Campaign: The Diaries of Marjorie Simpson Client: Laurielorry Theatre PR team: Bix Public Relations Timescale: January to April 2005 Budget: £1,000
After 20 years in a Leicester hosiery factory, Elaine Pantling, who graduated with a degree in Performing Arts from De Montfort University at the age of 40, decided to go it alone with her own theatre company, which she named Laurielorry Theatre.
Her latest one-woman work combines comedy and tragedy, the story of a terminally ill woman planning a New Year's party, and is based on the diaries of her late mother-in-law.
The Arts Council provided Pantling with funding to take the play nationwide, and under the terms of the agreement enlisted the help of Bix Public Relations to embark on her first publicity campaign.
To raise Pantling's profile and publicise the national tour of The Diaries of Marjorie Simpson.
Strategy and Plan
Due to Pantling's low profile, Bix acknowledged that it would be difficult to obtain coverage in arts publications, so decided to concentrate the campaign around the human-interest aspect of the story. The aim was to seduce the target audience of middle-aged women - those most likely to be interested in the show.
With just a couple of days' lead-time before the tour began, targeting the media with the story of Pantling's rise from factory worker to actor-writer was vital. Bix scoured local and national press, as well as radio, for opportunities for the story. Releases were pitched to specific writers according to their interests, while Pantling was made available for photoshoots and interviews.
Measurement and Evaluation
Pantling became a documentary piece for BBC East Midlands' Inside Out programme. Similar pieces appeared on Radio 4's Woman's Hour, as well as BBC Radio Leicester, Oxford and Scotland. Print coverage included articles in The Independent, The Stage, Leicester Mercury, Melton Times, Wellingborough Evening Telegraph, Widnes World, East Kilbride News and Peebleshire News.
Attendance at the shows has doubled since the beginning of the tour, and Pantling is performing The Diaries of Marjorie Simpson at this month's Edinburgh Fringe. Bix is planning to present its work with Pantling as a case study to the Arts Council, in an effort to prove how PR support can help transform the careers of working artists.
'We had this new page in the paper called Real Life,' says Leicester Mercury feature writer Lee Marlow. 'This story about a woman who went from being a knicker maker to joke teller was just perfect for us.'