Cleveland Business Connects

For immediate release (October 6, 2017) Media Contact: Judy Abelman Email: Phone: 440.725.8861...

By Nina Polien Light  |  Photo by Gery Petrof

After spending more than three decades garnering publicity for traveling theatrical shows, such as “Chicago,” “Rain,” “Mannheim Steamroller’s Christmas Show,” “South Pacific,” and “Pippin,” Anita Dloniak seems to have a sixth sense about how to reach potential audiences.

Give her a budget and she knows how much, if any, should be allocated to television and radio spots, print advertising, or social media.

Still, even a seasoned agent runs into challenges. Her latest? This fall’s presidential election.

“It affects anywhere the shows will be performed,” Dloniak, owner of Anita Dloniak and Associates, says. “There’s an FCC rule that TV stations have to give candidates air time, and they may not pay as much as we do. How do we get our message out? What do we do in the fall? We have to find alternatives to TV advertising.”

Because candidates buy up so much advertising time, Dloniak finds her theatrical clients competing with fast food restaurants, retailers, and others for the remaining spots. To counteract that, she may entice local media to air or run stories on their stations or websites or in their publications. Dloniak asks cast and crew members to fill out questionnaires that pose wide-ranging inquiries about their theatrical background, hometown, and other interests. Then, for example, if a show is touring in Seattle and someone associated with the show grew up there, she pitches that angle to local media.

“I pull gems out of the questionnaire,” she says.

This fall she will represent another run of “Chicago” and the October opening of “Finding Neverland” in Buffalo. She will promote the 2017 opening of “Waitress” in Cleveland.

“I’ve been on tours almost 30 years and this will be the first time one of my tours is launching here,” she says. “I’m looking forward to that.”

Dloniak’s interest in theater began as a teenager when she accompanied her sisters to the Hanna Theatre, where they served as ushers and got to watch the shows.

“I thought I’d perform,” she says. “It held mystery and magic to me. But I discovered early on I was talent-free in that area.”

Interactions with actors, stage managers, crew members, PR agents, and others opened her eyes to career opportunities offstage. Dloniak worked as a subscription representative at the Hanna before being named director of marketing and public relations during her senior year at Cleveland State University. She moved up the ranks while also volunteering in community theater and serving as general manager of the Theatre League of Cleveland. Eventually, a New York producer tapped her to handle a tour of “South Pacific” starring Robert Goulet.

Dloniak made a name for herself nationally before opening an agency here.

“I made a decision early on that I was going to work very hard and show them I can do this job from Cleveland and I didn’t need to move to New York,” she said. “And this was at a time when we didn’t have all this technology.”

A highlight of her career was being a voter for the Tony Awards.

Dloniak credits CSU professor Joe Garry, Emmy award winner Bob Noll, and many others for mentoring and supporting her.

“I learned early on that you never lie or pretend you know what you’re doing,” she said. “When you admit you need help, that’s when people are willing to give it to you.” 

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