AS I SEE IT 4/16: Promoting your indy promotion…from a fan’s perspective
AS I SEE IT
Pro Wrestling: Between the Sheets
Every few months or so, I run this particular blog, since its flagship site PWBTS.com, focuses on coverage and promotion of independent wrestling. I shill independent wrestling promotions sand shows whenever possible. But one of the things that pisses me off is the way indies seem to have no sense about the basic sorts of things that they need to do to promote their product.
Not to mention, some promoters seem to think that the way to draw is to hold grudges against any indy operating in their area. They’ll spend their time taking shots at these competitors online or in print. They’ll tell their talent: if you work for [insert name of competitor], I won’t book you on my shows. From the viewpoint of a fan, if you as a promoter are doing something that doesn’t help you put an ass in the seats…you’re wasting time. Save your time and advertise your OWN product.
What follows are some of those things I think that promotions need to do to publicize their product online. I realize that some people may find some of what’s below to be painfully obvious, but trust me…it isn’t. All too many indy promoters don’t use some or all of these ideas. I’ve seen all too many cases where promoters don’t…well…promote… and crowds (and the talent) suffer accordingly. But that’s not all.
Even in 2018, there are still promoters into the carny nonsense who have actually been told by a handful of independent promoters to remove the items he’s placed online or on social media… Why? They’ve been told by the promoter that “they can do it by themselves”. Meanwhile, said promoters should consider going to their locker rooms at the end of the night, and ask their workers if they enjoy working in front of 50 people or less, and not getting paid… all because their promoter decided he could “do it all by himself”.
A promoter doesn’t exactly need to attend the Wharton School of Business to know that the most important thing, no matter whether you promote wrestling shows or selling cars… is to plug, plug, plug. If a smark like like yours truly who runs a wrestling website, or or posts on social media is are ready to help you do so…you’ve lost nothing, spent nothing…and quite possibly gained a lot. So use us to help promote your own company’s events digitally.
Do this along with the usual (and necessary) grunt work (yes, you do have to do these things…and no, you can’t “just put it online”) of getting up posters, handing out flyers, as well as getting sponsors to defer the cost of your show, and help sell tickets for you… all of which are necessary no matter what kind of fan base you have, the most cost-effective way to promote your shows is online. In short, don’t simply depend on social media, but when you use it, use it effectively.
To repeat: yes, that means you have to do posters or flyers. Yes…in the age of digital media, you have to do old school work. Make sure you flyer wrestling and other entertainment shows in your area in the weeks before your show (ask ahead of time please. If you’re running a show to benefit a charity, make sure they’re publicizing it. Yes, that means you have to ASK THEM if they are publicizing it. Ask them more than once. If they’re a ticket sales location, ask how many tickets have been sold. Ask them how they’re publicizing it.
For all shows, ask local businesses if you can post a flyer in their window. See if they can become a sponsor of your show. Every dollar helps.
As for pushing your show digitally, here’s some of the things that can be done…that don’t cost much (or cost nothing but time), and can potentially help a lot.
USE SOCIAL MEDIA. So here’s the obvious one and the one most use (reminder: don’t do it exclusively). But do use social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, whatever. Hell, you can use even a plain old website (yes, those still exist). But keep it updated. Nothing turns a fan off more than your website showing a three year old show, rather than the one you’re running this weekend.
Social media isn’t hard. Posting isn’t hard. Tweets aren’t hard. Social media (unless you’re talking promoted posts…see Facebook) isn’t either. Even websites doesn’t require technical genius to put up and keep current. If you want to spend a buck or two, you can also buy a domain name like mine at PWBTS.com, and pay a basic monthly fee to have it hosted and registered.
Social media also features TONS of fan based groups where you can share your events, such as We Love Wrestling on Facebook. Start your own social media groups and invite fans to join in. Do maintain it though. Trolls and bots (or competitors) have a nasty habit of showing up and ruining your hard work. Keep them off your digital media as much as you can.
Whatever digital and social media you’re using…PLEASE use intelligible English. Use spell check. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE use spell check, and ask someone to check it for at least basic grammar and spelling mistakes before you send it out. While you need to push your show…stop sending or posting or tweeting info sent in all caps and with a dozen asterisks and exclamation points.
To repeat….UPDATE THE DAMNED PAGE OR WEBSITE. Websites or posts with matches from three months ago make you look like amateur hour.
Tell fans when your upcoming shows are…far enough in advance to let them make plans, so they don’t go to someone else’s show instead or just stay home…not the week before. Your competitor might beat you to the punch and to the dollar if you don’t. Tell them WHERE your shows are, and how to get to the shows on all social media and websites. Mass transit directions and connections help if you run in a city or region where they exist. If not, give decent driving directions to your shows. It isn’t a fan’s job to find your show, it’s your job to make it as easy as possible for someone to give you money. Something as simple as a fan not being able to find a location for a show costs promoters dearly.
When you do these things…tell fans WHO is on the show and tell fans your current storyline behind key matches, so fans feel there’s a reason to come to see the show. The one and only booking related thing I’ll say here: as a rule if you list a “major surprise” for your show (and aren’t eventually naming him or her), to bring in fans… DON’T. It’s been overdone so much it borders on the ridiculous. it puts no asses in seats.
List your next show ahead of time on social media and websites…within 24 to 48 hours after your previous show. Tell the fans WHAT your tickets cost, and where they can get them. If you have standard ticket charges, list them. Tell fans where they can buy them. Remind them of regular outlets or online services you use.
As far as websites go, does your promotion send out releases before a show, or results afterwards to a website (again yes, we still exist) like PWBTS…or the Wrestling Observer…or a hundred others? If not, why not? If not, here’s how…
First, the releases. They don’t have to look like something out of Northwestern University’s School of Journalism. But let me suggest a few dos and don’ts. Again, it’s not necessary to capitalize everything…or use exclamation points and asterisks throughout the release you send to a website. This makes them look like the person writing it is six years old. If you want people to come to the show, write an intelligent sounding presser that makes both your company and the show you’re promoting look good….in something approaching English, please.
PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE use spellcheck. Include the things we’ve discussed above… namely to: Tell fans WHEN the show is, WHERE the show is, how to get to the show, WHO is on the show, how much tickets cost, and where they can get them. Again, any basic business course would tell you that a business must make it as easy as possible for a customer to give you their money.
But you’d be surprised at the e-mails I receive that don’t provide those items and look like a preschooler wrote them. They don’t need to look like something out of Northwestern University’s School of Journalism…but it would be nice if they had correct spelling and at least reasonably good grammar. That’s why there’s spell check and grammar check.
I’ve gotten promotional shills for shows that I had to literally spend 15 minutes re-writing. I’ve refused to run shills for certain independents, because I’d asked the promotions time after time to check them before sending them to me, because they were written so poorly that the companies should have been embarrassed to send them out in public. Remember that your press release/shill is how a new fan sees you. If your press release or social media plug is professionally written (or at least semi-literate), that new fan is more likely to read it, their ass sits in your seat (along with their money in your bank).
Send it to widely distributed mailing lists of upcoming shows supplied to websites. Post them yourself on social media fan groups…everywhere you can.
Even in the age of digital media, send releases to the mainstream press, such as your local daily or weekly newspaper (yes they still exist, too). See if that newspaper has a weekly wrestling column. A number of newspapers and their online /social media have places to list your event. They’ll often run shills for your show. Major sports news sites and their social media are now featuring wrestling blogs. Use them too…you never know what will work.
Mainstream coverage is a Godsend for your promotion. Again, remember all the rules I listed above. If your local newspaper is a smaller weekly or daily, send it to whoever runs a section for community events, particularly if the event is to benefit a local charity, church, or community group. That’s always a good hook (and PLEASE be sure it actually benefits that charity, don’t use it as a come-on).
Send them to your local cable provide, especially if the event is to benefit a local charity or community group. Put together a e-mailing/social media list of regular contacts and send it out to them to plug each and every show you run.
Get your fans to put together an digital Street Team….fans that know how to write fairly well, or provide them with the information to send yourself. Have them talk you up on social media. Make being a fan of your company not just a fun evening, but a responsibility. ECW was the first known example of a company that understood this, even though they were pre-social media. Fans emailed each other. They posted news on the message boards of the day. They called their friends. Fans all but MADE mainstream wrestling publications pay attention to ECW. Those fans were ECW’s best asset, because they felt obligated to let people know about the product.
One last thought: put out results, including accurate crowd counts.
Let me use an example of a particular promotion I report on frequently. A previous owner and many of their fans believed that they often received what they believe to be unfair treatment and/or lack of coverage by online sources, and even newsstand publications about their major shows. In one example some years back, the promotion believed that the Observer report low-counted their crowd by a good 25-30% (thus ignoring the fact that they drew their highest crowd ever). So as in politics, control your own narrative. Get your information out there first…..before someone else does.
I’m not a graduate of the Wharton School of Business. I’m just one more mark sitting in the seats, who just wants to see independent wrestling succeed…badly.
Until next time…