Big thank you from

Jenny Munro talks to Susan Phelan

Susan PhelanSUSAN Phelan, 30, from Lisburn is the marketing and PR manager for Belfast's Lyric Theatre. She Studied English and Film and Media at the Universities of Stirling and Amsterdam and then completed Chartered Institute of Marketing exams part-time at Lisburn Institute.

Susan worked as a travel advisor, a marketing executive for a cruise company and was head of sales and Marketing for a travel / entertainment ticket agency in Belfast and London - where she started off working within the the call centre, before joining the Lyric Theatre last September.

My day starts at 7am - theoretically - I'm a summer person and I do struggle to get up in the dark winter mornings. I really think there was some mistake and I was meant to be an Australian. I drive to work for half nine missing the traffic - I work half nine to half five Monday to Friday apart from opening/closing nights and deadlines when I might do some weekends and evenings.

Sometimes I have an appointment en route to work, for example with the fantastic design company I am currently working with, 2b:Creative in Lisburn. I really enjoy that side of the job. Once a decision has been made as to what play we will produce (the Lyric is Northern Ireland's only producing theatre, which means that in most cases we actually commission writers, directors, actors, technicians and produce plays in-house rather than being a 'receiving' theatre which houses works by outside production companies) I meet with the writer or director to get their take on the production and get an idea of the style, what kind of target audience it will appeal to and what direction we should take with the creative so that it gives people a true idea of the play and will sell seats.

I then meet with the designers to brief them on the project and the brainstorming continues and the design of posters, direct mail, brochures, programmes and images for the website begins.

Once I get in there's never a dull moment and it's like the Bermuda triangle, the day just disappears. I start off checking email and phone messages and catching up with Eveline, the marketing assistant. I might write copy and work out scheduling using stats from past performances, for example what days and times suit schools, what kind of demand there is for matinees, the best date for press night and schedule in date for audio described and signed performances which we have been doing for over 10 years.

Then it's time to brief the Box Office, plan and book distribution of marketing materials, photography, print and radio advertising, look at promotions and competitions and work with schools and groups � the marketing mix will be different for every production � and send out press releases and listings to local media, invite journalists for press night and get the theatre dressed.

If we have secured a sponsor for a show we make sure they have the exposure they need and any corporate events are looked after.

I also look after media relations, organising for TV filming so the shows can get into the 'what's on' section of UTV for example and interviews with TV, radio and press. I might liaise with competition winners for meet and greets, photos and any charity requests.

Some of my time is spent meeting with colleagues, preparing reports for the board, planning out audience development and marketing strategies, budgets and research and analysis using our box office and CRM software.

All in all it's a really interesting and varied job and I get a great deal of satisfaction from it. I feel I'm doing something worthwhile which is important. The Lyric is about to undergo the biggest and most exciting period of change in its 55-year history.

A spectacular new theatre will be built on the current site with more space and better facilities - so there will definitely be no dull moments in store either.

In my free time I like to relax. At the weekend I might go horseriding in Tullymore or for a cycle along the towpath - I'm trying to get back into going to yoga and the gym after work.

I always want to get to the beach no matter what the season or weather.

I also enjoy going home, and getting looked after by my family.

Ulster Star