PR takes Center Stage
PRSSA Kent’s meeting “When PR Takes Center Stage: Performing Arts Public Relations” consisted of a panel of three guest speakers Stephanie Keefer, Marketing & Public Relations Manager at Playhouse Square in Cleveland, Valerie Renner, Media & Special Programming Director for the Akron Civic Theatre and Greg Josken, digital marketing and social media manger for Disney Theatrical Group.
The panelist answered several questions pertaining to the entertainment industry and what each of their jobs entails. The questions included the following:
What is a typical day like for you?
Greg Josken says his job involves all distribution of all social content for productions. His responsibilities include checking social media channels to make sure everything is good. Also, looking through other sites and seeing what the competition is doing and learning new technology and how it can help us create stories. Josken explains how he is the project manager for many of Disney Theatrical Group’s (DTG) shows.
Stephanie Keefer says she does marketing and PR for all shows at Playhouse Square. “The fun days are getting outside the office and getting to meet the performers and show them around,” Keefer says. “However, other days I sit at my desk in the office and hammer out spread sheets. It’s always something different.”
Valerie Renner says her days are surrounded by deadlines and talking to the media about shows. She also does work in social media and event planning. “Every day I have a different deadline to meet,” Renner says. “My day is never set in stone.”
What is opening day of a show like?
Keefer says opening day is when all hands on deck are needed. Jobs vary from setting up the cast parties, dealing with the caterer, and preparing for the reviewers and media. Additionally, Keefer takes care of performers and getting them what they need.
Renner says she has an assistant and a runner that helps her set up on show days. She explains how she makes sure that the performers get what they want so they feel comfortable. “Most of them are on the road all the time,” Renner says. “We want them to feel relaxed and be able to mingle with others.”
Josken says opening night for him is when all the planning from previous months comes together. “The hard part is keeping stories fresh and feeling new, like the Lion King that has been showing for 18 years,” Josken says. “Even though that’s an old story, it’s still the audiences first time seeing it and they want that new feeling.”
What is the most challenging thing when dealing with stars?
Renner says all stars have different demands. She recalls one of the strangest things she ever had to do for a star was ship his underwear to him over night from Akron to New York. “Usually I don’t ask questions, but this time I did,” Renner says. “Apparently his assistant forgot to pack his favorite pair and was trying to get it back to him before he noticed.”
Keefer says her favorite thing about working with the stars is being able to take them out and show them around Cleveland. She says she loves to see them fall in love with the city while getting to know them and the places they traveled as well.
What advice would you give to students who are interested in entering the entertainment industry?
Keefer told students to be prepared for long hours and doing work even when you’re at home. “Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and try new things,” Keefer adds. “Ask questions and push yourself.”
Renner tells students to find what they are passionate about. “Make sure you love what your doing and success with follow,” Renner says. “If you love your job it won’t feel like work. Make sure your passionate about what you choose to do.”
Josken advises students to be open to opportunities. “Don’t be afraid to take a detour to another job as a stepping stone to get to your dream job,” Josken says. “Just keep building your resume and experience.”