Case Study: Campaign Leads to Sold Out Premier of Original Play


Winner of a Keystone Award from the Central PA Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America

Jacob Shallus in The Hand That Holds The Quill play
Photography Credit: Creighton Smith

“Without the services of PRworks, I doubt The Hand That Holds The Quill would have been sold out. I never could have gotten the extensive media coverage on my own. Emails were always promptly and pleasantly answered with every question addressed. Working with PRworks has been an absolute pleasure and a very wise business decision.”

Cindy Rock Dlugolecki, Playwright

The Challenge

Tracing one’s family history has become a favorite pastime. When looking back through generations, ordinary people occasionally discover someone on their family tree of historical significance. For playwright Cindy Rock Dlugolecki, that person is Jacob Shallus, who in 1787 became the scribe for the original copy of the U.S. Constitution.

Shallus, Dlugolecki’s first cousin six-times removed, inspired the creation of The Hand That Holds The Quill, an original play written by Dlugolecki and that debuted in the fall of 2021 on the stage of Capital BlueCross Theatre at Central Penn College in Summerdale, PA.

While Shallus is the play’s inspiration, The Hand That Holds The Quill focuses on the women connected to Shallus and their role and influence during the moment in time that he penned the parchments of the Constitution. The play also recognizes the wives of delegates who framed the Constitution and African Americans of the AME Church who were advocating for the abolition of slavery and literacy for the Black community.

To promote the play’s premier performances, the playwright turned to PRworks to lead a media relations campaign.

The Approach

In collaboration with the playwright and production team, PRworks developed a media relations plan to create a public profile for The Hand That Holds The Quill to generate interest in the play’s premier performances and generate ticket sales.

The approach included:

  • Researching Central Pennsylvania journalists and media outlets to target
  • Developing a media relations strategy including key messages, story angles and a roadmap
  • Acquiring multimedia assets including show art, photography, videos, music and historical artifacts as visuals
  • Preparing the playwright for media interviews
  • Activating media monitoring
  • Developing and distributing an announcement press release and a follow-up press release
  • Sustained pitching and follow-ups to target news media
  • Coordinating media opportunities

In addition to PRworks’ scope of work to promote The Hand That Holds The Quill, the firm developed a website for the playwright and her new production:

The Results

All three premier performances of The Hand That Holds The Quill were SOLD OUT. The Hand That Holds The Quill was featured in one live TV broadcast, one live radio interview and six online media outlets, earning a total audience reach of over 1 million in the Central Pennsylvania market.

TV Broadcast

Dlugolecki was featured on Good Day PA on ABC27, which reached the target area of Harrisburg and the greater Central Pennsylvania region. The live segment featured an interview, a display of props, slides of rehearsal photos and ticketing information. The interview focused on the inspiration for the play and Dlugolecki’s family history; the plot of the play; historical elements and figures in the play; and the playwright’s creative liberties.

The segment and an accompanying article also were posted on the station’s website. Additionally, the segment was posted to Good Day PA’s social media accounts, reaching a potential audience of almost 15,500 followers.

Radio Interview

Dlugolecki and Chris Purcell, the play’s music composer, were interviewed by Scott LaMar on a live morning episode of WITF’s Smart Talk Radio. The episode was replayed in the evening and posted on WITF’s website with an accompanying article. The episode also was posted to Smart Talk’s Twitter account.

Print and Online Media Outlets

The Hand That Holds The Quill was featured in six target print and online media outlets:

  • Harrisburg Magazine
  • PennLive
  • The Sentinel
  • TheBurg
  • TownLively
  • Sara Bozich: Weekend Roundup

Following up on the campaign’s success, Dlugolecki and PRworks continued their partnership to promote performances of the playwright’s play Violet Oakley at Open Stage theatre in Harrisburg. The one-woman play tells the story of groundbreaking female artist who completed over 40 murals in the Pennsylvania Capitol Building, including murals featured in the Governor’s Reception Room.

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