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Flash Advice Corrected, 9-5: Flack Attack
The Best Publicists in New York... & Beyond

"Without adequate publicity, all efforts fail."

--Joseph Pulitzer

By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2003 The Dance Insider

(Author's Note: The version of this article previously posted misidentified a publicist responsible for not getting us a press release, and also left a publicist of the recommended list. I apologize for both errors.)

If the Universe can be found in a grain of sand, the universe of publicists was revealed in my e-mail box yesterday. That's when the intrepid Kevin McAnarney sent us a press release for an event that won't even happen until October 27, the annual gala for Career Transition for Dancers (this is good), and another publicist had still failed to send me a press release for an event WHICH CULMINATES beginning tonight, the Downtown NYC River to River Festival. I only know about this latter event because a third publicist and marketing person, whose job it isn't even yet, gave me a head's up. Also recently, we missed being able to seek reviewers in a timely fashion for Cleo Parker Robinson's season at the Joyce and for the Downtown Dance Festival because the publicist for both events failed to send me the press releases in a timely fashion. These lapses, and McAnarney's commendable consistency, suggest it's time to reprise my semi-annual list of the best publicists in New York, and some choice publicists elsewhere in the States and abroad.

Because this list is meant to be practical, I've not included boffo publicists like Nolini Barretto, Lauren Daniluk, or Darren Molovinsky, already employed full-time and thus unavailable for freelance assignments.

The Queen: Ellen Jacobs Associates. With clients like the Joyce Theater, Paul Taylor, Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane, and Twyla Tharp, as dance publicists go, Ellen Jacobs is the big time. Jacobs'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 has been wronged. Jacobs really cares. She is also careful about the associates she hires; known for their inside knowledge of the field, they currently include the former Jones/Zane dancer Odile Reine-Adelaide. Contact EJA at ejassociates@earthlink.net

The Kings: These would be Kevin McAnarney and Grant Lindsey, who occasionally work together. Both get out press releases way in advance, and both are amenable to sending out reminders closer to the event. They're also a pleasure to work with. McAnarney's press releases are marked by their ebullience; Lindsey's by their seriousness. E-mail McAnarney at Kppm@aol.com, and Lindsey at Grantlnds@aol.com

The First Runner-up: From a media point of view, the best attribute of Better Attitude's William Murray is that he doesn't seem to be selling you a story, but simply telling you about it. Critics and editors regard the former PR director of the Brooklyn Academy of Music as a colleague, not a "flack." (There's a reason journalists sometimes use this word for unwanted fire as a derogatory term for publicists, but no one tries to duck Murray's press releases.) Murray often pops up representing special projects -- those of Martha Clarke come to mind -- and also comes across not as a salesman for, but an authority on his client. He keeps the big view in mind; when I contacted him recently to reach Mark Morris, not realizing Bill no longer worked for the choreographer, he could have passed the buck but instead made a concerted effort to put us on touch with the artist. He's also got the stature that makes him not afraid to bark back, which, when deserved, can have a humbling effect on a haughty editor. Contact William Murray at william@betterattitude.com. Yes, he's that rare publicist with a web site.

The Challenger: One of the best PR writers in the business, Tom Pearson just came on the market for freelance assignments, having left his full-time post as PR and marketing manager of Dance Theater Workshop in June. He also has the advantages of being a)a dance artist and b)a techie. (Pearson designed the DTW banner on the top of this page.) It's no easier writing press releases than it is being green; unlike dance reviewers, press release writers often don't have the advantage of seeing the performance before they need to write the copy. But Pearson miraculously manages to find the turns of phrase that keep the eyes of assignment editors and potential reviewers from glazing over. Try him at tpearson@nyc.rr.com.

The Quiet Man: This isn't a misnomer; what's the use of having a publicist with a snazzy pen or a loud voice if he or she forgets to send the press release out? Tom D'Ambrosio, who's repped Momix and Parsons, may not part the waves when he enters a theater, but he gets the job done: His authoritative, impeccable press releases arrive in plenty of time, and he accommodates the reasonable press ticket requests of critics and their editors. E-mail him at Tomdamb@aol.com.

The Quiet Woman: Everyone was surprised when the capable Linda Verdon lasted more than a season as the out-sourced publicist for Dance Theatre of Harlem, which changes publicists like California changes governors. Judging by the last PR contact we had from DTH, Verdon seems to have moved on. Make DTH's loss your gain by ringing her at verdon@schwartzpr.com

The Cool One: Spin Cycle's Ron Lasko's hipness isn't just superficial; he also writes colorful press releases. When you're repping newbie and other upcoming companies with few or no press clips available, this is no easy task. My one caveat here is that you may need to ride Ron and his associates to make sure those press releases get out to everyone you'd like to come see your show by contacting him frequently at Spin160@aol.com. He'll take it kindly; Ron is also one of the sweetest press guys around, and one of the most ethical.

The Out-of-towner: It's not because of New York-centrism that we've focused here on NY-based publicists. If anything, this list is designed with out-of-town companies in mind. Everybody eventually plays, or should play, New York, and it's the out-of-towners who are most likely to be out of the loop and, therefore, fall prey to a bad publicist. But good publicity does happen outside of New York. If you're in the Pacific Northwest and looking for representation, try Cynthia Kirk. She recently sent out a major correction on what some might see as a minor error -- the school of a member of the Oregon Ballet Theatre had been misidentified in a previous release. Not every dance journalist, let alone every dance publicist, understands the importance of training history to a dancer's biography, but Kirk does. Contact her at Cynkirk@aol.com.

The Out-of-Countryers: If you think a good publicist is hard to find in the States, just try looking abroad, where it can be hard to find a dance publicist, period. But they do exist! Last year I told you about Margherita Mantero, who with Remi Fort reps the marquee Festival d"Automne de Paris and the Rencontres Choregraphiques Internationales de Seine-Saint-Denis. Mantero and Fort have added the Menagerie de Verre to their list, immediately professionalizing that important underground dance venue's PR operation. They've also added the genial and energetic Yannick Dufour to their team and, voila, formed an agency. With this triumvirate, MYRA immediately becomes the platinum press agency in France, which you can line-up by writing them in English, French, or Italian at myra.net@laposte.net. Should you be taking your act to the other side of the Channel -- the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, for instance -- our colleague Rosa Mei sends a five-star recommendation for Podge Publicity. "They're professional, AND they know every press person. They're also very web-savvy and respond to e-mails almost immediately... particularly important if you're organizing your tour from abroad." Check Podge's posh web site by clicking here; e the agency at info@podge.co.uk.

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