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Communications and Public Affairs

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Partnership Spotlight: Bernstein MASS

On March 2-4, 2018, the University of South Carolina School of Music presented one of the largest scale productions in its history: American composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein’s MASS. Because of its scale and complexity, the Bernstein MASS is performed rarely. As the state’s largest music arts provider, the School of Music was well-equipped to stage the epic production. To ensure success of the MASS South Carolina premier, our office was called upon to raise public awareness and drive ticket sales.

The Deliverables

  • Bernstein MASS program


    To educate the public about the significance of Leonard Bernstein and MASS, our media promotions included placing op-ed and news stories and hosting local media at a behind-the-scenes sneak peek of the performance.

  • illustration of marching band member

    TV ad

    Our office created a 30-second commercial that aired on television stations in the Midlands two weeks prior to the performances. Not allowed to use performance footage, our videographer created custom animation to grab the public’s attention.

  • Bernstein MASS performance

    Social media package

    Before the performances, this behind-the-scenes video was shared via social media to show how productions like the Bernstein MASS help the School of Music realize its vision to be the nation’s model public music school.


The Results

  • Three sold-out performances and 5,100 seats filled at the Koger Center for the Arts
  • 1.03 million views of broadcast, print and online news media stories
  • Won Best Local Theater Production and Honorable Mention, Best Concert in the Free Times 2018 Best of Columbia awards competition
  • 84,771 impressions of the behind-the-scenes social video across Twitter and Facebook
  • 76,381 impressions of the TV commercial across Twitter and Facebook


The Approach

The production, in celebration of the centenary of Bernstein’s birth, featured hundreds of music students, multiple and varied ensembles, and dance students from the College of Arts and Sciences, as well as members of the Columbia community. We collaborated with the School of Music to help the school raise awareness and to drive ticket sales in South Carolina, and primarily in the Midlands.

Our tactics:

  • Employ an earned media strategy that included placing an op-ed about the relevance of the production today and hosting local broadcast and print media for a sneak peek to create buzz around the event.
  • Create an animated 30-second TV commercial to drive ticket sales.
  • Create a 60-second social media package to convey why the School of Music is uniquely poised to present the Bernstein Mass and encourage the community to take advantage of this rare opportunity to see MASS in person.

These tactics complemented an array of promotional activities by School of Music personnel that began two years prior. These activities included a kickoff event featuring leaders of Columbia arts organizations, the creation of a web page, outreach across campus and organizations statewide, paid print and radio ads and billboards, and a companion Public Music Discourse Conference that brought together music theorists, musicologists, ethnomusicologists, composers, performers, educators, journalists and arts administrators to discuss public engagement in music.

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