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The Schmooze

I found this article online and couldn’t help but re-post it here, as it is no longer available on the Back Stage website.

It’s a great recap of 6 time-tested techniques of self-promotion. Enjoy!

Spotlight on Promoting Yourself on Video, CD & the Internet
By Leonard Jacobs, Back Stage East

“In 1965, an aspiring actor-comedian named Mary Jean Tomlin—stage name Lily—began working in a Howard Johnson’s restaurant reportedly so tiny it didn’t bother with the chain’s usual “Waitress of the Week” awards. Tomlin wasn’t fazed: Grabbing the mike one night and summoning chutzpah, she announced, “Your Howard Johnson’s Waitress of the Week, Miss Lily Tomlin, is about to make her appearance on the floor, and let’s give her a big hand!”

The point is that self-promotion must be as ever-present in the actor’s mind as learning monologues, taking classes, and auditioning smartly and often. Whether one self-promotes conservatively, aggressively, or creatively, both the beginning and the working actor must always be doing something to get ahead. It may take inspiration, ingenuity, seizing the moment, or thinking big picture even when circumstances dictate starting off small. Tomlin’s tale, spunky humor aside, embodies the idea that self-promotion makes actors stronger, savvier sells.

What techniques do actors use? In interviews with six actors—Michael Cerveris, Sasha Eden, Murray Hill, Andrea Reese, Paul Swinnerton, and Wil Wheaton—Back Stage identified six major self-promotion strategies. First, and before all, comes a website; it is industry de rigueur to have one. Creating it is not enough, though; you must also learn how to leverage it to advance your career. A second Web-related technique involves the power and pitfalls of email blasts, and a third Internet approach, blogging, is a hot new trend.

Offline, a demo reel, in digital CD or DVD format but sometimes also on analog VHS videotape (though not audiotape—its day is done), is a fourth weapon in the arsenal. The time-tested tactic of contact through postcards, flyers, and snail mail is a fifth way to yield positive results. And last but surely not least, number six is that inevitable art of person-to-person contact: the schmooze.”