This past Sunday, joined by other members of the Ragtime Marketing Team, I sat at the Washington Duke Inn sipping on some tea and discussing our favorite and least favorite aspects of our time spent promoting Ragtime.
As the table discussed the difficulties and triumphs we had while promoting the show, I found myself wondering what my answer would be. When the circle finally called on me, I replied saying that my favorite aspect of promoting Ragtime was getting to work with the wonderful people on my team. Andrew, always hysterical but never trying to be, Eric the “I’ll hoodwink your parents into buying a ¼ page ad” one, Sarah the freshman who went above and beyond our expectations, Daisygreen who worked tirelessly on the poster designs and much more, Emily who planned an amazing party and finally Nate, my dear friend whom I admire greatly and who helped make this experience a 10 out of 10 for me.
My least favorite part of promoting Ragtime (which might actually be my favorite part now) is learning to accept and grow from criticism. While listening to the feedback concerning the marketing campaign, both positive and negative, I found myself questioning all of our hard work. While I do understand that some of the advertisements could be seen by some as inappropriate, I think back to the large number of undergraduates who approached me and stated that they had never seen a show promoted or talked about as much as Ragtime. I also think it is important to keep in mind that the principals were “acting” in the campaign and not intimidating real life, an aspect that could potentially be easily overlooked.
I too wish that the Duke culture and social scene allowed for a different type of marketing campaign. However, this is the university and culture with which we are surrounded. The campaign would not have worked at another university and, in our opinions, a different marketing campaign at Duke would not have been as successful as ours was in reaching all types of student groups on campus—not just those originally interested in music or theater. And while we did not fill every seat in Reynolds, I’m proud of the number of seats we did fill and the number of people we were able to touch through the messages intertwined throughout the music and dialogue.
For the future marketers and promoters of shows here on Duke’s campus: if you were not fans of the marketing campaign I urge you to try to yet again reinvent how to market theater and musicals to Duke students like we did. And to those of you who appreciated the progressiveness and uniqueness of the campaign, I urge you to learn from both our successes and mistakes.
Looking back on my experience with my marketing team and in class, I am extremely grateful for the experiences, laughter, stress, growth, and time spent together. I learned about myself as a Duke student and as a person who is passionate about public relations and marketing. Thank you Ragtime!
(Shop hours: tabled 3 hours and participated in strike for 3 hours)