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Comedy Outliers: A Million Ways to Deal With Venue Changes!

CO29final-normal fontGuest post by Brandon Collins and Mike Brown of  Comedy Outliers. They offer advice to comedians and performers on how to survive and thrive in today’s competitive artistic climate.

We Heard You.

We Listened.

We’re Back.

Those were the first three sentences in our first email we sent to our mailing list after the third showcase we held at Webster Hall. Based on the feedback we had received from our followers and our overall experience as producers, we came to the conclusion that our partnership with Webster Hall just wasn’t a good fit. The most difficult part about this revelation was that we had told our audience that it was essentially our new home AND we would now be changing the location of our show for the third time in less than six months. After a successful run of two years at Lilly O’Briens, producing a show for Yelp NYC and getting several guest appearances on popular podcasts we were hitting some rather rough speed bumps when it came to securing a new venue.

These things can happen and while it’s most important not to panic, there’s a few other things you should keep in mind as well:

1. Be optimistic and come up with an action plan! We followed up with our audience to let them know that we understood that they were not happy with Webster Hall as a venue and that we took their views to heart. We also knew that people appreciated our previous location at Lilly O’Briens in downtown Manhattan; a venue that was so random that they felt cool to be in the know about this unique event that took place every month. In the search for a new home, we knew we had to find a venue with owners that would not only be supportive of live comedy but would give us the ability to run the show the way it had always been successful.

2. Keep engaged with your audience! Using our weekly podcast and Twitter account to keep in touch with our following was crucial in making sure they knew about the changes we were making.

3. Don’t be afraid to admit when you made a mistake. We were initially very excited and proud of the opportunity to produce shows at Webster Hall. However after our first two shows, we realized that the venue didn’t quite understand what we were doing with “Comedy Outliers”. Our audience weren’t thrilled with the environment and as producers we found ourselves lost among the many other shows that the venue hosted. The decision to part ways with Webster Hall wasn’t difficult even though we didn’t have a secured new venue at that moment. We had to do what was best for our brand.

4. Be excited about the new changes! Finding a new venue required a lot of emails, phone calls with various managers and hitting the pavement to scope out potential venues. Finding the Wooly was a great success! Not only is it located only a few blocks from our old stomping grounds in downtown Manhattan but the manager is a strong advocate for the performing arts and really gets what “Outliers” is about. In our recent advertisements and promotion we have vigilantly expressed our excite about this “reboot” to our show with the new venue.

As a producer, there will be many successes peppered with a few setbacks. You have to be willing to adapt and show your audience that you are humbled by the experience. If they see that you’re doing your best to give them a great experience, they’ll come back and support you!

 Comedy Outliers’ next show is at The Wooly (11 Barclay Street) on Saturday, June 28th  at 7pm. The show has a $10 cover with no drink minimum. Buy $5 advance tickets if you enter code: “BPT”!  You can also support their efforts by hitting the “Donate” button on their website.

Comedy >

Why Twitter? Madalyn Sklar on Indie Music and Building Relationships

madalynsklarMadalyn Sklar is a music business and social media coach. Though her focus is do-it-yourself for independent artists, she creates, curates and shares content that could be a resource for any small business, especially those working in events. Sklar’s over-arching goal in everything she does (and it shows) is: to enable people to “work smarter, not harder.”

Brown Paper Tickets Q: We came across an infographic about how certain bands were “break-outs” at SXSW if you look at the Twitter numbers around their shows. Since you were in Austin for SXSW and have been in the music industry, would you say that musicians use Twitter well?  If not, what obstacles or misperceptions do they have?

Sklar: There is a segment of musicians using Twitter quite well; however, I have found that a good number of DIY independent artists have not fully embraced it. It’s because they either don’t get it at all or they are somewhat using it but don’t see the real value or benefit. They are not getting a return for their time spent. I have made it my mission over the last several years to teach artists why Twitter plays an important role in their overall marketing for their music. I show them how to reach new fans and music industry professionals. Once they see the real value in Twitter, they begin to invest time on the platform.

Brown Paper Tickets Q: For bands or musicians you’ve worked with that resisted mightily at first, what finally converted them into Twitter fans?

Sklar: I run a popular Twitter chat (#ggchat) for musicians and music biz. I find that a good number of our first-time participants are new to Twitter. There is such a big buzz about the chat that it piques their interest. They are using the Twitter chat to get their feet wet on the platform. What better way to learn than to surround yourself with like-minded musicians and music industry professionals! And the best part is you make instant connections with people. You see immediate results. The chat is fast-paced and really keeps you on your toes. After an hour of discussion in this format, you start learning how to maneuver in Twitter. This is part of taking small steps to learn. From there I have seen participants really blossom on Twitter.
Read More…

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How to Use Instagram for Business

ES_InstagramInstagram first exploded onto the digital scene as an iOS-only mobile app. Now it’s a massive social network with a web presence. Averaging 150 million active users, and more than 75 million daily users, it’s no surprise that organizations are searching for ways to implement strategic Instagram campaigns. As a brand, your efforts on Instagram, or any social media platform, should be tailored to your specific goals and audiences. We’ve gathered a few of our favorite tips to make sure your presence on Instagram is worthwhile and helps you sell more tickets.

Create A Unique Visual Experience
Instagram has the potential to take bland mobile photographs and transform them into beautiful art. Lighting, angles and filters are all things to account for as you snap your photographs. Natural lighting works well. Think about which filters would look best in which environments and pay attention to creative ways to showcase products and services. See tips on how to master the art of phone photography.

When To Post
It’s always tricky to test out what time to post your content. Luckily, tons of people have researched when people are most likely to engage with brands. According to TrackMaven, most successful brands on Instagram post their content on Thursdays. Because the application is inherently accessible 24/7, though, the most likely that a user will engage with you and your photo/video is Sunday. The time of day depends on your audience.

Tip: Limit your visual content to 1 or 2 posts a week. If you want to document an event with several images, live tweeting is a more effective method for not bombarding user timelines and being able to have a 2-way stream of communication. If your account has 200 photographs and 10 followers, rethink your frequency and photo content.

Hashtags Are Your Friend
While there is much debate on the use of hashtags for Facebook , the use of purposeful hashtags increases your engagement significantly. While there is no golden number, data shows that accounts with more than 1,000 followers received an average of 21.21 interactions per post while accounts with less than 1,000 followers who included 11 hashtags with their post received an average of 77.61 interactions (according to BufferApp). We don’t encouraging going on a hashtag binge. Use a few targeted, relevant hashtags to boost discoverability and engagement.

Capitalize On Your Current Following
Cultivating an organic, bot-free following can be tough, but doable. Facebook is one of the oldest social media platforms and likely where brands have their most loyal following. Instagram and Facebook are seamlessly integrated social media sites. Connect your accounts and share content across both platforms. Hashtags will transfer over to enhance your visibility on Facebook’s graphic search and fans that engage with you on Facebook will be alerted of your account and activity on Instagram.

Tip: Hosting photo contests on Instagram through Facebook has proved successful for many organizations. You can organize submissions through custom hashtags. Facebook has strict rules on hosting contests on their platform. Directing the interactions to Instagram through Facebook is an easy work-around.

The world is your visual oyster. We know you’ll be able to take the world by storm through Instagram. You can reference our simple Instagram Guide here for extra help. If you have any questions or concerns about getting started always feel free to shoot us an email at Promo@BrownPaperTickets.com or call (800) 838-3006 ext. 5.

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HOW TO BUILD RELATIONSHIPS WITH BLOGGERS

bloggersWord of mouth influence is one of the most powerful and organic ways to build buzz around your event or cause. According to Nielsen, 43% of consumers are more likely to make a new purchase when learning about a product or service via social referral. Blogs have become an essential part of the new media system of word-of-mouth. With significant following and one or more digital platforms, the right blogger can help amplify your message and spread the news about you and your events. Read through our tips below for how to establish lasting community connections with bloggers.

1. Target Your Niche
Bloggers often have clear niche interests. This often makes it easier to invite them to your event than other traditional media outlets. As you research, think about bloggers that are relevant and influential in your area. If you are hosting a cooking class at a restaurant, think outside of the box and look for individuals who blog about food from varying perspectives. Find mommy blogs about food preparation, food-to-farm organizations, and of course foodies. Every industry has subcategories and target markets. Pay attention to the blogs that have already written about your competitors; it’s more likely that they will be interested in writing to you, too.

TipBlog Catalog and Google Blog Search are a few free resources for searching for interest-specific blogs.

2. Reward Their Readers
Sometimes, something as simple as a fully-loaded gift bag is enough to warrant a dedicated blog post. Even better, the goodies included in the bags can also work as giveaways or contest prizes for their readers. You can also offer unique discount codes to your future events or shows for the readers of the blog. Bloggers work as virtual conduits for your message. The potential for your event to go viral relies heavily on nurturing their readership. Don’t forget to include a link (not an attachment) to photos and videos associated with your event or with the industry the blogger writes about, that would be appropriate to include along with a blog on your event. Bloggers need visuals to keep their readers’ interest!

3. Simplify Your Message
Making your event information easily shareable is key to any media outreach. Bloggers are no different. Organize all of the necessary information for your event including: date, time, location, event images, flyers, parking information, etc. If a blogger doesn’t have to spend hours researching your event, they’ll be more likely to feature you in their editorial schedule.

Tip: Crafting Facebook, Twitter and Instagram-ready posts can help extend your messaging on varying social platforms. If you’ve created an event-specific hashtag, you can also start building buzz around your event weeks before it begins.

4. Build Authentic Community
As you begin your outreach, be genuine in your efforts. If you see them posting an article about your show beforehand, comment, share and like it. Retweet their tweets and start following their work in advance so they’ll have some context for who you are before your invitation. Don’t forget to thank them both publicly and privately for their coverage and treat them like VIP at your event. You never know what a great relationship with a blogger can do for you in the future.

These beginner tips should get your started with your outreach efforts. If you have any questions or comments about inviting bloggers to your events, email us at Promo@BrownPaperTickets.com or call (800) 838-3006 (Option 5).

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Top 10 Ways to Use LinkedIn for PR

Festivals

LinkedIn has made its name as the online hub for finding a job or networking with industry peers. What most people don’t know is its incredible ability to generate publicity for your company or your event. LinkedIn has more than 200 million users, including the journalists and bloggers who can produce stories about your newsworthy activities, and quote you as an industry leader. Read through our 10 ways to better use LinkedIn as an effective tool for earned media placements, and more!

1. Research Appropriate Media Targets 
Look up the media contact you’d like to connect with and learn: where they worked previously, the awards they’ve won, where they went to school, which LinkedIn Groups they’ve joined, etc. Get insight on LinkedIn that can help you to make a stronger pitch through traditional email channels

2. Make Connections
Once you have had an offline conversation with a journalist or blogger, it is fair game to send an invitation to “connect” with them through LinkedIn. Once connected, be careful about which pitches to send them; think of LinkedIn as a private “nudge” to a personal contact that should only be used when you have the perfect story for them.

3. Ask a Friend to Pitch for You
LinkedIn’s core purpose is to make connections – either with people you know or people you want to know. If you’re seeking to connect with a journalist, you can request a LinkedIn connection to make the introduction. What’s better than a friend making the pitch on your behalf?

4. Post Educational, Topical Blogs 
Write educational, topical blog posts that reference the news that you’d like to promote. Post these blogs on your company webpage, with a LinkedIn “Share” button attached to the blog. If you like, you can subscribe to LinkedIn’s RSS feed, so that your company webpage blog posts will automatically show up as status updates to your company LinkedIn profile. We do recommend posting only the best of these blog posts so that your followers aren’t bombarded with updates. Be careful to educate; don’t pitch.

Tip: Blogs set you up as an expert in your industry, making you more attractive for journalists to ask for a quote in the industry stories they are writing.

5. Utilize LinkedIn Today
LinkedIn’s online magazine, LinkedIn Today, has millions of readers that could help you and your company be seen as a thought leader. Email the educational, topical blog posts that you created in step 4 topublisher@linkedin.com for consideration of this valuable placement.

6. Ask for Recommendations on Your Product 
Like a company testimonial page, LinkedIn has a “recommendations” section. Don’t be shy, reach out to customers who are telling you on the phone and email how much they like your products or service. See if they would be willing to share their love on LinkedIn. Cultivate quotes from the widest variety of customer industries in order to make their quotes more useful for journalists and bloggers.

7. List Company Spokespeople as “Guest Possibilities” on your company product page 
Broadcast media producers, print journalists and even bloggers are always looking for great sources to quote for their stories. Make it easy for them to find the right people to quote by listing them, along with a short description on the area of expertise on your page. Don’t forget to link to their LinkedIn profile as well!

8. Start a Conversation with “Mentions” 
In your status update, start typing the name of the media or industry connection you’d like to draw the attention to. Put a link to your press release or online article that you want to talk about in the status update. The media contact you have connected with is informed in real time that they have been “mentioned” and a response will be much more likely than with an email.

Note: do this sparingly so you don’t spam them.

9. Create/Participate in Groups 
They say it’s easier to attract bees with honey than with vinegar, so why not attract more media contacts and bloggers by creating groups! Begin hosting discussions relevant to their beat and topic of interest, and participate in groups already in vibrant discussions. If you post relevant, helpful content you could watch your “connection requests” skyrocket.

Bonus: You can get ideas from topics and questions that come up over and over again in your industry as potential story ideas for future blogs and press releases.

10. Poll Your Groups and Followers 
Polls in groups let you to ask members in the group a question, and list up to 5 answer choices for members to vote on. It’s a fantastic way to gather data for a future press release! Try asking the question and then write, “in comments please tell us why you feel this way.”

Tip: To create a poll in a group from the group’s “Discussions” tab, click “Poll” next to the “Start a Discussion” section. Type your question in the “Ask a Question” box. Specify up to 5 answers for the group to choose from. Additional boxes will appear after you enter your first choice.

Are you looking for more thorough help utilizing LinkedIn for PR? We’d love to talk you through your plan and strategy. Shoot us an email atPromo@BrownPaperTickets.com or call (800) 838-3006 (Option 5).

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Following Through: The Comedy Outliers Perspective

tumblr_inline_mji7sb8wor1qa0r4rToday we feature another guest post from Brandon Collins and Mike Brown of Comedy Outliers. Brandon and Mike offer great advice to comedians, or performers in general, on how to survive and thrive in today’s competitive artistic climate.

The Comedy Outliers have a show coming up this Saturday, March 23 at Lily O’Brien‘s in New York City. Their shows are free and are first come, first served but if you’d like to make a reservation for six or more, e-mail them here.

If you’re in New York or headed that way, be sure to check out their show. It’s rare to see comedy of this calibre without a cover charge or drink minimum. That said, if you want them to continue bringing these great shows to the Big Apple, we highly encourage you to support their efforts by hitting the “Donate” button on their website.

So, without further ado, I give you Brandon and Mike of The Comedy Outliers:

“Why do I need headshots or business cards?”, “Why do I need a website when I’m not even making money right now?”, “What do you mean I need to network? Facebook is more than enough”, “Do you like cupcakes?” To be honest most artists, specifically stand-up comics, ask ALL of those questions at some point in their lives. Even the one about cupcakes…sugar is an entertainer’s best friend. Anyways, what we have found amongst many of our colleagues who are still seeking success and riches is an extreme resistance towards being business savvy about their craft. 
Read More…

Comedy >

Brown Paper Tickets Wins Website Award

Thank you to all who voted in the Seattle Weekly “Best of Seattle” reader’s poll.  Brown Paper Tickets has been awarded top honors in the category of  Best Website Graphics.  According to Seattle Weekly, “Fair-trade ticketing company Brown Paper Tickets not only connects you with the hottest events in town at fair ticket prices, their website looks really cool, too.”

How nice of you to notice!  We changed our website graphics to take on the look and feel that makes setting up an event easy, and ticket-buying a pleasure.  Along with the new website graphics, anyone who produces an event now has free integration with MailChimp, a free, powerful email marketing campaign manager. They can also start ticket sales from their own website, and get 2.5% of the ticketing fee sent back to them if they are using their own credit card processor instead of the Brown Paper Tickets credit card processor. In addition to these great features, ticket buyers can also purchase tickets, tell Brown Paper Tickets which charity to donate a portion of their ticket purchase to, and tell their friends which shows they are going to through social media with less clicks.

Since 1986, The Seattle Weekly has been keeping tabs on the best the Emerald City has to offer, and this not the first time that Brown Paper Tickets has made one of its “best of”  lists.  Just last year, in June of 2011, Brown Paper Tickets won the  “Best Mobile App” award in the Seattle Weekly Web Awards, saying “Turn your iPhone into a scanner to check in and out of events – cool app for event producers!”

Speaking of mobile apps, the Seattle Weekly has created a mobile app that allows readers to carry the list of their best-loved treats, temptations, people and businesses. Get the “Best of Seattle” app here.

Thanks for the love, Brown Paper Tickets fans!  Share the love and spread the word with your friends and neighbors who are producing events!

 

News >

Twitter 101: How to use Twitter to promote events

Fundraising

The Internet is riddled with social media platforms that have changed how and why people engage with content. As you prepare for your event, Twitter can be an incredibly useful and affordable tool for event promotion. With purposeful planning, strategy, and commitment, you can build buzz for your outstanding event in no time! Here are some helpful tips to get you started.

Start early
The awesome thing about Twitter is once you Tweet about something, it is instantly captured by whomever is online at that moment. This allows you to talk about your event multiple times without annoying or spamming your followers or potential attendees. Social media management tools like Hootsuite or Tweetdeck allow you to schedule posts in advance. Utilizing these tools will allow you to design a solid Twitter promotion plan a month or more before your event. For a more detailed overview on how to use Hootsuite take a look at this article by Cosmic Doggerel.

Say the same thing, differently 
While Twitter’s structure allows for more repetition, you should always try to write variations of the same Tweet. Here is an example of a Tweet about an event: “#Seattle: Don’t miss out on amazing #music from @GreatArtist1 June 7th, #FREE http://ow.ly/bnWhz.” Compared to this variation: “Support your local #indie #music scene & listen to @GreatArtist1 6/7, #Seattle, free http://ow.ly/bnWhz.” Notice the slight differences in wording and order. Your event is special and unique, so find ways to talk about it differently and draw new attention to it!

Give love to get love 
The secret behind a truly special Twitter campaign is sharing! Virtual word-of-mouth is made easy with “retweets,” “favorites,” and “mentions.” By tagging bands, organizations and venues involved or related with your group, you are opening the line of conversation to all of their fans, friends and customers. Promoting others on Twitter only helps your chance at getting exposed to friends of friends of friends! You inadvertently build a strong network of supporters while helping neighboring colleagues!

Hint: It’s always good to retweet or support the projects of others in your area or industry while promoting yours. If you help them, they’ll be more likely to help you.

Start a trend with hashtags 
Twitter allows you to create any hashtag (# symbol before a word or phrase), to mark keywords or topics in a Tweet. If enough people engage with that hashtag you can get your Tweet trending in your area, the country or even the world! Short and intuitive hashtags generally get the job done. For example, #SXSW works great for the South By South West music festival. #SFFilmFestival is also good for any film festival in San Francisco. If you’d like to get your event trending in a particular way add your unique hashtag to all tweets going out about your event. i.e. “Huge comedy extravaganza with free booze & live music! #BoozeCom2012.”

Hint: You can easily host giveaways and contests on Twitter by having people answer a question or tweet you with a specific hashtag. This is a great way to boost sales closer to the event while building buzz.

Don’t forget to link to your event 
You’ve hooked someone in with your awesomely crafted Tweet, now you can turn that interested party into a paying customer! Don’t forget to post a link to your purchasing site to close the deal.

Hint: Social management tools like Hootsuite or Tweetdeck have link shorteners built into their interface. This will give you more room to talk about your event.

Want more detailed information on how to promote your events and manage your presence on Twitter? Check out our free resource guide for quick tips, examples and definitions here. Looking for additional help with your event promotion plan? Feel free to email us at:Promo@BrownPaperTickets.com or call (800) 838-3006 (Option 5). We’re here to help!

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Four favorite infographics for social media promotions

Branding

We love infographics. We love events. We love social media. They go together so nicely! For your viewing pleasure, here are some of our favorite infographics on the interwebs.

Event Marketing A-Z [view infographic]

How to Promote an Event Online [view infographic]

Social Media in the New Event World [view infographic]

Why People Participate in Fundraising Events [view infographic]

Know another great infographic? Share with us on twitter (@BPTickets)and we’ll send you a secret swag pack.

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Do I need to be on social media?

A question that I hear a lot while speaking with event producers is, “Do I need to be on social media?”

The short, less complicated answer is no. Managing a social media page is a time commitment. If you don’t have the time to at the very least respond to people on social media (that’s the whole point), your efforts could actually reflect badly. However, if you have a little bit of time and energy to maintain a profile (or two!), social media can provide fantastic returns: it helps build your brand, reminds people of your organization or company and its mission, and is an easy way to directly engage with your audience.

To figure out whether or not social media is worth your time, ask yourself a couple of questions:

Is my audience on social media? Do they want to speak with me there?
Some people do most of their interaction—and most of their day-planning—around social media. When you have an extra few minutes, look for similar organizations on social media. Are people responding to their posts and event invites? You should also use this time to see what people are saying about you online, if anything. Even if you can’t maintain a social media profile, you should do this anyway. Set up a Google alert for you or your organization’s name in quotes. Search on Twitter for you or your organization. Search Facebook to see if you have a Community Page. If a lot of people are talking about you already, you may decide investing time in social media is a wise idea.

Which sites should I be using?
This is not an all-or-nothing game. If you’ve found that most of your fans are on Facebook, start with just Facebook and go from there. If you primarily want to share photos, start with Flickr. If you primarily just want to share video, start with YouTube. There’s always time to expand your presence. In the beginning, keep it manageable.

Who will maintain my profiles?
When making time for social media, it’s important to figure out who’s going to be maintaining your profiles. This could be one person or even a collection of people, provided you have the workflow down. Who in your company is skilled at writing content? Who has the company voice down the best? Is someone in your organization already social media savvy, and just hasn’t used those skills at the workplace yet? If you’re a small organization, bring it up to your team. You could be surprised to see who steps up. Or, if everyone is interested in pitching in, the time and effort could be spread so that one person is not responsible or all your social media management.

What next? How do I get started?
That really depends on which social network you want to start with. The Event Promotions Team is there to guide you through the process! Give us a call at (800) 838-3006 (option 5) or email me at promo@brownpapertickets.comand we’ll help you get up and running in a jiffy. No questions are too small! Whether you’d like help setting up your first Twitter account, or something more advanced like running a video campaign on Facebook, we can help you get going.

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