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The Essentials

Tips for marketing and promoting your Edinburgh Festival Fringe show

After all the hard work of funding, budgeting, and bringing your show to the Edinburgh Fringe, you’re finally ready for an audience. You have tickets to sell, seats to fill, and interviews to give, but none of this comes without marketing and promoting your show.

It’s important to keep in mind that promotion isn’t just about photography, reviews and press releases. It’s also about:

  • Social media
  • Flyering
  • Face-to-face talks
  • Understanding your goals

As the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society – who organises the festival – says, “Sometimes you are just so excited to get bums on seats that you jump five steps ahead.”

We spoke to Alan Gordon of the Edinburgh Fringe Society, and the Pleasance Theatre Trust’s Jonny Patton, about their advice for marketing and promoting your show at the Edinburgh Fringe.

Understand your goals for your Fringe experience

What do you want to get from the Fringe?

What’s unique about your show?

What did you love about it when you started creating it? Who’s it for?

If you’re struggling to answer these questions, then you’re not yet ready to be chasing press releases and organising photo shoots, so take some time to work out the answers to these questions.

How can performers promote their show?

With so many shows at the Fringe, it can be difficult to stand out and grab an audience. However, guidance is available for those who need it, along with certain tasks that, once done, should make marketing your show a lot easier for you and your company.

Perfect the elevator pitch

If someone came up to you and said, “Can you tell me about your show?” do you know what you’d say? This is a good question to keep in mind, and one you are likely to be asked, so make sure you have an answer. Alan Gordon, who had to endure this question when bringing his own show to the Fringe, advises, “Get that elevator pitch, that 30 seconds, ‘This is the show, this is why it’s unique, this is why you should see it.’ You should learn that as if it’s part of your script.”

Having an answer isn’t just great for the sake of people asking, it also helps you figure out the core of why you’re going to the Fringe – and all the decisions that need to be made. You’ll know your goals and what you’re trying to achieve. For example, if you know your audience is younger, you’ll realise you don’t need to splash out and advertise in certain newspapers and instead, you could invest in a social media campaign.

Spend your energy wisely

You don’t just need to budget your money. You also need to budget your time and energy, which means ensuring you’re spending it on the right things. The Edinburgh Fringe Society runs an event called Meet the Media on the first Saturday of the Fringe, which gives shows a chance to ‘speed date’ the media and pitch themselves. Once again, it’s useful to have that elevator pitch prepared to make the most of this.

Use the media advice service

If you have a registered show, you can take advantage of the Edinburgh Fringe Society’s media advice service. Through this service, you can speak to a member of the team and get help with promoting your show, including writing press releases and everything that goes into that. Thanks to their media contact list, they can also put you in touch with journalists who are interested in reviewing work at the Fringe, so you can reach out to get those coveted reviews.

Make use of PR

Engaging PR is becoming a necessity in order to gain access to the network of journalists at the Fringe. If you’re putting on a show at the Pleasance and have PR associated with your show, the Pleasance Theatre Trust’s press office will work with them to ensure that the right people are booked into the right performances, especially when it comes to awards judges later on in the festival. However, if you have someone on your team with this kind of knowledge already, it’s recommended you let them handle it.

Find out more about what PR can do for your show.

Work with the Arts Industry Office

Any member of the industry attending the Fringe can work with the Fringe’s Arts Industry Office to get an accreditation and request tickets. The Arts Industry Office will then make sure you have industry guests in your audience alongside reviewers, so you can secure a tour or get an agent off the back of your Fringe performance.

A special thanks to Alan and Jonny from all of us at Spotlight for their advice on promoting a show at the Fringe!

More Edinburgh Festival Fringe advice:

Photo credit: David Montieth-Hodge