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1953-54 Theatre Catalog, 11th Edition, Page 344 (306)

1953-54 Theatre Catalog, 11th Edition
1953-54 Theatre Catalog
1953-54 Theatre Catalog, 11th Edition, Page 344
Page 344

1953-54 Theatre Catalog, 11th Edition, Page 344

Exhibitor Press Relations

A Veteran Movie and Newspaperman Offers Some Advice on How to Establish Better Industry Press Relations

BRIEF: How many times have exhibitors complained that the local press seems to go out of its way to stress the worst elements of the motion picture industry . . . and in this may hurt their business? Another common complaint is that motion picture critics are unfair . . . In. this article the author . . . who has spent many years as a working newspaperman and a representative of the film industry . . . ofers some sage advice . . . based on his own personal experiences . . . on what every theatre operator can do to get a better break on the pages of the nationls newspapers . . . The article discusses the problem from both viewpoints . . . and does much to clear up many points of misunderstanding and confusion.

Until three years ago, I had the rather uncomfortable honor of being what, in polite circles, is called a newspaper critic. In other circles, the appellation was not quite so fiattering and often contained profane words. Many of the exhibitors referred to me as "Sweet Old Boy." Some of them used just initials. All of which was a bit distressing to one who had given the best jeers of his life to the theatre.

Thus, as an objective observer for 16 years and a subjective observer for the


Director Public Relations, Theatre Owners of America

last three years, I think that we have been so busy defending our business against the competition of television.against other demands upon the enter tainment dollar, the high cost of living, installment buying, the alleged infiltration of communism, and other things, that we have hardly had time to point out to the public that the movie theatre still presents the best entertainment-buy for the money and represents a tower of strength in the welfare and well-being of every community.

Possibly most frequently overlooked is the improvement of our press relations *and, consequently, our public relations.


We are always complaining about bad press notices, about the fact that the members of the Fourth Estate do not understand us-but-are you sure that you understand them?

Certainly, generally speaking, he knows very little about your business, your problems. But just as certainly, you know very little about his business, his problems.

The answer should be fairly simple. Get acquainted. Know each other-understand each other. Understanding in H-{FORMAL MEETINGS WITH'the press, such as this group at trade reporters with producer William Pine. can be of great value in bettering public: relations between the press and the nation's theatres.

variably means good press relations, and good public relations.

And above all#please remember one thing: To a newspaper man NEWS is ALL-HOLY.

Its the nature of the beast, so to speak. And its his job-to gather news,

whether it is in the field of entertain- a

ment, politics, sports, or whathaveyou.

You can wine and dine a newspaper man and make him feel that possibly there is some compensation for his small salary after all, but, if you really want to get on the inside track with him, and with his editor, provide him with news. Call him on news tips, even if they dont concern your business.

As an outstanding member of your communityeand if you are a good exhibitor, I am certain that you are an outstanding member*you are in a position to hear a lot of things that might make good copy for your local newspapers.

Okayepick up the telephone and tell him about it. Let him know that you're on his side. Maybe he doesnlt cover real estate, but somebody on that paper does eand if the paper scores a beat, all concerned will certainly remember the source of the tip. That's the best way I know to pave the way into the good graces of any newspaper anywhere.

However, such help, by all means, should never be used as an obvious wedge, or as a mild form of blackmail# just as you should never mention advertising to an editorial writer.

If you have news, heill beg for it, and he'll use itebut if you want your story reduced to a few lines and buried among the obituaries, just tell him: "I have just placed a quarter-page ad in your paper and I want a nice big story." Brother, thatls murder.

By the same token, if you take the guy to lunch, or buy him a quart for Christmas, make it a friendly gesture, nothing more. In fact, make friends with him, period. If you try to put it on a cash-and-carry basis, youlre likely to do yourself more harm than good. Because most newspaper men have ethics, despite fiction and motion pictures to the contrary.

Prime example of the wrong approach was made to me by a distributor exploitation man.

HI know? he told me, Hthat you donlt make a lot of money. So why dOnlt You cash in on your job. I can always manage to slip you a couple of fins each week if you will plant some of my stuff and favor our picturcsf'

My reply would have to be deleted by the editor.

Another distributor field man had the more practical approach, never demanding, never begging, never offering anY' thing that didn't have a good angle for

1953-54 Theatre Catalog, 11th Edition, Page 344