By: Cami Hancock
This weekend, I travelled to Chicago and got the chance to meet with John Gilmour, an MSU alum and former Wharton Center intern. He interned at Wharton Center from 2003-2006 and founded the Wharton Center Student Marketing Organization. Since graduating in 2006, he’s been marketing Touring Broadway shows around the country, and he is currently the Director of Communications and Press for Hamilton in Chicago, Hamilton’s three national tours, and the newly opened Hamilton: The Exhibition museum. John sat down to talk with me about his professional journey thus far.
Q: Can you explain what your job entails?
A: I oversee all communications and press for Hamilton the brand. Wherever the show goes, we rely on a team that’s identical to Wharton Center. That team knows their market, and they have their relationships with the media. What happens is they say, “this is what works in East Lansing,” and I say, “this is what works for Hamilton.” We then find a medium that they execute that works for the show but is also in the best interest for the center. Together, we hope they sell out the show.
Q: Hamilton doesn’t need the same extent of marketing that most shows need. What do you do to market it?
A: For Hamilton, it’s a lot of time spent making sure the process for people in East Lansing is a positive one. So, we do that by making sure fans are getting tickets, making sure the on-sale process on that day is smooth, making sure the site’s system doesn’t crash. It’s working with the way Hamilton likes to brand itself going into a city, but also realizing that East Lansing may not respond in the same way that Chicago does. It’s a different city. How do we take our strategy that works in Chicago and make it work locally in East Lansing?
Q: What is the environment like working at Hamilton?
A: It’s amazing. I’ve worked on a lot of shows and from the top down, it’s a very positive and supportive environment. Whatever decisions or whatever you do is really collaborative. And we trust each other and we’re doing things that we haven’t done before, like the exhibition.
Q: You’ve been working on one show for a while now—how do you keep that fresh and exciting?
A: It stays fresh and exciting because it’s been a few years encountering new things, like what happens when we go back to a market for a return. What does that look like versus a first time that we play, or with a new company opening up, like Puerto Rico and the exhibition. There’s always something that we’re doing that I’ve never done before. It’s seeing how we adapt to different situations and respond to make sure the show can be sustained as long as possible.
Q: What are the traits and skills you think are most needed in your position?
A: I think you need to be internally motivated. No one’s going to just hand you a job and say, “Here, you deserve this.” You just have to always be doing things, be active and try new things. Prove your work ethic and that no job is too small. I knew that I loved theatre and that I wanted to do something with it, but I didn’t know what. I would do everything to help figure out what I wanted to do. Once I found I liked PR and marketing, I did whatever I could to learn as much as I could.
Q: What’s the best piece of advice you have received?
A: I think the biggest thing I learned is from Wharton Center. I thought there was a linear plan in making it in this industry. Wharton Center’s former Marketing Director, Kent Love, said there are many roads up the mountain. As long as you’re looking towards the top, there’s no wrong way. Things are never a step back, but just a different way to step up.
Hamilton is running at Wharton Center through June 2. For tickets, click here.
Cami Hancock is a Wharton Center intern and a junior at MSU, studying Arts and Humanities with a focus on writing and theatre.