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The Lyric Theatre

Aiken was tasked by the Lyric Theatre, Belfast to develop a PR campaign to support the staging of a new work by critically acclaimed Belfast playwright Owen McCafferty. 

The play, Death of a Comedian, is a powerful satire exploring the highs and lows of comedy – while funny it was about laughter rather than being a laugh.

  • Raise awareness of Death of a Comedian
  • Drive audience attendance 
  • Bring the play to a wider audience than a core arts audience and engage them on its benefits

Strategy and tactics (including innovation and creativity)

Taking the theme of humour we set about recruiting familiar and comical ambassadors to support the proposition that ‘Death of a Comedian’ was a production suitable for all adults. From this we developed our tactics to engage mass audiences.

Tactics included

  • Recruitment of celebrity ambassadors to drive awareness of the play and engage wider audience
  • Creating a comedy challenge and delivering an Comedy Open Mic Day host by our celebrity ambassadors
  • Underpinned activity with a social media campaign to find Northern Ireland’s best joke
  • Maintaining momentum through a high impact and always on media relations campaign

Campaign Launch

Within the arts in Northern Ireland there is always a constant battle for attention among various theatres and productions. To combat this APR tapped into the wider arts circle engaging the comedy scene involving local comedians and profiling local writer Owen McCafferty.

Here’s how we did it …..

Comedy Challenge

We had secured local high profile comedian Nuala McKeever, briefing her to challenge City Beat Radio DJ Stephen Clements to take the challenge to perform a stand–up routine at the busy Victoria Square shopping centre at the peak trading time of Saturday afternoon. Nuala mentored Stephen for one week in the lead up to his stand–up performance appearing on his radio show for interview. 

Launch PR

Campaign launched with a Groucho Marx style photo call at Lyric Theatre with Nuala mentoring Simon in shot.

Press release not only sought to raise awareness of Death of a Comedian but it was a call to action for those who wouldn’t regularly attend the Lyric Theatre. The alternative pairing and messaging grabbed the attention of media.

Social Media Campaign

Simultaneously we launched a social media campaign to find the #BestJokeNI.

Jokes were entered via twitter by local comedians, DJ’s writers and members of the public. One overall winner was selected to tell his joke on air at Citybeat radio and win a bundle of tickets to the Lyric Theatre.

Open Mic Day

To engage the media and target audiences, comedy ambassadors Nuala and Stephen in conjunction with Lyric Theatre hosted an Open Mic Day in Victoria Square. Stephen entertained shoppers with his novice set before inviting them to take to the stage and share their favourite joke. Death of a Comedian playwright Owen McCafferty also attended and entertained shoppers with his own unique style of comedy too. Spot prizes were awarded to those who entered.

Media Partner

Citybeat’s light hearted breakfast show was the perfect host for a high impact winning weekend on air/online competition with Citybeat.

Citybeat DJs supported the initiative and Stephen Clements with his stand up challenge along with loyal fans who attended the Open Mic Day. We gained multiple on air hits with mentions of our social media campaign and Stephen’s involvement.

Media Relations

While our interactive campaign was on–going we achieved cut through in press and broadcast with a BBC radio special hour long interview with the playwright; features in press on the playwright and set up of preview and reviews. Throughout the duration of the play’s run, vox–pops of audience were captured on video and uploaded to the Lyric’s youtube channel and out through social media channels.



The play was critically well received by reviewers and audiences alike and was one of the most successful new works to premier on the NI stage in 2015.