Chief Entertainment Officer and PR Professional
This week’s Monday Maine Maven is Chief Entertainment Officer Dan Marois of Mystery for Hire, Mainely Improv and Maine Street Entertainment.
Most of his career has been spent with healthcare organizations where he held public relations and marketing positions at Stephens Memorial Hospital in Norway, St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center in Lewiston, and Franklin Memorial Hospital in Farmington.
Most recently, Dan has been a communication consultant for Electricity Maine and ENH Power, energy suppliers offering major cost savings to residents on the electrical supply portion of their energy bills.
Happily married to Denise Marois for 34 years, Dan is the proud father of Katherine Marois Nadeau, a social worker in the Boston area.
1. Dan, you have worked in PR for many years as well as providing entertainment for audiences around the state and the U.S. Tell us about your career.
I’ve worked in public relations and communications for over 30 years and most of that time in Maine. I can truly say that I’ve done just about everything from press releases to events and from brochures to videos. I’ve had truly tremendous experiences!
On a part time basis, I’ve been a freelance writer for 32 years mostly for newspapers and magazines. And for 17 years, I’ve been Chief Entertainment Officer for Mystery for Hire and Mainely Improv, offering mystery themed performances and improvisational comedy.
With Mystery for Hire, I’ve performed in almost 475 murder mystery dinner theater productions to audiences totaling more than 20,000. I’ve also performed in community and professional theater in a variety of roles including dramas, comedies, and musicals.
After a recent job elimination from L.L.Bean, after serving as a communication specialist for almost seven years, I’ve officially launched a full time effort with my theater and communications business. Life is great!
2. You have some special advice about booking entertainment for groups and special events. What is your advice?
In regards to planning for entertainment for an event or special occasion, I always advise clients to think about what they want to accomplish at the event.
- Do they want a highly interactive event or will participants want to sit back and simply watch the event?
- Is the group out to have a good time or are they more reserved in nature?
- What ages will be at the event?
- What is the main purpose for wanting entertainment?
Understanding each of these elements is vital. Unless a client has a clear indication of what they want to accomplish, there’s potential for a mismatch between the entertainment and the event.
I also advise that clients literally choreograph the agenda for their special events, including how and when the entertainment will be introduced. Details are so extremely important and both the client and the entertainment need to know step by step how things will proceed.
Some tips for hiring entertainment include:
- Always ask for references from some of their clients. A casual chat with someone who has worked with the entertainer before can help you decide if this is the right choice for your event.
- Give the entertainer as much info as possible about the group they will be performing for. Is the group ready to have a good time? Do they tend to be quiet and reserved? When it comes to comedy, are there any subjects that are off limits? Older crowd or younger crowd? All of these bits of information can help an entertainer target their performance for your audience.
- Don’t try to cut corners on the budget for entertainment. While you may be tempted to book lower cost options, remember that an experienced and professional troupe will give you the quality and results you want for your event.
For events where participants want to mingle and network, I recommend that a client not have entertainment. There is nothing worse for a performer than to be at an event where people’s attention wants to be directed elsewhere. Entertainment is not mandatory and it is okay simply to allow your guests to engage one another in conversation rather than divert attention to entertainment.
For interactive fun, I suggest our mystery shows. They take place during the courses of a meal. In this case, the entertainment and meal is done together over a two hour time slot.
For outrageous fun, I suggest improv comedy where we perform after a meal is completed. This way, the food and business is out of the way and the only mission at that time is to have FUN!
3. How has PR changed over the years since you began your career, especially with the explosion of social media?
Social media, the internet and e-mail has changed the ball game for so many things.
There are times when the only contact I have with a client prior to an event is via websites and e-mail. In fact, it is a refreshing and surprising change to actually meet someone fact to face on the day of an event.
I use all of these online sources to book my entertainment, but I never exclude the power of a phone call or personal meeting.