When The Student Becomes The Teacher

One of the joys of teaching a college course is the chance to meet bright students whom you know will go on to successful careers. Such is the case with Vanessa Kromer, vice president of communications for Nederlander Concerts. When I met her 20+ years ago, she was a bright, energetic student in my entertainment PR class at California State University Fullerton. Today, she’s a smart and savvy executive more than capable of teaching that same class.

I recently caught up with her to see if she had any new projects or case studies that might be of interest to my MediaPost readers. Did she ever! 

Vanessa oversees all aspects of public relations for Nederlander Concerts and its award-winning venues, including The Greek Theatre in Los Angeles, Hollywood’s Pantages Theatre, City National Civic of San Jose, City National Grove of Anaheim and UC San Diego’s RIMAC Arena, plus third-party facilities up and down the California coast. She also coordinates publicity campaigns for artists playing Nederlander venues and provides strategic counsel for the company while managing all corporate communications.



As if that weren’t enough, she’s also in the middle of an intense battle with rival company Live Nation to keep The Greek Theatre on Nederlander’s roster: Although Nederlander has operated The Greek for decades, the theater is up for renewal, and the Los Angeles Parks and Recreation Commission (which oversees the venue for the city) has voted to give its new contract to Live Nation. Now the decision goes before the city council and then onto the mayor, who will have the final word.

“We’re not giving up on our campaign to keep The Greek,” says Vanessa. “We’re very passionate about it and that passion comes through in everything we do, from publicity and social media to community outreach and, of course, the creation of our RFP itself.”

Without getting too embroiled in the details of the RFP, I asked Vanessa to describe some of the key components of her PR plan as an example of how to market an entertainment-related issue, rather than a product, event, or celebrity. 

  • Start with a compelling theme: “We Are The Greek” began with a simple posting on Facebook showing the Nederlander staff on stage with a large banner displaying its catchphrase. The photo effectively reminded viewers that The Greek wasn’t just a venue, it was people, too.
  • Create an engaging website: has become the place where people can learn how to get involved. It features a petition encouraging the commission to reconsider its position and retain Nederlander as The Greek’s manager. “The petition gathered 12,000 signatures the first day and now boasts more than 29,000,” says Vanessa.

The website also features an area where you can write your city councilman as well as a detailed yet easy-to-read explanation as to why Nederlander is the better choice for The Greek job.

  • Customize the publicity: “We have a ton of PR strategy behind this campaign,” says Vanessa. “Some of it is confidential, but I can tell you that we aggressively pursue the media with regular updates about our activities. And we customize our messages and materials to suit the needs of each media outlet.” 
  • Go gangbusters on social media: Nederlander has very active pages on Facebook (79,000 likes), Twitter (31,000 followers) and Instagram (2,700,000 followers) for The Greek Theatre. The accounts are a mixture of concert news and photos combined with updates about The Greek RFP. “PR is basically social media today,” says Vanessa. “You can’t just send a press release and expect it to get traction—you must post it on social channels, promote it with photos and engage reporters online. Getting a reporter to retweet your story can generate more views than placement in print publications these days. Everything is immediate and truly 24/7.”
  • Launch an active community outreach campaign: One of the first things that Nederlander did was reach out to the neighbors living close to The Greek Theatre. “We’ve always been a neighbor to the community and continue that effort by participating in neighborhood council meetings, one-on-one conversations with the community and actively being involved with charitable organizations.” In this personal way, they are forging deep and genuine bonds with the people who care most about The Greek. “We even offer lawn signs and t-shirts that say #WeAreTheGreek,’” Vanessa says. “It’s very rewarding to see the tremendous support we are getting in the community.”

“Between outreach teams, neighborhood council meetings, PR strategy, and social media, I’m like a mini politician these days,” Vanessa adds. And that struck me as a good comparison, given that politicians and PR people are all about persuasion and effective campaigns! 

But there’s one perk Vanessa enjoys that politicians can only dream of: “I can basically see any concert I want!”

1 comment about "When The Student Becomes The Teacher".
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  1. Tara Crow from Resumarea, December 16, 2014 at 3:16 p.m.

    Thanks for an excellent post and helpful tips! It must be an amazing feeling to meet your students after a while. As much as teacher is extremely hard and demanding profession, it's probably the most rewarding one. Observing your students grow, improve and learn is an amazing feeling. Even some essays writers occasionally pay their teachers a visit. Not to mention when your student actually becomes a teacher as well. It is really inspiring and not many jobs can influence around people like this. Tara

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