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Flash View, 9-17: Blessed by the Press
The Annual Dance Insider Best of the NYC (and one European) Publicists List

By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2002 The Dance Insider

Unless you are a fantastic writer with an address book full of critics and editors you know personally, if you're planning a dance season, please do everyone a favor -- yourself, your legions of fans, the dance media -- and hire a professional publicist. No budget? Fundraise for it. As Joe Pulitzer once said, "Without adequate publicity, all efforts fail." Herewith are five publicists to ensure that your concert will not want for media attention. While I've ranked them in descending order by my personal preference, they're all good and will give you 100 percent. In choosing the best match for you, you'll want to weigh other factors, including what previous clients say about them, where they've placed stories, cost, familiarity with your work or at least your type of work, and how the two of you get along. With all respect to your dancers, the publicist is the most important person you'll hire during the course of your season; you should genuinely like and trust each other.

This list does not include publicists who work full-time for presenters, because they would not be available for outside companies to hire. Although if either Nolini Barretto from Dance Theater Workshop or Lauren Daniluk from the New 42nd Street ever decided to open their own agencies, they wouldn't go hungry, even in this town. Er, that town. Speaking of towns, the list is mostly confined to New York because that's what I know. I also know Europe, and for the first time, am happy to include the name of a European publicist, should your NYC publicist do so well by you that you start getting offers to tour abroad.

With the final caveat that the following represents only my opinion and not necessarily that of anyone else on the DI staff, here they come:

1. Kevin P. McAnarney of KPM Associates. E-mail: KPMAssociates@aol.com. Kevin should be your first call for several reasons, including his winning manner with the press and his responsiveness to the press. Kevin was the national press rep for American Ballet Theatre a couple of seasons ago and was up at 7 every morning to advise press of casting changes and answer their questions and ticket requests. He also is legendary in getting out press releases months if not a year in advance -- crucial for companies trying to secure coverage in monthly magazines or the New York Times. Finally, he offers this unique combination: Elite in his experience, Kevin is also real in his manner.

2. Grant Lindsey: E-mail: Grantlnds@aol.com. Long respected for his cool manner, Grant really stepped up his intensity this year. While nice guys may not always finish last, if they're publicists, it helps if that niceness is leavened with a dollop of assertiveness. Representing Peter Pucci Plus Dancers this year, Grant scored a major coupe by placing a feature on a work which was not new in the Sunday Times. "His approach," says company administrative director Ellen Sirot, "was a great example of determination, ingenuity and hard work. He layered his strategies -- working from several angles at once -- finding interest and pursuing on many different levels." In addition to the Times coverage, Grant also won features in Newsday and on television.

The ink on the Pucci Times placement was hardly dry when Grant placed another, this time a first feature on the Dancenow/nyc festival, and a first feature (Times-wise) by Chris Dohse. His approach was textbook: The feature was reportedly secured by another dance journalist, Wendy Perron, and a publicist, Grant, working on an editor, Sunday dance editor Fletcher Roberts, to assign the story to a specific writer, Chris. In New York especially, a good dance publicist realizes that the most effective approach is to involve a specific writer in the pitch early on, and will know to cultivate not just editors, but writers, and even freelance writers.

3. (Tie.) Ellen Jacobs Associates. E-mail: ejassociates@earthlink.net. With clients like the Joyce Theater, Paul Taylor, Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane, Parsons Dance Company and, this just in, Dance Theater Workshop, as dance publicists go, Ellen Jacobs is the big time. Ellen's finest moment probably came when she responded, on behalf of Jones, to The New Yorker's famous 'Victim Art' piece by Arlene Croce; a good publicist will not be afraid to tangle with the media when she believes her client's interests warrant it. Ellen really cares. She also knows how to cultivate important editors and writers while at the same time being genuine and authentic. No one bar no one has cultivated the Sunday dance editors of the Times like Ellen Jacobs. Ellen's dedication to the field is also unquestioned; a publicist with her drive and talent could be earning much more in other sectors. I sometimes hear whining that Ellen is too expensive. Well, one, she isn't in this for the money, and two, you want caviar, you pay for it. Says Gray Montague, executive director of Parsons: "I consider her the best in the biz."

3. (Tie) William Murray. E-mail: WilMurray@aol.com. Bill Murray is also big time. The former head PR honcho at the Brooklyn Academy of Music currently represents Mark Morris, Gina Gibney, and PS 1, among others. His experience at BAM gives Bill a cross-genre authority which shows in his press releases -- the best in the business. Among publicists, Bill's releases comes as close as a publicist can hope to get to striking an objective tone; they are dense with information (that's good), and light on unnecessary superlatives. Bill commands wide respect from editors; his press releases are read.

5. Tom D'Ambrosio, Richard Kornberg & Associates: E-mail: Tomdamb@aol.com. Kornberg, a Broadway heavy-hitter, does not do a lot of dance, and what it does is handed to Tom, who is as professional as they come, not to mention hip and knowledgeable.

Special Mention, for those touring to Europe:

Margherita Mantero: E-mail through December: m.mantero@festival-automne.com. With Remi Fort comprising the Service de Presse for both the Festival d'Automne de Paris and Rencontres Choregraphiques Internationales de Seine-Saint Denis, Magherita is one of the few publicists I've encountered in France and Belgium who have a view of dance and the importance of dance media that extends across the Atlantic. More important for your purposes, touring dance artist, is that she does not accept no for an answer. This is good.

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