The Capitol Steps began as a group of congressional staffers who set out to satirize the very people who employed them. Now in its 35th year, the show has since evolved to feature 26 actors and five pianists, staging shows across the United States.
Cranwell Spa & Golf Resort hosted the award-winning musical satire group The Capitol Steps for a limited run of performances in the cultural hub of the Berkshires this summer; the troupe was the first to perform on Cranwell’s new Harvest Barn stage, a 220-seat venue, and boy did they have their material cut out for them this election-year.
This year’s residence in the Berkshires was largely based on a series of skits and tunes that give a comedic nod to some of our most pressing political issues: “Ain’t No Pipeline, Now It’s Gone,” “Shut Up and Vote for Me” and “Trump Acres” among them.
It was clear early on that The ‘Steps were on board with a little fun publicity. We started with web-visuals to help promote the show online, with some help from cast members:
…but we didn’t stop there. The challenge in Berkshire County, especially in the summer, is there is a lot going on – from art openings to ziplines. One PR tactic just isn’t going to cut it for a three-month-long summer residence, no matter how ripe the subject matter might be.
We covered the basics with a press release, augmented by a social-media-optimized newsroom. New and traditional media responded: an interview with senior cast member Bari Biern appeared on the Berkshires’ number one podcast network, The Greylock Glass. Berkshires on Stage posted a dual review by a Democrat and a Republican, and Berkshire Family Focus featured the ‘Steps for the entirety of their run, capping the coverage with a ticket giveaway for a Parent’s Night Out.
We also got to work partnering with as many cultural and media entities in the region as possible, to concoct some new ideas to keep The Capitol Steps in the news. Capitol Karaoke became our first event — fans of all types were invited to meet and greet with the cast following their nightly performance, sing a karaoke song or two, and blow off some election-year stress in downtown Lenox, Mass.
There was also a chance to win two tickets to an upcoming performance, and by broadcasting live and sharing content before, during, and after the event, we attracted thousands to see #CapitolKaraoke content in one night, whether it was in person or online. The best clips were captioned and repurposed with a call to action to visit the Capitol Steps at Cranwell event and ticket sales page.
Berkshire Young Professionals was next to assist, promoting the show to its membership and offering a two-ticket prize during one of their downtown Pittsfield meet-ups. The Lenox Chamber of Commerce helped with postering around town and released a series of social media updates devoted to the ‘Steps, and 1Berkshire included the show on its 2016 Summer Events Calendar.
Next, we appealed to the foodie sensibilities of visitors and residents of the Berkshires alike with Capitol Cocktails. Local Bartender Mitchell Keil concocted two sangria recipes to create buzz around the Capitol Steps, and we shared them online and as a PR piece along with performance information and promotion. BerkshireStyle magazine took notice, publishing the recipes on their blog, in their e-newsletter, and talking about them on their weekly radio show and podcast, The Best of the Berkshires. This trio of coverage reached more than 40,000 readers in one month.
Throughout each project, we incorporated a trackable link to the ‘Steps ticket sales page, in order to monitor the efficacy of our efforts and ensure they were strong until the final performance. Results didn’t disappoint, even during the closing week:
A Lame Duck? We think not.