Extra, extra vintage newsboy
Don’t miss these 7 marketing tips from Newsies!

I’m not ashamed to say it: I’m a Fansie! I absolutely loved the musical, Newsies, and was thrilled to see it on the big screen thanks to Fathom events. For those of you that haven’t seen Newsies (yet!), it started as a 1992 movie musical starring Christian Bale, and then about 5 years ago was updated and rebooted into a Broadway musical. Disney then recorded it in front of a live audience and partnered with Fathom events to show it in movie theaters across the country.

What does all this have to do with marketing and public relations? As it turns out, there are a lot of lessons from the show that you can turn around and apply to your business! Keep reading for 7 tips to apply to your strategy.

About Newsies the Broadway Musical

IMDb.com shares a brief synopsis of the story:

Set in New York City at the turn of the century and based on a true story, Newsies is the rousing tale of Jack Kelly, a charismatic newsboy and leader of a ragged band of teenaged ‘newsies,’ who dreams only of a better life far from the hardship of the streets. But when publishing titans Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst raise distribution prices at the newsboys’ expense, Jack finds a cause to fight for and rallies newsies from across the city to strike and take a stand for what’s right.

Marketing Tip 1: It’s All About the Headline

If I hate the headlines, I’ll make up a headline, and I’ll say anything I hafta…”

The newsies know the importance of a strong headline; they sing about it at the beginning of the musical. The newsies are aware that the headline is what catches attention and gives consumers the desire to read the article.

Do you write your headlines (or rather blog titles and email subject lines) to entice consumers to read your content? It is both a science and an art, and takes time, to carefully craft a compelling, eye-catching title. Digital Information World shares a really fascinating infographic that recommends:

  • Including a number in your blog title (research shows odd numbers receive 20% more clicks than even numbers)
  • Using a keyword in your title, and then writing longer content to increase your SEO
  • Increasing social shares by using both powerful and emotional words like “Absolutely, Exciting, Scary and Ultimate.”

The infographic also shares more than 100 headline templates to use as you come up with a strong headline for your posts and emails. As you draft your content, consider the importance of the headline and give it the attention it demands.

Marketing Tip 2: Seize the Day!

Keep calm and seize the day with a crown written on a blue sign making a great concept.
Don’t wait to start your business’ marketing strategy!

“Now is the time to seize the day! Answer the call and don’t delay…”

You can plan all you want and everyone gets busy, but your marketing strategy won’t be successful unless you follow through – today! If it seems overwhelming, break your tactics down into smaller tasks you can divvy up throughout the week, so you spend a little bit of time on it each day. For example, come up with a plan like this:

Daily Tasks (morning and afternoon):

  • Check social media channels for engagement
  • Respond to phone calls, emails and social media comments

Weekly Tasks:

  • Mondays: Read industry articles
  • Wednesdays: Write social media updates for the coming week
  • Fridays: Write a new post for your blog

Monthly Tasks:

  • First week of the month: Create and distribute an e-newsletter
  • Third week of the month: Review website and social media analytics and consider what you may be able to tweak moving forward

Once you have a plan, seize the day and follow it!

Marketing Tip 3: Get Your Message Out

“…now let ’em hear it loud and clear!”

If no one hears your marketing message, they won’t respond to it. In Newsies, Joseph Pulitzer tries to stop the strike by issuing a ban on any papers covering the story. He knows that by preventing them from spreading the news, he silences them. Jack and the newsies, however, find a way around him and publish a paper with a strong call to action that rallies all the children in New York to strike and make their voices heard. By creating and distributing their own newspaper, they put their message directly in the hands of their target readers.

Are you presenting your target audience with a clear message? Follow these 4 steps:

Step 1: Define Your Target

Start by determining who you’re trying to reach, such as mothers with small children, managers at mid-level companies or young adults without children. This is called your target audience.

Step 2: Research

Find out everything you can about your target. What social media networks do they use? What do they read? What types of TV shows do they like? The more you find out about your target, the better you’ll be able to reach them.

Step 3: Create a Plan

Based on everything you know about your target, what’s the best way to reach them? If they search for businesses on Google, for example, maybe you want to put your resources into blogging to improve your search engine optimization (SEO), or if they’re most active on Instagram perhaps you should build a strong presence there.

Step 4: Follow Through with a Clear Message

As you follow your plan, make sure your primary message stays front of mind, and include strong calls to action to inspire your targets to take action and click through to your website, buy your product or contact you to learn more about your services.

Marketing Tip 4: The Power of the Image

A young woman taking pictures with a professional camera.
Make sure you include compelling images in all your company’s content.

“And who’s there with her camera and her pen as boys turn into men…”

Before Pulitzer bans any newspapers from covering strike news, a young journalist, Katherine, writes an article alongside a photo of the strike; it’s published in the New York Sun. Katherine later writes the article rallying New York’s kids at the end of the musical, and to make it even more powerful she uses a picture Jack drew depicting the life many other children face daily. Even in 1899, she could see the power of the image.

Today, images hold the same – if not even more – power. Hubspot reports:

  • People are only likely to remember 10% of information they hear three days later, however if a relevant image accompanies the same information, they retained 65% of it three days later.
  • 4 times as many consumers say they prefer to watch videos about a product rather than to read about it.
  • Using the word “video” in an email subject line boosts open rates by 19% and clickthrough rates by 65%.
  • Tweets with images receive 150% more retweets than tweets without images.
  • Articles with an image once every 75-100 words received double the social media shares as articles with fewer images.
  • Facebook posts with images see 2.3 times more engagement than those without images.

Do you include images and videos in all your marketing content? It’s important to have crisp, clear, quality, compelling images, but you don’t need to break the bank either. Canva.com is an excellent resource for creating your own photos that you can use in blog posts, social media updates and e-newsletters. You may also want to consider investing in stock photos. Some websites, such as 123RF, have lower-cost options for those that want access to an affordable database of pictures they can use as part of the marketing strategy.

Marketing Tip 5: Watch What Happens

“So just watch what happens…”

Katherine sings about watching what happens once she gives the “little guy” some ink, referring to the newsies strike. Are you watching what happens as you put time and resources into your marketing and public relations? It’s important enough that you should set reminders to check your analytics at regular intervals – such as the first Tuesday of every month – so you can see what content is performing well, which pages of your website are receiving the most traffic, which links in your e-newsletter are clicked, etc. By looking at these trends, you can see places you may want to make adjustments to maximize your marketing efforts.

Marketing Tip 6: Call in Reinforcements

“Newsies need our help today…Tell ’em, Brooklyn’s on the way!”

Although the main characters in the show are in Manhattan, they send word to newsies in other neighborhoods that they need help! Brooklyn comes in to help add legitimacy to the strike, inspiring newsies around the city to join in.

There are a couple of ways you can call in reinforcements to help:

  1. Hire a marketing or public relations firm to manage all or some of your strategy for you. Three Girls’ Publicist Danielle Winski recently shared some fantastic advice for selecting a PR partner to represent your business in her blog post, “Public Relations for Small Business: What You Need to Know.”
  2. Use influencer marketing to build relationships and ask influencers to help you get the word out about your company. Publicist Natalie Petersen explains more about how to do this in her blog post, “How to Use Influencer Marketing for Social Media Success.”

Marketing Tip 7: Review & Revise Your Content

Female hands typing on the laptop with flying letters
Don’t just hit publish on your first draft; review and revise it to make it as strong as possible.

“A smart girl, eh? Beautiful. Smart. Independent.”

Don’t be afraid to update and revise your content to make it stronger! The Broadway version of Newsies made several significant changes from the 1992 film, which I think vastly improved the story, such as:

  • Combining the characters of a newspaper reporter (played by Bill Pullman) and a newsie’s sister into one beautiful, smart, independent female reporter: Katherine.
  • Rearranging the order of the songs, giving Jack’s dream of moving to Santa Fe more weight and adding depth to his character.
  • Updating the lyrics that didn’t make a lot of sense.

After you create content, do you re-read it with a critical eye? In addition to looking for typos and spelling errors, think about ways you can make it stronger. These can be small changes (like using stronger adjectives or active verbs rather than passive ones) or major changes (such as a website redesign). You want your marketing content to be as strong as possible; don’t be so attached to it that you can’t revise it to make it better.