Monday, 17 August 2015

where is my mind? (#edfringe @ukmixtape @FollowTheCow)

At the Fringe PR Office
I've been to the Fringe a few times, but the direct connection with the show creates whole other dynamics. There's so much to do beyond the actual show time.

The first time was with Machinal and that really only involved being a member of the audience. It was in the Pleasance Courtyard in the days when the BBC used the same space for their broadcasts. Nowadays the Beeb has its own village with tents and even The One Show broadcasts from on-site.

Then Warhol at the (old) Bongo Club, when the following act was Mark Thomas who at the time had infiltrated the British arms industry and was showing how easy it was to buy arms for a dodgy dictatorship.

This time it's Mixtape at the Underbelly Cowgate, which is a seemingly subterranean set of vaults underneath Edinburgh Central Library. It's a very bustling venue with an entrance adjacent to the King George IV Bridge and another 4 storeys below in Cowgate.
P8082002 Underbelly - getting a queue started
Between the 4 storeys are several performance spaces as well as at least three bar areas. Spiral stone staircases link most of it together.

In the evening it rocks and can be a bid mad as the varied shows start, generally spaced about ten minutes apart to manage the crowds of people coming in and out. At the Fringe? Underbelly Cowgate is a 'must experience' venue.

Understandably the venue itself is promotion neutral, so flyers are being handed out in the street below, or along the Royal Mile.

I've tried various Royal Mile walking techniques.
There's the busy person look - that doesn't yield any flyers except from absolute rookies. If I take a camera with a lens hood, I become part of the scene and then its easy to get shows to stop and pose for pictures. I don't get any flyers from this unless I ask. That's even for the shows that I snapshot.
P8081994 Sweeney Todd - The Panto
As an experiment I put the camera away, slowed my pace and walked back through an area I'd just visited. It was hilarious. I was flyered about 10 times in the first couple of minutes.

And then for my own flyering technique. My rules.
  1. Don't hand out flyers to just random passing people, prequalify in some way first.
  2. Always swap a flyer with anyone that offers one. They are usually genuinely interested in the Mixtape show.
  3. Ask the flyering person if they are in the show they are flyering. There are quite a few 'hired guns' just shifting leaflets for cash. I talked to one at length and she said she could shift about a 15cm stack of leaflets an hour.
  4. Identify people likely to be interested in Mixtape (various giveaway signs) and engage them in a short conversation.
  5. Stand around in prominent areas with the Mixtape tote-bag, logo and catchy saying visible. It's amazing how many people notice it. I've been asked to pose for photos with it.

Some ways to tell they would be interested.
  1. Specifically looking at adverts for shows.
  2. Several flyers in hand and smiling.
  3. Discussing flyers or show on the street.
Of course, if Mixtape is performing on the Royal Mile stage then anyone is fair game, but otherwise its best to treat the flyers as a valuable item, requiring pre qualification before handout. And yes, we do have thousands of them.

Here's the Mixtape winners on stage collecting their Golden Mixtape from Saturday's sell-out show (crowdsourced photo)
Mixtape Winners

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