There’s no such thing as bad publicity except your own obituary.
-Brendan Behan (1923-64)
Publicity work can be a lonesome job at times. One spends one’s hours thinking up angles to promote whatever is happening that is in need of promotion. What can one say that will catch the eye of that all important editor or producer?
Once all the spell checked words are in order and the carefully edited photos are attached, off they go with a click of the SEND button, along with high hopes for an “above the fold” presence or a mention during the morning drive time.
After that comes the waiting. For seldom do the recipients acknowledge receipt of these masterfully crafted press releases. I hate that!
(cool!! As I’m writing this, I just heard one of our ads on KUHF!)
When it’s a REALLY big event, a press PACKET is in order, with cover letter, release, flyer, additional information to embellish the release, business card and if applicable, a CD of the music involved. These get sent to select people in the “outside media” world, with even higher hopes (which makes the waiting game afterwards even more fraught with restlessness).
Such was the case this month, because the Music Ministry of St. Luke’s UMC is presenting the American Premiere of Howard Goodall’s Eternal Light: A Requiem on Sunday, Nov. 1 at 7:30 pm:(http://www.stlukesmethodist.org/en/cev/654).
This is a really big deal, an amazing presentation of spectacular music performed for the first time LIVE in the whole North American continent. I think that’s pretty special, don’t you?
Our local NPR station (the above mentioned KUHF) runs a daily show called “The Front Row” on which they interview selected artists who are presenting upcoming shows, exhibits, performances, readings and the like. On three previous occasions, I’ve been successful in scoring an interview spot on this show for various performances, and I had extra high hopes for this premiere.
I waited and waited for some sign, followed up via e-mail twice and waited some more. As the key week progressed with no reply, I became more and more disappointed. And then came last Friday, the very last day possible for something to happen.
EUREKA! I awoke to an e-mail from the producer confirming that he’d like to interview our music director (Sid Davis) and the composer of the piece (Howard Goodall). All that remained was to coordinate everybody’s schedule, bearing in mind the time differences between Texas and England. Flurries of e-mails went back and forth between all parties, and it was decided that Monday was the best day, first thing in the morning for the Texans, mid afternoon for the British connection.
Arriving at the studio, one checks in and gets a visitor pass. The waiting room upstairs is essentially a hallway, and folks come and go; there is always something to see, and great people watching. One never knows who may walk by! Unlike previous visits there, this time I was invited back to watch the recording session, as the particular studio involved was much larger and had room for a quiet little mouse in the corner.
It’s all very high tech with microphone stations/headsets for participants around the table and a wall of computer equipment and screens that boggled my Luddite sensibilities. After a bit of technological difficulties, all was ready, and once Howard was on the phone, the interview began. I could hear what Sid and the host, St. John Flynn, were saying, but not Howard. It was really fascinating to watch the whole process. Exciting, too!
Inside the studio, one cannot tell if it is day or night, sunny or rainy. We emerged to a literal monsoon, and had to wait awhile for it to abate. Luckily, I anticipated the rain and had brought my flip flops, so I waded out to fetch Donnie Ray without ruining my good shoes.
The actual interview aired on Wednesday, and while a great deal got left on the cutting floor (they were in the midst of their semi-annual fundraiser, so that shortened each segment of the show), it was still thrilling to hear it and an excerpt of the music.
(to hear it, go to http://app1.kuhf.org/houston_public_radio-the_front_row.php and search the Archives for Wednesday, Oct. 28)
We are hopeful for a good turnout on Sunday, and if there is, we can credit KUHF for much of it. For you see, The Houston Chronicle editors (our only major citywide paper) not only didn’t respond to my press packets, they didn’t even run a mention of the concert AT ALL. Which is quite “irksome”, to put it kindly.
Oh well, from the bottom of the roller coaster ride, I have gone to the very pinnacle, and now am back down again. This is my life. And now it’s on to the next challenge: Advent performing arts events (despite the fact that it isn’t even Halloween yet). This explains why I never know what day it actually is…
I hope to see you Sunday; bring kleenex. It’s that powerful.