Getting More Bang for your Publicity Buck

publicity budgets twitter

Sometimes I think independent low-budget (or no budget) filmmaking is a bit like college: you learn a lot, there’s deadlines, stress (and maybe a few tears) and spare money is tight to non-existent. With that being said, publicity for your film or webseries can seem like a bit of a luxury or a ‘nice to have’ optional extra.

Here’s what I think about that. It’s a belief I’ve held since Film Sprites PR first came into being 5 years ago, and I believe in it passionately to this day: no matter how ‘big’ or ‘small’ your film or webseries, you deserve publicity, and you can achieve it. When I began my career as a publicist in 2013 (prior to Sprites launching a year later), streaming and self-distribution was in its infancy. Going viral was still very much a viable outcome for a film or webseries. Crowdfunding was red-hot for filmmakers, and filmmakers were seeing it as an option for funding their films.

Things have changed so much since then. With so many streaming services and many filmmakers choosing to self-distribute, there’s plenty of opportunities for your film to be seen and loved, but you can also benefit from additional publicity to help reviews and features to roll in. But as you know, every cent needs to be accounted for when you’re making a film, and if you have a small or non-existent publicity budget, what do you do? Most PR firms charge in the thousands (at Film Sprites PR we work in with your budget, however)…so how can you maximise publicity while not breaking the bank?

I’m going to give you some handy options, including options that are absolutely free. Yes, really! Plus, I’ll give you some other low-cost options to help you get more bang for your publicity buck. At a later date, I’m going to cover the best way for you to work out a potential publicity budget for your indie film, but for now let’s look at some smart options:

FREE OPTIONS:

Cultivating your social media presence

woman on social media

As mentioned in the last blog post, 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. Growing your audience takes time (don’t buy followers!), but it’s something that is extremely worthwhile. Plus, signing up for most social media sites is free…the only thing that’s not free is your internet connection and/or data usage on your smart phone. If you do have a bit of cash to spare, you can think about doing some promoted posts via Instagram or Facebook, but it’s not completely necessary.

Getting indie-loving blogs and websites to publish your press release

There are a few excellent indie-loving blogs and websites that will very happily publish your press release, which means you have added visibility via their sites and social media. For instance, FilmDebate provides a FREE promotion service that is well worth checking out. You can also find genre-specific sites who offer similar.

Connecting with your audience via e-mail marketing

air mail

As I’ve mentioned previously, e-mail marketing via a service like Mailchimp is a great way to connect to your audience. You can provide updates, share news and previews, and can also provide things like digital assets or copy-and-paste Twitter and Facebook post suggestions your subscribers can use on their social media in the run-up to a film’s launch.

Screening your film for interested local groups

film strip film publicity

Having public screenings can be expensive when you have to hire a venue, etcetera…but how about having a free screening at meetings of interested local groups? Many interest groups and societies feature guest speakers at meetings, so getting in touch with relevant groups and societies could also be a great option to help amplify the signal. Does your film have an astronomy theme? Get in touch with the local astronomical society. Would it appeal to the local multisport community? Have a chat to a local multisport group to arrange a screening and Q&A if they’re keen. Take your film right to your audience locally and who knows what could happen on a wider scale?

Uploading video content to Facebook

The shifting sands of the Facebook algorithm means content creators have to keep on their toes constantly. At the moment, the algorithm on the Book of Face (which dictates what content is shown to users over other content) favours video content that is uploaded, not just a shared link. So instead of just sharing the link to your trailer, take the time to upload it to your Facebook page. Better yet, uploading means you have options for tags that are relevant to your video, giving your content a better chance of being seen.

INEXPENSIVE OPTIONS:

Promoting a post on social media

posters on wall.jpg

If you have a little bit of money available for publicity and social media marketing purposes and your audience are a demographic who use Facebook and/or Instagram frequently, it’s worth promoting some of your posts. I find promoting posts more effective than paying for advertising from an algorithm and engagement point of view. In one previous instance of promoting a post during a crowdfunding campaign we saw an upswing in donations during the promotional period, and at one point during the promotional period we raised $2,000 in thirty minutes.

If you’re strategic about where and who you want to reach with your promotion, as well as the tags you use and the right image, you can see tangible benefits.

Screenings at art co-ops and local venues

Hiring a cinema for a screening can be expensive…but what about smaller local venues like art co-ops, galleries and other multi-use spaces? Many have inexpensive renting fees, or if you can twist a friendly arm you might be able to wrangle a venue for free.

It’s also worth talking to local campuses about renting spaces for screenings, for instance lecture theatres. Look at all of your options and see which is the most cost-effective.

Website promotions

Some websites (particularly in the horror film genre) offer promoted posts or advertising space on their sites. These can vary in price-range but can also come with additional added extras, like having your posts shared with their (usually extensive) social media following. This is definitely more effective than print advertising, a lot cheaper and you have the added bonus of having your film or webseries connect with the very audience you want.

As you can see, there’s plenty of options available to help you achieve your publicity and digital marketing goals when you’re stretched for cash. Our blog also provides a wealth of hints and tips on publicity and digital marketing for indie filmmakers, so make sure you check it out. Don’t want to do the publicity heavy lifting for your film? Have a chat with us about how we can assist your film. We work in with your budget to ensure you get maximum results and don’t break the bank.

It’s A Marathon, Not a Sprint: Looking After Yourself During a Crowdfunding Campaign

its-a-marathon-not-a-sprint-thumbs-up-film-sprites-pr-min

Confession: I am a wee bit of a mother hen when it comes to people. Even here at Film Sprites PR I make sure our team members are doing well, feeling their best and taking care of themselves.

The same is true for the filmmakers we work with, especially during a crowdfunding campaign. In addition to assisting them with publicity and digital marketing of their campaign, I have a tendency to also dispense advice about self-care when it comes to the crowdfunding campaign period.

A crowdfunding campaign is very much like having an additional full-time job. It can be tremendously exciting, and when that percentage marker is inching up towards the 100% mark it can be very tempting to work every hour of the day helping to get even closer. I know- I’ve been there! But making sure that you and your team look after yourselves during the campaign period is vital- you need to avoid burn-out.

With that in mind, I’m giving you the advice I have given filmmakers over the past two years when it comes to self-care during a crowdfunding campaign.

Think of a campaign as a marathon, not a sprint: the clock starts on the campaign, and you’re refreshing your browser every chance you get. The contributions start coming in, but perhaps they’re more a trickle than a flood. You start to panic. Is this supposed to happen?

Firstly- breathe. If you have a slow start to contributions, it doesn’t necessarily mean that’s going to set the trend for the entire campaign. I’ve seen examples where contributions have come in steadily and then all of a sudden there’s a spike in contributions or someone has very generously donated a sizeable amount. Suspend your expectations and focus on each moment at a time, each task at a time. It’s not over until the clock hits 00:00 minutes remaining!

stadium-crowd-min

Photo credit: Davide Ragusa

Have a solid team behind you: it’s tempting to take everything on yourself. As an indie filmmaker you’ve most probably worn quite a few different hats in your time when making a film, but no person is an island when it comes to crowdfunding.

Prior to your campaign period, assemble a reliable team that can be allocated various tasks. If you’re not working with a PR consultancy (like us!) to secure media placements, you may wish to have someone allocated to reach out to the media. You’re going to want to have more than one hand on deck to assist with campaign work via social media, etc. This means you have consistent campaign coverage, without burning the candle at both ends.

Screen-free meals: I’m serious about this one! It’s vital that during campaign time you have time away from your tech. Technology is so ubiquitous nowadays that we sit fiddling with our phones or scrolling on our tablets far more than is good for us. Put away the tech and have a sit-down meal.

I’m guilty of it, too, especially juggling the various international time zones we work with here at HQ, but it’s something I’ve had to be strict about- nourishing meals, 3 times a day and with no screen time for the duration of the meal. It also means your body is getting consistent energy so you’ll be able to put more into the campaign work between meals. Trust me on this one, it’s vital. There’s nothing worse than working on a crowdfunding campaign with your hand in a bag of chips and chugging back a huge can of energy drink.

Yes, you need sleep: it can be tempting to skimp on sleep, but not being rested can affect your ability to function in any setting and not just while working on your campaign. You wouldn’t expect your team members, cast and crew to go without sleep (night shoots notwithstanding), so please don’t deprive yourself of sleep.

marathon-not-a-sprint-sleeping-woman-min

Photo Credit: Nomao Saeki

Remember- you’ve got this! No, I’m not expecting you to stand in front of the mirror and do affirmations. I may be a chakra-cleansing, mantra-chanting gal myself but you don’t need to go down that road. Crowdfunding campaigns can be such a rollercoaster of emotions at times. Sometimes it’s exhilarating, sometimes it can be anxiety-inducing. No matter what, you’re doing something amazing: you’re taking charge by crowdfunding your film. You didn’t wait to be chosen-you have put blood, sweat and tears into your work. That’s something to be celebrated.

If you’re crowdfunding right now or gearing up for a campaign, the Film Sprites PR team is wishing you all the best!

Want to know more about our PR and social media marketing services for film? Download our information pamphlet HERE