Q & A With Susan L. Schulman, Publicist
BB: As a Publicist what do you find the most fun to work on and/or challenging?
SS: I love handling new plays and musicals because I can influence the way the production will be perceived by both the critics and the audience. Crafting the right description of a production or selecting the right photo to represent the play visually can create the right expectations and enhance the theatrical experience for the audience as well as the critics. I also love working with actors who are on the cusp of stardom. I like guiding and advising them as they are interviewed, possibly for the first time, and helping them make good choices as their career takes off. It is also fun to take clients to designers’ showrooms to borrow outfits to wear to openings and special events. Jewelers too!
BB: For someone wanting to become a publicist what would you suggest?
SS: If you want to be a theatre press agent, you must love the theatre and REALLY want to be part of it. There are PR opportunities in many other fields that pay more so you must WANT to work in the theatre. You need good writing skills and an upbeat personality plus be good with details and follow-through. You also need to handle rejection well!
BB: Can you talk a little bit about what made you write your book?
SS: I’ve been sharing my stories of working with big Broadway stars with my friends for years. They would laugh and say ‘I hope you are writing this down!” Now I have and the result is “BACKSTAGE PASS TO BROADWAY”. I share my adventures with Yul Brynner, Lauren Bacall, Mary Martin, Bob Fosse, David Merrick, George C. Scott, Henry Winkler, Vanessa Redgrave, Robert Redford and many others – mostly behaving with grace and generosity and, occasionally, behaving badly!
BB: As a publicist what is some challenges/benefits being one who is now basically promoting yourself?
SS: Publicizing my book (and thus myself) has been a strange and interesting experience. I am used to making others look good so beating the drum for my own book has been challenging and outside my comfort zone. I decided to treat my book as ‘a client’ and have been delighted with the positive response from the media. I also developed a series of speaking engagements for myself which led to me recently signing with a speakers bureau.
BB: With the ease of the Internet what are pros/cons to marketing/getting press for shows/people you represent.
SS: The internet has made the life of a press agent both harder and easier. You can reach almost anyone in the media if you are willing to do the research and find their contact info. But so can everyone else so your pitch needs to be focused and clear in order to rise above the rest and interest the journalist. You also need to meet the needs of that journalist as well as push your own agenda. The bad news is that dealing with the media has become much colder and less personal. And being a press agent is now 24/7. Writers email us at 11 pm and expect an instant response. And, if you are smart, they get it!
Susan L. Schulman
Make sure to watch this video featuring some of Susan's Stories and then go buy her book! It's a great purchase for any theatre lover!