Contacting People About Your Film Via E-Mail? Avoid These Mistakes!

Email Mistakes

When it comes to connecting your audience to your film or webseries, social media is fantastic. But combine that with pitching to media and doing outreach to interest groups and influencers via e-mail, and you’ve got a winning combination. There are, however, some things to avoid when pitching; common mistakes I see happening every day, especially when they land in my inbox!

Have I made these mistakes before? Oh yes, absolutely. When I first started out I made many of these mistakes. I’ve always vowed to be honest on the blog!

Here are some mistakes to avoid so your e-mail isn’t instantly relegated to the trash folder, as well as some handy tips to get the most out of your e-mail exchanges:

Not Doing Your Research

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I cannot tell you how many times my inbox is full of people who haven’t done their research about Sprites, and what we do. Their emails contain references to the possibility of me writing a review and ‘sharing with [my] readers’. I’ve seen frustrated journalists on Twitter talking about people who e-mail them with an inappropriate request, like asking them to write about a beauty product when they’re a tech journalist, and so on. I cannot stress how important it is to do your research before contacting someone.

Whether it’s pitching your film for a potential story in a newspaper or contacting a reviewer, check out whether your film is a good ‘fit’ for that particular avenue. For instance, if you’re looking to receive coverage in a regional newspaper, what connections does your film have to that area? What’s ‘newsworthy’ for that particular newspaper that would encourage them to do a feature or interview?

Research also avoids embarrassing faux pas, like contacting someone who is a vegan and animal rights advocate when your film has hunting in it, or reaching out to an organisation without vetting them first and then finding out that they have ideals that don’t align with the message of your film. The advantage of doing thorough research instead of just firing out e-mails haphazardly is that you get to know who is interested in covering what, and who you may potentially be able to contact again for a future project if it aligns with their interests and the interests of their audiences.

Copy and Pasting Messages

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I can always tell when someone has copied and pasted their information, because it will contain things that raise red flags. Sometimes, they’ll mention that they love something I’ve done…but I haven’t done it. Or it’s so generic that there’s not even a greeting at the start!

Personalising your emails takes time- and that doesn’t mean just changing the name of the person you’re sending it to, and the name of their blog/publication/website, etcetera- but it’s worth doing. Make sure you tailor your e-mails to each person, including the tone of your message. If you’re corresponding with a hip influencer, you can afford to be a bit more informal. If you’re reaching out to a journalist, your tone might be a bit more formal. The personal touch really means a lot, but also people can definitely tell if you’re sending out generic copy and paste e-mails. That often says to people that you actually don’t care about their specific publication or organisation, you’re just flinging e-mails out there and hoping something sticks. And speaking of copy and paste, this next no-no is the one that is the most infuriating of all…

Sending Unsolicited Links Without Explanation

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I’ve previously written about the one thing we have to stop doing on social media, and it ties in with this. There are countless times I have opened an email to see a copy and pasted synopsis of a film, with a link. No salutation, not even an ‘ask’ to share or for any other assistance. This habit ties in with the two above to make for an infuriating e-mail experience! People can’t tell from this interaction what you’re looking for. Are you wanting them to share the information via social media? If so, that’s not the right way to go about it. Again, it’s better to personalise your e-mail, and ask for what you want to happen with regards to that link. It doesn’t guarantee that person will comply, but it makes for a much nicer experience (and your e-mail won’t end up in the trash folder).

E-mail is a tool that has been a part of our existence for so long now that I think people have forgotten the art of conversation. E-mail is a conversation, so make sure it’s a good one. And I’m going to play Devil’s advocate here: you might be thinking; “I don’t have time to do that.” It may mean that you spend a bit longer with your e-mail communications, or, if you can’t hire a publicist, allocate the task to someone on your team. The benefits of being mindful about your e-mail communications are numerous, including forging positive ongoing relationships with journalists, having the support of influencers and organisations you can potentially call on again in future, and having your creative endeavours viewed in a tremendously positive light.

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?!?!?

 

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.

Getting More Bang for your Publicity Buck

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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.

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.

 

What Part Should Publicity Play In Your Crowdfunding Campaign?

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This month on the blog, we’ve focused on crowdfunding for filmmakers, covering subjects like aspects you need to consider prior to running a crowdfunding campaign for your webseries or film, common mistakes to avoid in your crowdfunding campaign, and the benefits of crowdfunding beyond the financial. In this post, I want to discuss a subject that is very close to my heart, which is publicity. Specifically, I want to discuss the role that publicity tends to play in crowdfunding campaigns.

Now, if you’ve worked with Film Sprites PR before, or have followed the blog, you’ll know that I’m a straight-shooter who believes in transparency. I’m not going to suggest you take on one of our PR or digital marketing services if I don’t think it’s going to be beneficial in the long-term, and I’m incredibly honest on the blog because I believe that people can learn from the pitfalls and mistakes I have gone through in the almost 4 years that Film Sprites PR has been operating. One pitfall for me was in regards to the role that publicity plays in a crowdfunding campaign.

Being that I was passionate about being a publicist in the film industry, I thought that when it came to crowdfunding campaigns, publicity was the be-all end-all. Get a feature about the campaign in front of indie film-loving fans and watch the dollars roll in!

*record scratch*

Errrr….not quite.

Don’t get me wrong, publicity for your crowdfunding campaign is fantastic- not only does it create awareness around the campaign, it also helps to bring your film/webseries to the attention of your potential audience. Both of these are very good things. But do they translate into dollars for your crowdfunding campaign? Not always. Bear in mind the fact that statistically 90% of contributions to your crowdfunding campaign will come from your existing networks. You might experience a higher percentage of contributions from film fans and your potential audience if you have well-known actors, but again that’s no guarantee.

Am I trying to pee in your cornflakes and tell you not to pursue publicity for your crowdfunding campaign? Heavens, no! But if (like Publicist Me of 2013) you are placing more weight and expectation on securing funds as the result of media placements, you might have to re-think that.

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You might recall the Who’s In Your Network? infographic I shared in a previous post. Publicity falls into the ‘other’ category on that infographic, right at the tip of the triangle and with the least amount of weight compared to your personal network and your film’s network. Depending on whether your film or webseries has an actor or actors who have considerable followings, publicity can sit between ‘other’ and ‘film’s network’, but that’s an instance when you can put more more importance on media outreach.

A rule of thumb? Focus on your personal and film’s networks and how you can connect with and secure contributions from them first and foremost. Publicity is a useful tool in your arsenal, but it shouldn’t be the only thing you rely on. Crowdfunding campaign strategy is less a straight line and more a web of interconnected parts that function as a whole.

So if you’re keen to source publicity during your crowdfunding campaign, here’s some hints and tips to help you:

  • If you’re approaching bloggers and film websites, be sure to read their ‘about’ and ‘contact’ pages to make sure they’re a good fit. Some bloggers and websites have a strict policy whereby they don’t accept press release submissions from films in crowdfunding campaign mode because they get inundated with them. Respect their wishes and don’t send them an unsolicited press release because you think your campaign may be the one that changes their mind. After all, you can always come back to them when your film or webseries has been released and/or requires reviews.
  • Don’t just copy and paste the same pitch to every outlet. An editor wants to know why your crowdfunding campaign is newsworthy, and why their audience would be interested in it. Of course you may want to outsource this particular task to someone who does publicity for a living, as they know exactly how to pitch and which media outlets would be most suitable to pitch to.
  • You’re going to be exceptionally busy with your campaign, so if you have pitched to media it’s worth setting up a Google alert (or two) for your phone and inbox, that way you can keep track of any published features. It’s incredibly useful post-campaign as well because you can continue to track not just features from outlets you’ve pitched to, but any organic earned media that comes up. This happened a few weeks ago with a client of mine. We had sent out review requests in November 2017 and an outlet discovered the film in 2018 and reviewed it, and that outlet was not part of our media list for that film at the time.
  • There are varying schools of thought as to whether you should attach a PDF of your press release, copy and paste it to the e-mail, etc. I tend to favour creating a Dropbox folder which includes the PDF of your press release, any video clips you’d like an outlet to potentially use, as well as high-resolution images that are clearly named (no random numbers!). That way you can pitch to media and give them the Dropbox link without potentially getting caught in their spam folder because you’ve sent an attachment.

Publicity is a useful tool to have in your crowdfunding toolkit, but it should be used in conjunction with other methods of connecting with contributors to assist with your success.