What to do When Social Media Outages Affect Your Film’s Marketing Plans

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If you use Facebook and connected social media like Instagram, you have probably been affected by the recent outage. Outages often mean that social media marketing plans are revised as a result. Any automated posts you had planned become redundant…or worse yet, you have to re-post and/or re-plan once the outage is over! It’s proof that while we can have social media marketing as part of an overall publicity plan, social media (like traditional media) is not infallible.

The recent outage provided a shared moment that was relatable to anyone who uses Facebook and Instagram. So here’s an idea you can use today: you might want to find some clever way to integrate it into your social media posts. The more something is relatable and resonates with an audience, the more engagement it will receive and the more likely your post will be shared. Remember when Kim Kardashian broke the Internet? Think about how YOU ‘broke the Internet’ today and run with it. In Sprites’ case, the outages happened after ALICE, the film we’ve been providing social media marketing for, won the Narrative Feature Award and CherryPicks First Female Feature Award at SXSW. ALICE broke the Internet!

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But what happens if you’re running a crowdfunding campaign when an outage happens on social? I’ve had this happen several times in the 7 years I’ve been assisting with crowdfunding campaigns, and while it’s not ideal you can work around it to make sure that you can still make the most of it. You may want to expand on the previous idea and use it as a call to action with your mailing list. If one platform is unavailable, channel your social media marketing efforts into the platforms you still have available to you at the time. Time really is money with a crowdfunding campaign!

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If you have a release that is affected by the outage, the above suggestions definitely apply- when you don’t have access to certain social media platforms during an outage, concentrate on the social media platforms where your film has a presence that are still available to you. You can always repurpose any content you had planned during an outage at a later date while still keeping the remainder of the social media marketing plan active and current.

Most importantly, if you have the time available to you…get away from the screen! This morning before I started my hours at Boosted, I could see how the outages were affecting my workflow when it came to social media marketing for Sprites clients…so I walked away. I went outside with a cup of coffee and watched the world go by so that when I returned to the computer I would be fresh as a daisy and raring to go.

Outages are awful, but unavoidable. It’s a reminder that no system is perfect!

Use These Film Publicity and Social Media Marketing Tips Now…And Still Have Time for a Netflix Binge!

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If you follow us on Facebook or Instagram, you’ll be familiar with our ‘Top Tips” posts. These posts are bite-sized nuggets of wisdom that contain hints and tips on film publicity and social media marketing.

I came up with the idea for having hints and tips available via social media because I’ve had many people saying how much they love the blog posts, but I didn’t want to always re-direct people to the blog. I wanted you to be able to scroll your social media feeds and pick up a small piece of wisdom you could implement straight away. You could implement just one of the Top Tips and still have time for a Netflix binge (have you been watching The Umbrella Academy? Incredible stuff!).

I wanted the knowledge and experience I’ve gained running Film Sprites PR for the past 4 and a half years to be useful even if you don’t require the full complement of PR and/or social media marketing services. They’re little love letters to the film industry. I’ve had a few filmmakers say to me: “we’d hire you if we had the budget, but your blog and social media is so useful!”. Obviously I would love to work further with these filmmakers, but at least I know they are still able to benefit from what’s available to them via the blog and social media, so at least I’m being of service. At the end of the day, that’s the most important thing to me.

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One of our Top Tips on Facebook and Instagram

So here are a few of our Top Tips from our IG and FB! Hopefully you will find them useful:

Tip 1: have a shared folder available for all cast and crew with videos, images and posters that can be shared on their social media. Everything helps to boost the signal! Having official materials available for cast and crew to share via social media means there’s no ambiguity about what they can and can’t share officially. It also helps to boost the signal, especially if you have cast members with large followings online.

Tip 2: receiving amazing fan art? Don’t forget to share it on social media! Fans are amazing at creating incredible fan art for the films, webseries and shows they love. If your fans have shown you some fan art love, be sure to share it!

Tip 3: completed a variety of short films? Think about having a local night of screenings with a Q&A. While we now have the ability in the digital age to share films via small screens, sometimes it can be great to share them on the big screen too. Think about having a screening night of your short films with a Q&A at a local venue. This can also serve as a great launch function for a crowdfunding campaign.

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Tip 4: keep an eye on dates of big film festivals and film awards ceremonies- these events may make coverage of your film more difficult. Major film festivals and awards ceremonies tend to be an entertainment news priority when they’re happening. To maximise your ability to secure coverage, avoid doing press release distribution during these periods. That being said, you can also encourage people towards your social media accounts during events like the Oscars by using appropriate hashtags. A word of warning: make your content 100% relevant to the hashtag AND the event. Don’t go using a hashtag to go fishing for likes. Think about posting a poll, talking about past winning films that have inspired your filmmaking, etcetera.

Tip 5: keep a comprehensive record of your media contacts, including links to reviews, interviews and articles. Having a comprehensive database for your publicity efforts makes a huge difference. It means that every time you release a new film or webseries you don’t have to start from scratch hunting for media contacts, and you can easily see who has previously published content about your film or webseries. It also means that if you’re outsourcing your publicity tasks the person involved will have access to that database, saving a whole lot of time.

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Tip 6: build great relationships with journalists, podcasters and bloggers who are passionate about film. This is definitely something I would prioritize as being of the upmost importance. Building great relationships with journalists, podcasters, bloggers and influencers is key. It means not only building and nurturing these relationships, but sharing their content as well. Make things easier for your contacts by providing access to digital press kits with clearly labelled high-resolution images, your press release and director’s statement, and access to screeners when available.

Tip 7: keep your fans in the loop with an email opt-in on your website. Having an email opt-in on your film’s website is a great way to keep your fans in the loop with all of your happenings. Mailchimp is a great way to provide news and updates, and is particularly useful if you’re gearing up for a period of crowdfunding or want to mobilize your fans to boost the signal of a film’s release via social media.

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Tip 8: you don’t need to use every social media channel to make sure you connect with your audience. Don’t spread yourself thin by being on every social media platform. Choose 1-3 platforms you feel comfortable using on a regular basis and you will be able to reach your audience in an effective way.

Hopefully one (or more!) of these tips has been helpful. Now, go watch Umbrella Academy. No, seriously. What are you waiting for?!?!?

 

How to Put a Publicity Budget Into Action (and Get the Best Value For Money!)

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Recently I’ve been letting you in on how to get more bang for your publicity buck, along with some more no-cost and low-cost publicity and social media ideas. This post is a continuation of that series. In this post, we’re going to look at how best to put together a publicity budget and then get the best value for money out of that budget (even if you have very little to spare).

If you receive distribution for your film, chances are the distribution company will do the PR and social media heavy lifting for you…but what happens if you have to self-distribute but still want to utilize publicity and social media marketing to connect with media and audiences? How do you plan a publicity budget and make the most of it?

I’m no expert, but I’ve worked with indie filmmakers just like you over the past 4 and a half years and regardless of the budget available, we’ve made it work very effectively. I think it helps that I grew up in an impoverished household. I saw how my mother was able to make do in miraculous ways. Needless to say, I’ve adopted that mindset when it comes to budgets of any kind. This is the way I approach publicity budgets and it’s a way that I’ve found works. You may have a better way, or adapt this to suit your purposes. There’s really no wrong way to do this.

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So, let’s look at how to work with what you have available (even if you’re low to no budget) to get maximum results:

  • Define your project: is it a short film, feature, webseries?
  • Define your publicity and social media marketing goals: what are you hoping to achieve with publicity and social media marketing of your film/webseries? List everything. Examples could include: growing your social media presence for your film, encouraging people to purchase tickets to local screenings, gaining reviews of your film, securing interviews and features in the run-up to your film’s release, etcetera.
  • Look at your publicity and social media marketing budget: absolutely NO money available? NO problem! It just means you’ll be looking for no-cost options, like creating and maintaining your film/webseries social media presence, reaching out to reviewers and journalists, or staging a local screening in conjunction with a club or organization (or a very kind venue that will stage it for free!). Check out our previous posts for some no-cost options. If you have funds available, look at your goals and research your options. If you have screenings coming up locally or on limited release, you might want to put a percentage into running paid Facebook or Instagram promotions, or paid promotions on film genre-specific websites. You may even choose to outsource your publicity and social media marketing to someone else who can do the heavy lifting for you (that’s when people come to us!).
  • Work out a publicity plan going forward and allocate funds based on the above: share this plan with your producers and anyone assisting with publicity and social media marketing. It’s good to have the numbers down so everyone is clear on the financials and you have a record of everything. Even if you have no funds available, I still suggest doing a publicity plan so you’re not flying by the seat of your pants with your publicity and social media marketing efforts!

There’s countless options available that don’t mean taking out a second mortgage- you can achieve great things with little to no funds available and make your film or webseries a huge hit.

More No-Cost and Low-Cost Film Publicity and Social Media Ideas

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There was an overwhelmingly positive response to our post about getting more bang for your publicity buck with no-cost and low-cost ideas for film publicity and social media that we’re sharing even MORE ideas to help you stretch your publicity budget further (even if it’s non-existent!):

Sanity-saving apps

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We now live in a world where almost everything is right at our fingertips (literally!). Thankfully, apps can make social media marketing of your film so much easier. It means you’re not having to be tied to a desk in order to reach your audience immediately- how cool is that?

Whether using a smart phone or tablet, there’s a few apps that can make social media posts painless, fun and engaging. One of my favourite apps is Canva, a graphic design app that is also available via the website. Canva gives you a multitude of free options for designing anything you can think of: from a flier to social media graphics for various social platforms, there’s even free templates, photos and text available if you’re completely unsure of where to start. There are also paid plans, which give you more options for templates and far more photos as well as other features, but the free option is pretty comprehensive.

Another great design app I love is Promo Republic. Create, share and schedule your social media posts all in one place, PLUS they have a handy calendar which shows you a comprehensive list of public holidays, awards ceremonies and popular events, celebrity birthdays and more; all of which can be handy to use on social media to get your audience engaged and sharing your content.

Event Listings

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Got screenings but no budget for advertising? Listing your screenings on platforms like Eventbrite is a great option. In New Zealand? Arts website The Big Idea has an event listing page, and as well as the free event listing you have paid promotional options that won’t break the bank.

Competitions

Got leftover perk merch from your film’s crowdfunding campaign, like signed posters, t-shirts, etc? Or perhaps you have additional Blu-ray or DVD copies of your film from a pressing run? Think about using them for social media competitions. There’s various ways to run a competition via your social media, and the options are endless. Whether it’s entering fan art to be in the draw, or simply liking and sharing the post, it’s a great way to get your fans engaged.

Pick our brains!

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Don’t have the budget to hire Film Sprites PR to handle your publicity and social media for you? We’ve got you covered! Our blog gives you hints and tips for all aspects of publicity and social media marketing of films. My belief has always been that independent filmmakers deserve just as much publicity and social media marketing assistance as mainstream films, and the hints and ideas you’ll find on the blog are tried and tested and come from being “in the trenches” with indie film as opposed to someone who comes from a purely marketing or commerce background. I know the pressures, constraints, and frustrations of indie filmmaking, so you’ll find that the blog posts are no-bull and speak directly to indie filmmakers. And I try to make them as cheeky and enjoyable as possible.

Achieving your goals for your film and connecting with your audience doesn’t have to involve a gargantuan publicity budget. With some creativity and clever solutions you can build a community of fans around your film and most importantly have it being seen and loved.

Film PR and Social Media Resolutions to Make (and Habits to Break) in 2019

2019 resolutions film publicity and social media

It’s that time of year again…we’re in that weird period between Christmas and New Years, we’re reflecting on the year that was and looking towards the horizon of 12 fresh, new months. And, if you’re anything like our household the remnants of the Christmas choccy boxes contain those horrible hard caramels nobody seems to like!

While you’re thinking about all the personal and professional goals you have for 2019, it’s a good time to also think about what you want to achieve with regards to your film or webseries’ publicity and social media. Film publicity and social media marketing is, sadly, something that takes a back seat when it comes to production. There’s a misconception that PR and social media for your film is something that needs to be thought about solely on release when in reality it’s something that can be utilised throughout production to help grow your audience and awareness of your film.

With that in mind, I’m going to give you some resolutions to make (and habits to break) in 2019 that will help you feel confident about publicity and social media marketing of your film or webseries and assist you in supporting your other filmmaking and production goals.

Create a Publicity Budget

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Money’s always tight when it comes to indie filmmaking, but successful publicity and social media marketing is always a mix of earned media (shares, mentions, posts, reviews, interviews), owned media (website, social media channels) and paid media (social media ads, promotional content, advertising). Can you do without paid media? Certainly, but if you want to have a more strategic reach (i.e. reaching your audience in areas where your film will be shown, or connecting with fan bases aligned with yours or that of your actors), paid media is also a big help.

In the coming weeks we’ll talk more about creating a publicity budget that doesn’t break the bank.

Get Sorted on the Socials

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If you don’t have a social media presence yet, now’s the time to get it sorted. Having a social media presence means you can grow your audience, connect with fans and prep fans and followers for up-coming and future releases. Check out our post answering frequently asked questions about social media for filmmakers to find out more about making the most of social media for your filmmaking.

Learn a New Publicity or Social Media Marketing Skill

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As you will know, indie filmmaking is like a small village: there’s a community on board that rolls up their sleeves and takes on various roles. Chances are, you’re wearing more than one hat in your filmmaking right now, be it editing, producing, or design. With that in mind, if you don’t have the ability to hire a publicist or social media marketing person, it’s a good idea to level up by learning something new about publicity or social marketing. Whether you hit the blogs to find out about trends in social media for 2019 or take a quick course, you will definitely benefit from the time you spend learning something new. Our blog is packed with juicy info to help you out if you don’t have the budget to hire an outside publicist and is based on information that’s of most use to indie filmmakers, based on 5 years of running Film Sprites PR.

What about habits to break in 2019? Here’s a few things to think about ditching!

Hoping to Go Viral

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The social media landscape has changed significantly since the start of the 2010s. In 5 years of operating Film Sprites PR I’ve seen massive changes in the way people consume their media (including a jump to streaming services and a push towards greater self-distribution), including the way people consume their social media. Whereas going viral used to be a golden goose for creatives, it’s now less effective and harder to achieve. If you’re waiting to go viral it’s effectively like a fairytale character waiting to be saved by a white knight or a prince. Instead, work towards creating a sustainable presence and building your audience and community. That lasts longer and is more meaningful than going viral.

Having Social Media Accounts For Every Short Film

It’s tempting to create new social media pages and accounts every time you have a new short film out, but this is something that is time consuming and less effective than if you have social media accounts which provide a platform for all of your work. The issue with creating multiple accounts for different projects (especially with regards to short film) is that once you’ve completed and screened or streamed your film (and done the awards circuit), chances are you may not use those accounts again. They will be sitting on the Internet like a dead end. Plus, people who loved that particular film may not realise that you have other films in production.

A more efficient thing to do is to have social media accounts that can encompass all of your work. Whether you set up social media accounts in your name as a filmmaker or under your production company’s umbrella, you can continue to invest in those social media accounts for years to come and mobilise your fans to support you, share your content and see your films.

Making These Social Media Snafus

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Social media is such a powerful tool when used effectively, but when it goes wrong it goes badly wrong. You want to connect with your audience, not annoy them! Check out our list of the most annoying things you can do on social media when promoting your film, as well as the alternatives we’ve suggested.

Wishing you a very productive, inspiring 2019. As a thank you, I’m giving you Getting Prepped for 2019, a handy guide on when to generate publicity and digital marketing for your indie film or webseries. It also includes a timeline you can either print out or modify to help you to plan everything out and have it at your fingertips! You can download this guide HERE.

Our Year in Review…and a Freebie for You!

It’s hard to believe that we’re nearly at the end of another year; the fourth year of operation for Film Sprites PR. It’s been a fun and inspiring year, and we’ve had the great pleasure of working with some truly fabulous filmmakers to provide publicity and digital marketing. Here’s a look back at some of the projects we’ve assisted this year!

Under the Flowers: Circle of Hell

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Film Sprites PR had the great pleasure of teaming up with Mad Shelley Films again to promote Under the Flowers: Circle of Hell, the second thrilling installment of this chilling female-driven horror webseries. The season received glowing reviews, as well as award nominations and wins at several film festivals. Season 3, Waking the Witch, is now in development.

The Final Blade

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In August  we assisted NZ-based Chinese director Willie Ying with the Auckland release of his feature film, The Final Blade. The film was scheduled for an initial 3 days of screenings at Event Cinemas St Lukes, Albany and Queen Street and by the first day of screenings this was extended to an additional 5 days. And despite being screened during NZIFF 2018 (always a difficult time to secure press outside of NZIFF-screened films) we were able to secure media placements (including interviews) in outlets like Radio NZ, Western Leader/Stuff, Showtools, and the NZ Herald’s Time Out magazine supplement.

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Us Among the Stones

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Film Sprites PR assisted with the pre-production crowdfunding campaign for director D.R. Hood’s second feature film, Us Among the Stones a few years ago, and this year we had the great pleasure of assisting with the crowdfunding campaign for post-production funds on Social Screen. Not only did they meet their crowdfunding target, they exceeded it, achieving 113%!

Us Among the Stones stars Laurence Fox (The Frankenstein Chronicles, Inspector Lewis), Raia Haidar, Sinead Matthews (Chewing Gum, Mr Turner, Wreckers) and Anna Calder-Marshall. It is the second feature from D.R. Hood, the writer/director of acclaimed independent film Wreckers, starring Claire Foy (Netflix’s The Crown, Unsane), Benedict Cumberbatch (BBC’s Sherlock, Doctor Strange) and Shaun Evans (Endeavour, Silk).

AFK

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And rounding out the year, we’re currently assisting NZ fantasy/gaming webseries AFK with publicity and digital marketing of their second thrilling season. Filmed in NZ with an entirely Kiwi-based cast, it features actors that have appeared in The Hobbit trilogy, 6 Days, Spartacus: Blood and Sand, Power Rangers, Legend of the Seeker, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Avatar, The King’s Speech and Mortal Engines. AFK is available to watch at TVNZ On Demand (NZ only), Stareable and YouTube.

Time for that gift!

And yes, as promised…it’s gift time! We’re giving you Getting Prepped for 2019, a handy guide on when to generate publicity and digital marketing for your indie film or webseries. It also includes a timeline you can either print out or modify to help you to plan everything out and have it at your fingertips! You can download this guide HERE.

Many thanks to our clients, supporters, indie film fans, media partners and friends who have made 2018 a really special year indeed. We’re having our summer break from December 22nd- 27th, but you can always contact us to schedule a meeting to discuss your publicity and digital marketing needs in 2019.

 

Making Your Filmmaking Journey Matter to Your Audience

 

making your filmmaking journey matter to your audience

Recently, I was pleased to see that The Power of Myth was added to Netflix NZ/Aus. This PBS series featuring Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers is truly powerful stuff. You may be familiar with Campbell’s Hero’s Journey template. You may have even found yourself utilizing it if you are a filmmaker. It’s a reminder of the commonality of themes and stages in myth and storytelling, as well as in life.

Don’t worry- we’re not going to get deep into Hero’s Journey territory here, but we are going to look at how your own filmmaking journey can inspire your film’s audience, and how to utilize that to great effect.

Our world is a tapestry of complex stories, of narratives and viewpoints. The advent of social media has provided more people with the means to bringing their own personal story to the world. I was in college when the Arab Spring happened. In decades past, uprisings would be told to the world through traditional media, with these events then being relegated to history. But with the Arab Spring people were taking to social media to let the world know what was happening.

At the time I was learning about the political economy of the mass media and the media conglomerates who had shares in media outlets. That landscape was beginning to change in real-time even as I was learning about it. Back then I got the sense that something very important was happening in the way we receive information about the world. People could tell their story in real-time and receive real-time feedback. Obviously, that’s a really broad statement because it doesn’t take into account some of the inequalities faced by people in different areas of the world (financially or due to censorship), but that’s how I saw it at the time.

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As a filmmaker, you know the importance of stories- after all, you’ve had one (or more) play out in front of the camera! Telling the story of your film (behind-the-scenes details, work in progress, etc) is something that can be used with good effect to connect with media and audiences…but sharing your own personal filmmaking journey can also be incredibly powerful and compelling.

Now, I’m not suggesting you share all of your dirty laundry. You don’t have to get that personal. But the hardships, obstacles and sweat equity that goes into any endeavour can be truly inspiring. Pick one successful person in history and look at their story. I can guarantee you it wasn’t smooth sailing the whole way. Just like with the Hero’s Journey, there were tests and stages. I once heard a successful nanotechnologist say that success isn’t a straight line, it’s more a wiggly one. People are inspired by hard work and struggle. After all, Steve Jobs ended up with two biopics for a good reason- his path wasn’t always smooth sailing. He got fired from his own company. He had an incredible phoenix moment with Apple in the late 90s- early 2000s.

So….what’s your story- and how can you utilize it in publicity and social media?

As you know, filmmakers don’t just pop up out of holes in the ground (if they did, that would be weird). They’re not packaged up like dolls that can be unwrapped and liberated from their boxes to create pitch-perfect films every time. It takes work, it takes skill, and it takes dedication to their craft. The same goes with you. You have a story of your filmmaking journey, and now it’s time to share it. Last year, I heard David Michôd (Animal Kingdom, The Rover, War Machine) talk about his films. Animal Kingdom‘s final incarnation was different to the script of 10 years prior. Perhaps you pursued filmmaking because you heard the call after 30 years of doing the same mind-numbing desk job. Perhaps your film was in distribution limbo but you managed to secure a deal thanks to a serendipitous meeting. It’s things like this that can be shared with media and audiences to good effect.

Here’s ways in which you can share your filmmaking journey:

  • If you love to blog, then blog about it! Film fans love unique insights into the filmmaking process and the filmmaker’s journey because it feels intimate and special.
  • Share on social media. Perhaps you have some old photographs from your early filmmaking days, or a snapshot of the first day’s filming of your first film. Nostalgia is fun and accessible.
  • Think about vignettes and insights you can share when you are being interviewed. In my case, when I do interviews or podcasts about the creation of Film Sprites PR I am more than happy to discuss the fact that my career started as a result of being an earthquake survivor and re-building my life to reflect my passion for film and the desire to work in the film industry. You can think about sharing similar (if you’re comfortable with it). Have you struggled with mental illness and are now dedicated to reflecting these struggles in the narratives of your films? Did a beloved childhood film spark your path towards filmmaking?

Your story is just as much a part of your film as the script and the actors in it. Don’t be afraid to share your journey…you never know who you will inspire.