social media. The visionary philosophies and the challenging discussions that go on every day about the whys and the whens. I love the potential of social media and I am fascinated by the drawbacks.

  2. The level of discussion is not about how-tos and technical aspects with a dash of strategy, it’s a whole new level. That means that we’re ready for a whole new level.

    The first time we talked about blogs in my principles of PR class, I invited a guest speaker. I had the sense blogging was important, but didn’t know much about it (this was 3 years ago). The next term, I tried the lecture on my own. The looks were glazed over and the response was tepid. I often get a similar response on day one in Advanced PR Writing, but by the end of the term I have a roomful of evangelists. That’s exciting to me. It’s these evangelists that are ready to take the next step with a class like this one.

  3. I get to challenge myself with new ideas and new conversation with a roomful of students who are interested and excited about this topic. People who register are doing so on purpose. I expect great dialogue and look forward to new connections.

If you’re interested in the course, or just following along, you can check out the blog (in progress!). If you’re a UofO student, the class details are in the schedule. It’s a J4/512 class on Mondays and Wednesdays at noon. I hope to see some of you there.

Ducklings Take the Plunge: Blogs from Advanced PR Writing Winter 2009

My advanced PR writing students have been blogging now for a couple of weeks, so it’s time to share their links and help them get connected to the wide, wide world.

Please take a look at their blogs, add them as friends on Twitter and encourage their plunge into social media.

In no particular order:

Maddy Hicks: blog, twitter
Daria Latysheva: blog, (update) twitter
Krista Berlincourt: blog, twitter
Amanda Ip: blog, twitter
Kristen Victory: blog, twitter
Melissa Erb: blog, twitter
Marissa Phillips: blog, twitter
Babe Hoffarber: blog, twitter
Laura Hedges: blog, twitter
Ali Runyan: blog, twitter
Marla Federman: blog, twitter
Gretchen Brandtjen: blog, twitter
Dara Jester: blog, twitter
Josh Damis: blog, twitter
Chris Miller: blog, (update) twitter
Ruth Hickock: blog, twitter

Fun Tool: Twittersheep Herds Your Flock

Twittersheep “herds your flock” and pulls the keywords from your twitter followers’ bios to come up with a cloud that looks a little something like this. I love that these terms are so varied! Everything from “PR” (duh) to “mom” and “guy” (regular folks) to “love” (passionate people in my herd, my friend) and “Oregon.” I’m not sure where “Junkie” comes from. I can’t take responsibility for that. See all my results here and try out your own!

Social Linky Love

With this week’s linky love, I bring you a pretty wide variety of posts that I found interesting this week. Thanks to everyone here for providing such great content to share!

Learn Everything You Can, Then Ask Great Questions (Leo Bottary’s CSI)
Chances are you’re going to work with clients in PR, whether internal or external. Take a look at Leo’s post about that first meeting.

Creating Social Media Rituals (Social Media Explorer)
David Finch shares four ways to develop social media rituals that will help you build a solid foundation for participation in this arena. I suppose ultimately it will save you time, but even more important, these rituals allow you to focus on the fundamentals.

It’s a New Me (As Seen on Google) (WSJ.com)
Julia Angwin shares her story of building the search engine results she wanted. Great tips for thinking about your digital footprint.

Details, Details… Why You as a Young PRo Need to be Nit-Picky NOW (Megan Soto)
Many account support positions, like entry level gigs at agencies require a high degree of detail oriented-ness. Hmmm… that might not be a word. Megan has some great tips for young PRos (and she’s a duck, so we like her even more).

The Power of the Crowd (KD Paine)
Did you see the GoDaddy SuperBowl ads? Apparently a lot of folks are fed up with them and were chatting about it on Twitter… and the competition was listening.

How MC Hammer went from Caricature to Human Being – the Social Media Story
(Ignite Social Media)
If social media can help the Hammer, what can it do for you?

Student Highlight
A Restaurant’s Guide to Social Media from Gretchen Brandtjen

Guest Post: Earn an Internship at MWW Group with 100 words

My name is Allison Blass and I’m a Digital Media Coordinator at a PR agency called MWW Group. Kelli invited me to write a guest post about an exciting initiative (as much as possible, don’t want to use the word “contest”) that we’ve launched this month to mark the first 100 Days of the new Obama administration. It’s called “100 Words for 100 Days” and we’re asking for people to tell us in 100 words “What Change Are You Ready For in the First 100 Days?”

Since FDR’s administration, the first 100 Days has been a time of intense scrutiny for a new administration, and MWW Group wants to know what kind of positive change you want to happen in the first 100 days of Obama’s administration.

MWWs President & CEO, Michael Kempner, had this to say about the contest: “The purpose of this initiative is to challenge America to think about how we can all make a difference. To do our own small part, we’re offering our services, free of charge, to help further the effort to enact positive change. And to help teach the skills of communication to further change America for the better.”

Two winners will be selected from the submissions – an individual and an organization. The individual will be given the opportunity to experience a 3 month long, $5,000-stipend internship at MWW Group. The organization will be given the opportunity to receive 3 months worth of PR support from MWW Group, valued at $30,000.

I have been working at MWW Group for a year and a half, since I graduated from the University of Oregon (where I had Kelli has a professor!). Working at MWW Group has been a great experience and I’ve enjoyed working with all of our clients. MWW Group has 10 offices in the U.S. and has been named for many awards, including PR Agency of the Year by the American Business Awards in 2008. Times are tough in the economy and this is an amazing way to get real-world PR experience if you’re a student or have a top notch agency representing your organization and its effort to enact positive change.

To submit your 100 words, head over to www.mwwpr.com/change. Thanks and good luck!

Your Favorite Social Media Resources, Please!

I’m working with Michelle Honald at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio on a project and we need your help!

Whether you’re a professor, a student, an enthusiast or just a reader – we’d love to hear about your favorite resources for teaching or learning about social media. We are particularly interested in books, but any resources are welcome!

Professors: what are your favorite books? if you teach social media, what books do you assign?

Students: what resources have you found most helpful in learning social media (books, in particular, would be great to hear about)?

Enthusiasts: What’s on your bedside table? any favorite reads that have been particularly helpful?

Just leave your feedback in the comments. We’ll definitely share the results!

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