There’s not a whole lot new to add, but sometimes it takes multiple imprints to hear something.
In a nutshell, if you are a large theatre and publish a real magazine style program, you should also be doing a few things with it in the digital world.
First, you should always publish your program in gorgeous style on a platform like Issuu. Put it up there on the web site with other content you want people to find – for current and past shows.
Digital is the way to go. Paper is a lot less valuable for advertisers, it’s environmentally wasteful, and it costs money to create. Digital, by contrast, is infinitely scaleable and can be read by every patron in the theatre (or at home) on their device of choice just like they read every other thing in their life. If your audience can read the New York Times and The Economist on their iPhone, they can darn well read a theatre program.
In the old days, you published paper: newspapers, programs, calendars, schedules, newsletters.
While paper may still be called for, nowadays paper should ALWAYS be accompanied by a digital version.
Why? Digital is where your audience is.
Plus digital is better than paper because: * It looks better * Digital content supports links users can tap on and explore something else * You can gather valuable end user behavior stats from how people use your digital products * You can reference a digital version any time * No paper to throw out * You can email it to someone * The audience you want is looking for digital
So if you’re an old school paper product, you should also get a new digital version to accompany.
And if you are a brand new magazine? You should lead with digital – and maybe also have paper. The reach of digital is vastly larger than paper. With a single link posted to Facebook, you can reach more people than hundreds of dusty paper mags lost in stacks of free handouts around town ever will.
But isn’t the paper experience unique? Isn’t leafing through something like Vanity Fair a saturating physical experience that can’t be replicated online?
Not any more.
With gorgeous digital platforms like Issuu at the ready, you can have the exact same experience. Except it’s better because it’s on your iPad.
Yesterday the example of a local group using Issuu was Portland’s new journal of new plays – Proscenium.
After creating a digital version of their programs (like this one from Steppenwolf), theatres include a link to them in those targeted “Information about your visit” emails sent to audiences in advance of the performance.
So if I’m an audience member, I get an email before the show (because the theatre knows I’m coming), and I can pull up and study the program at my leisure at home – including all those ads. In the quiet of my home or coffee shop, I can read deeply about all the things in the program, and also click or tap through to all those advertisers.
Can you see how this is vastly superior to quickly leafing through pages in a dark theatre when you can’t really see?
Digital is much bigger bang for the buck, right? It’s a win win for everyone. Instead of limiting the time the audience will study the program to 10 minutes in their seats before the lights go down, you create a better experience they can look at in an environment much more receptive to reading and processing. Plus they can also learn all about the play before the show and come prepared.
And what do you do after the show? You send that follow up “Thanks for coming” email (amazing how few theatres do this) that includes another link to the digital program. The audience goes home, they study it some more, they send it to a friend, they read all about their favorite actors. They post a link to the program on Facebook and tell all their friends to see the show. Very valuable. Actually, that digital bonding/branding experience with your customer or audience member is 100% INVALUABLE.
Whereas the value of paper-only advertising is approaching zero. If you’re trying to reach new audiences, advertising in primarily paper-based media ain’t gonna do it. But people keep doing it because it’s familiar. You know that old expression about how “half of advertising spending is wasted – we just don’t know which half”? Now we know: the half spent on paper is the wasted half.
Digital is better all around.
Net net: If you’re still primarily working in paper (or paying to advertise there) you’re missing the boat. And your audience.
And remember, your digital practices are proxies for your core business. So if your audience sees you using the latest digital practices, they will assume your work (whether it’s food, theatre, beer, whatever) is also cutting edge.
Whereas if they see you using outdated print techniques more appropriate to their grandparents’ generation, they’ll assume the work you are advertising is similarly musty.
In a world of dying print and online everything, one notable holdout in the theatre world is the old paper program.
There’s nothing wrong with a paper program, but it is not necessarily the most effective way to transmit the information.
Drawbacks of paper include: * You only get it moments before the show * You can’t read it very well at the show * You throw it out or lose it after the show
Clearly the better approach (perhaps in conjunction with a paper copy) is an online version.
Benefits of digital include: * You can read the whole thing at length before you arrive at the theatre (or while you are there on your mobile or tablet) * You can always go back afterwards and look at it again * You can easily link to it and spread the info to others * It just looks better
One of the digital platforms that allows the same attractive browsing of content online as in your hands is ISSUU.
Take a look at two programs for current Steppenwolf shows.