Distribution Manager George Rennie talks all things print


As Edinburgh Fringe gets underway, there is no better time to be thinking about flyering. How can it make an impact? How can we do it more conscientiously?
Distribution Manager George Rennie draws from his experience on the ground and managing Mobius’ Street Team to share some key pointers.
This is not a blog about the existential future of print. It is a blog about how to do it better!

You can also have a read of a chance encounter and the power of print here....

Want to see how distribution works behind the scenes? Read George's latest blog post.

Print. Power. Politics!

OK, maybe we’re not here to shake the system... But the history of posters and flyers in relation to social movements and political influence is well documented. Now we mainly use it to sell stuff. That’s the system in which we live. And in our own way, print marketing is helping to spread the word, and create conversations about the arts in the streets – in short, to bring people what they want.

It’s everything: posters, flyers, DLs, A5s, half-folds, tri-folds, eco-friendly, concertina, gloss, silk, matte... All the jazzy alternatives. But there’s nothing like the cool, crisp simplicity of a standardised portrait rectangle on a shop-window, or a pocket-sized card containing details of how to find another world.

How can we make these objects work to our advantage?

1. Strategy. Combine flyers with other kinds of marketing. Digital ads to the postcode of people you’ve done door to door with; timing your flyering with a round of facebook ads. An obvious one is where you already have an audience – perhaps outdoors on the mile or on Southbank. Catch people’s interest with your performance (and great chat), then pass your now converted audience a little slip of paper to confirm their commitment. Wherever you are sharing your work, make sure to have something to give to people.

2. Size. A5 seems to be standard in the theatre industry, but in live music A6 is much more common. From my perspective, A6 is both less wasteful and easier to fit into your pocket. A5 can be cumbersome and awkward. Ask yourself: is the larger flyer necessary?

3. Quantity. So many people over-order on print. Think about where it’s really going. How many people are likely to take one. You don’t want to run out, but giving out 100 in a half hour session is ambitious. Spread it around.

4. Design. Keep it simple. Make it catch, dazzle, grab – it's all about standing out. Speaking to your audience. What’s the language? What’s the offer?

5. Information. It sounds so obvious, but just put the name of the show, where it is, when, and who’s involved. Give people something to read and explore. And tie it all together with a clear visual language that speaks to what your show is about.

Once all these things have been thought through, then you send it off. A digital design, an arrangement of codes, pixels and settings combined to translate into tangible, papered potential. Print: the interface between the digital and the material.

Then what?

Well, it’s about conversations – getting people excited about what you have to offer.

Start by being human. Easy! Right? Honestly, a face to a name, eye contact, a little joke, a pitch, a few words of encouragement – that's the main thing it takes. Why should someone care? Don’t overwhelm them with information but tease them into your idea.

There are tricks too. Ways to make people listen, engage, even just take a flyer – you never know when a moment of boredom on the Tube, at home will give them pause to glance over it.

What if you say ‘thank you’ as the audience trickle by? They’ll feel indebted to make themselves feel worthy of your gratitude and take the flyer. They might also think you work for the theatre. (Say anything with enough confidence and people will believe you have authority.) So, they will take the flyer. Big name on the front? Clear pitch line? Something that ties it directly to the show they’ve just seen? Say it, grab them, do whatever it takes to make them take the flyer.

The best story I heard was from when we were promoting a comedy night called ‘One Night Stands’. The street team member was flyering a comedy gig at a large venue, offering the flyers to passersby, using the name of the event as a hook. At first a few eyebrows were raised, and eventually somebody stopped to check that he wasn’t making a genuine proposition. ‘One Night Stands?

Then they saw the flyer, see the heading: ‘Comedy night’ and got it. And laughed! And, most importantly, took the flyer.

We’ve handed out flags to families, combs to kids, and maps to moneyed tourists. West End, live gigs, plays, concerts, musicals. Farmers markets. Food festivals. All Points East!

Wherever there are people and a product for them, we are there.

And for artistic mediums that embrace the material, sometimes there’s no better way to spark interest and generate conversation than by handing over a small, beautifully designed, information rich flyer.

They stick around.

And if you want to know what it takes, what we do to make sure the word gets out about the shows we promote – read this absurdly wonderful bit of feedback.

[Event] Simon Munnery: Fylm School (Rich mix)

Very busy with quite a young audience. Spoke at length with about 6 couples who were excited because of the guests that were at the film school. Again mainly couples and small groups attending, with a majority of the people being males. A few people were already drunk but seemed cheery. Bizarrely, at around 20:20, a mob of people holding a banner that said 'class war' descended down the street, playing loud jungle music and chanting (there were also about 4 machines spouting fire). They then proceeded to smash the windows of an estate agent, and so the amount of people entering the venue started to Peter out.

So yeah, I guess it is still political.


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