All posts by Gretchen Van Benthuysen

When I was 11, I knew I wanted to be a journalist and I grew up to become the Entertainment Editor of the Asbury Park Press when I was 25. Fifteen years later I finally was able to write about theater in NJ and in NYC full-time for another 10 years, plus contribute articles and reviews to Variety, Back Stage and The Drama League. Now I run this website TheaterCues.com for fun. Before I left The Press I was the Web Producer for the Friday and Sunday Entertainment sections of The Press, Home News Tribune, Daily Record and Courier News. I learned a lot about Search Engine Optimization, key words and phrases and other ways to attract Google’s attention. If you have a business — or show business — these days you need a website that shows up on the first page of Google that your customers — or audience — check often to see what’s new on your blog, in your photo galleries, on your video accounts, etc. You want them to be a part of your community, your family, so when it’s time for your service — or opening night — they are there to support you.

Visitors who spend time on your site are golden


One visitor who spends time on your website may be worth more than two in a rush.

Google keeps its SEO analytics a secret so we can only guess, through best practices, how it rates what we do to attract  its spiders to crawl through our posts.

One industry wide accepted practice to boost your G rating is keeping folks on your page poking around for as long as possible. So, give them lots of “entertainment” in the form of photo galleries, video and links.  Keep in mind, though, it’s imperative your settings take the visitor to a new window, otherwise you are taking them off your page. Once they’re gone it’s unlikely they will hit the back button to return to your site. Continue reading Visitors who spend time on your site are golden

Building your ‘Empire’ totally free on Twitter


Image of Taraji P. Henson and Jussie Smollett in “Empire.” (Credit Chuck Hodes/Fox)
Taraji P. Henson and Jussie Smollett in “Empire.” (Credit: Chuck Hodes/Fox)

I haven’t watched a single episode of the first season of Fox’s “Empire,” a hip-hop soap opera on the scale of  “Dallas” when it comes to a rich family acting very badly.

But, I’m definitely a fan as it has increased its audience each week via social media, averaging 451,270 tweets per episode. Yeah, you read that right. According to Nielsen Social that is the highest on TV, beating “The Walking Dead” and “Scandal.” The second to last episode of “Empire” got 750,258 tweets and that is something any business with a Twitter account should be paying attention to.

Continue reading Building your ‘Empire’ totally free on Twitter

Salvation Army uses #TheDress in campaign against violence


Not every time something goes viral on the web will your company be able to piggyback on it for tons of free PR. But sometimes you can and the Salvation Army is reaping the benefits of the black-and-blue dress vs. the white-and gold dress phenomenon as part of its campaign against domestic abuse.

In a couple of days, this 150-year-old organization turned the world-wide conversation about individuals’ perception of the color of a dress into society’s perception of domestic violence. Why are some us, even whole societies, unwilling to see and act to end violence against women?

Continue reading Salvation Army uses #TheDress in campaign against violence

‘Peter Pan Live’ example how small business can reach millions, for free


Image of Christopher Walken as Capt. Hook.
Casting Christopher Walken as Capt. Hook is brilliant.

Want to increase your brand,  your image, your reach, and build your community  internationally (clicks are clicks)!! Then browse over to the DiGiorno twitter site. Whoever is tweeting during “Peter Pan Live” —  being watched by millions — is killing by being civil and funny  — all for free! Learn from the DG master.

Remember, this is a company that sells its pizzas in supermarkets so you don’t have count on delivery for “delivery quality pizza.”.

I bow to the master. Why? Here’s a small example. This goes on for the  entire musical. I am so jealous.

Continue reading ‘Peter Pan Live’ example how small business can reach millions, for free

Jane Austin and Live Tweeting during ‘Death Comes to Pemberley’


P. D. James' clever whodunit "Death Comes to Pemberley"  stars Anna Maxwell Martin ("Bleak House"), Matthew Rhys ("The Americans") is live Tweeting during air time with fans.
P. D. James’ clever whodunit “Death Comes to Pemberley,” based on Jane Austin’s “Pride and Prejudice,” stars Anna Maxwell Martin (“Bleak House”), Matthew Rhys (“The Americans”) in a Masterpiece Theatre live Tweeting event with fans.

Hard to know if Jane Austin were around she  would reach out to fans through Twitter, but Masterpiece Theatre viewers of her work and of P.D. James’ pastiche “Death Comes to Pemberley” are being encouraged to do so tonight (11/2/14).

It’s one thing for major news stations to keep viewers updated via their website with breaking news, or for the major award shows to post winners as they are announced. But more and more TV series are setting aside a night to tweet all kinds of tidbits to their fans. It’s a smart idea, something small businesses should adopt, and a great way to interact with viewers (who represent Nielsen ratings as well as web clicks).

Don’t just watch us, talk to us!

For small businesses, it builds community in a fun way at virtually no cost and will pay back big time down the road.

Continue reading Jane Austin and Live Tweeting during ‘Death Comes to Pemberley’

Pinterest joins FB, Twitter as a way to capture new web visitors


As traditional media — you know, magazines and newspapers — keep losing circulation they are scrambling to adjust to new means of communication — social media. No news here, right?

Except NYTimes reporter Christine Haughney is reporting in addition to Facebook and Twitter you now can add Pinterest.

And this may also be a great idea for small businesses that have lots of stuff to photograph. And let’s not forget, I’m also talking to all of you hobbyist jewelry makers — of which there seem to be millions — who are interesting in jumping from flea markets to eCommerce websites.

Haughney points out Better Homes and Gardens has ID’d these seasonal trends:

— painted pumpkins over carved

— snowman cookies over gingerbread men

— creative decorative ribbons for Christmas presents over dull bows

They know this, she says, because it’s all there on Pinterest, whose posters are 71 percent women.

Continue reading Pinterest joins FB, Twitter as a way to capture new web visitors

Video is a must for websites that want to thrive


Video is hard. Video is expensive. We don’t have a video studio. All of those excuses are no longer valid these days. Every content marketer needs to have video as part of her plan this year.

Video is one of the most consumed content formats online; YouTube is the second-largest search platform, according to comScore, a leading internet technology company that measures what people do as they navigate the digital world.

Think about it. Don’t you gravitate to video? What would the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge — which as I write this says “About 11,100,000 results” on You Tube — have been without it?

So, you if you want to catch attention online these days, your site better include video.  Broadway theaters are beginning to take advantage of this and why it has taken so long baffles me. After all, they’re actors aren’t they? And producers, many of whom have Hollywood cred these days, certainly have the means to pull off great looking video.

Continue reading Video is a must for websites that want to thrive

Millennials, not Boomers, should be the target consumers


There are 80 million Millennials, those born between 1977 and 1995. They are roughly 25 percent of the U.S. population. Their collective memory is led by where they were when 9/11 happened. Their numbers are greater than Baby Boomers. Hispanics are their largest ethnic minority, followed by African-Americans.

Baby boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, talk about where they were when JKF was assassinated.

And let’s not forget Generation X, born 1965 to 1976. Not sure what their collective memory moment is.

If your business customers are mostly Baby Boomers, your business is in trouble. The numbers are stacked against you. Millennials’ collective buying power is an estimated $200 billion annually, and that will only grow, according to “Marketing to Millennials,” by Jeff Fromm and Christie Garton.

0912-chipotle_full_600If, for instance, you are in the restaurant biz, take heed.

According to the NY Times, restaurant visits among Millennials have fallen 16 percent during the last four years, according to research by the NPD Group, a consumer marketing firm, and have failed to pick up as the economy has improved.

Continue reading Millennials, not Boomers, should be the target consumers

Build communities, not networks, to woo loyal followers


LinkedIn today has an interesting article on Google+. I know, enough about Google, but you gotta admit they pretty much run the web universe these days. So learn to like ’em or get left in the dust.

Focusing on non-profits’ success with G+, Ronald Honigman explains now the Red Cross struck gold by crafting a visually focused story about the Red Cross and engaged with people who support the organization’s ongoing mission:

“The Red Cross has found success by applying this strategy across each social network and adapting it to suit the nuances and audiences unique to each channel.

It found that visuals tend to receive the highest amount of interactions from its audiences, such as photos from events and volunteers, infographics illustrating the need for more blood donations, and repurposed YouTube videos.

One of the unique aspects of Google+ is that it is tied into an ecosystem, whereas some of the other social platforms are their own standalone communities, says Midkiff.

His advice for other non-profits is to use visuals and other engaging content to drive interactions with your audiences to eventually take advantages of the larger Google+ ecosystem.

Lastly, he recommends that in order to find success with a platform like Google+ make sure your organization has the manpower or infrastructure in place to continually maintain the social network. Without this infrastructure, your organization will have hard time updating and tending to your Google+ page enough to find the success you’re looking for.”

Read more here.