"Arena Stage couldn't have been more perfect for me because it allowed me to bring my experience in PR and marketing together with my love for and affinity for theater to tell really important stories," Arena Stage CMO Shonali Burke tells Doug Simon.

In addition to keeping in touch with "an amazing patron base who are very, very loyal and who’ve been with us not just for years, but in some cases decades," Burke is also invoved in attracting new audiences to the organization, and for both social media is key.

"Live performance is just one of the sectors that has suffered so much through the pandemic," she says, and in order to keep audiences interested and aware "Arena made sure to stay in touch through digital and virtual programming. We still have a level of that, but we're also extending our outreach to be much more active in social platforms, engaging with influencers, and really extending and growing our communities of influence."

Burke says that communicators in both the theater world and the business world need to "spend time doing the research on who you're trying to engage with and what about your story is going to appeal to them."

She also stresses the importance of finding "those really human touch points and giving people a little something extra that they wouldn't otherwise get. I think really helps elevate your brand and perception in their eyes."

Data and analystics are other key tools that come up for discussion. "Make friends with data," Burke says. "You must be able to look at numbers and say, what are the stories these numbers are telling me? Because we always come back to the fact that PR is about telling your brand story."

However, "as you start to get numbers, make sure it's not just a data dump for you, but you're really trying to make sense of, if this was my return, what does that mean? If somebody tells you that you had a click through rate of .25%, think about what that number means because it's not really as big as it sounds."

View all of the interviews in the “PR's Top Pros Talk” series. Subscribe to get notified when new episodes are available.

Interested in taking part? Contact Doug Simon at [email protected]

D S Simon Media helps clients get their stories on television through satellite media tours and by producing and distributing content to the media. The company also produces live social media events.