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‘Hamilton’ publicist, writing mentor shares ‘The Art of Broadway Publicity’

Thursday, May 11, at Alexander Hall, Broadway publicist and mentor for the SCAD writing program Shane Marshall Brown delivered a lecture, “Talk less, smile more: The art of Broadway publicity.” Brown, a 2002 alumnus of the Performing Arts program, discussed his daily duties as a senior Broadway press agent in New York City and how he forged his career during and after attending SCAD.

“Shane may seem like a strange choice for the writing department mentor, but since he’s left SCAD, he’s pursued Broadway publicity jobs,” said Beth Concepcion, Dean of the School of Liberal Arts and Chair of the writing program, when introducing Brown.

“He’s worked for Pete Sanders and now he’s working for Sam Rudy,” Concepcion explained. “He’s done a lot of different productions like ‘Cinderella’ and ‘Avenue Q’ and the list goes on and on. So he’s writing on a daily basis, and he’s making connections with people to get publicity for a little show called ‘Hamilton.'”

Brown works as a senior press agent at Sam Rudy Media Relations in New York. He handles publicity for “Hamilton” as well as the Tony Award-winning show “Avenue Q,” now in its 14th year. Brown’s latest show, “Indecent,” is the Broadway debut from Pulitzer-Prize winning playwright Paula Vogel. “Indecent” was recently nominated for a Tony Award for Best Play.

“So we’re in the middle of award season now,” Brown said. “I am a press agent for Broadway, and with that comes many, many responsibilities, one of which is when you’re assigned a show, you’re in charge of putting together the Playbill, getting all the bios, all the song lyrics, making sure all the lyrics are in order and the title page, too.”

For his discussion, Brown brought a “Hamilton” Playbill from the show’s opening night. Brown described his career path from SCAD to “Hamilton” as a long but thankful road.

“I put in my time in New York,” Brown said. “Once I was in college, I interned at the Williamstown Theater Festival. So I balanced my education here with education outside in the professional world. I spent my summers in Williamstown, and I also would intern in New York City during winter break, so it was nice to have that balance of college education and professional education.”

Brown said the relationships he made while interning at Williamstown were crucial once he moved to New York after graduation. When he first started in publicity, Brown worked for Jeffrey Richards, a prominent producer in New York’s theater scene.

“We did all of his publicity in house, so it was nice to work for him,” Brown said. “That’s where I got my start, and I’ve been working with publicity ever since. When I was out of work for three or four months, it was a time I was questioning about working in the industry, because it is scary when a show closes, because a show opens and a show will close. ‘Hamilton’ may not be closing during my career, but most shows do have that closing date.”

Brown ended up at Sam Rudy Media Relations through the recommendation of another producer who knew of his publicity work. While at Sam Rudy, Brown worked on multiple Broadway plays, but the 2013 revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Cinderella” was the show during which Brown said he was really able to shine.

Rudy and Brown then approached producer Jeffrey Seller, whose show “The Last Ship” had recently closed, to pitch themselves for “Hamilton’s” publicity, which led to Brown’s current handling of the show, now in its second year at the Richard Rodgers Theater.

“It’s a long story all to lead up to… don’t burn a bridge,” Brown said. “Always know that you will be seeing people you may not like, may have had a tough time working with, but you’re going to be working with them again, especially in a town like New York. It’s small. You think Savannah’s small? New York is also small, especially in the theater industry. And any particular industry you’re in, people will remember you and they will call back upon you when you least expect it. I am so thankful for those that have led me to where I’m at now.”

Written by Emilie Kefalas.


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