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.

When’s The Best Time to Grow Your Film’s Audience?

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A few weeks ago I was up in Auckland to catch up with clients and film industry acquaintances. One afternoon, I was chatting with an acquaintance who has been in the film industry here in NZ for many years. We were discussing the best time to grow your audience for your film via publicity and social media. The consensus? Pre-production.

Yes, really! Pre-production is the best time to start to grow your audience. Mainstream releases and tentpole films generally have the benefit of being able to secure coverage and have a built-in audience due to things like the cast, a known director, being part of a franchise, and more. It can be a lot harder for indie films and filmmakers to receive that sort of coverage…but it’s not impossible. It just takes a bit of strategic planning early on in production.

So why start building your audience in pre-production?:

  • You will cultivate a following that wants to support you every step of the way: this can be particularly beneficial if you’re looking to crowdfund during production or in post.
  • Your intended audience will have more awareness of your film on release: imagine having a dedicated following and fan base ready and waiting to see your film and media outlets who are more likely to provide coverage and/or review your film because they’re aware of your film prior to release. That’s powerful stuff!

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So, how do you go about building your audience in pre-production?

Make sure you have your social media accounts and website established: if you have a production company website and social media accounts already set up and with a large following, you may want to retain that instead of setting up separate accounts, especially if you are building your audience for a short film or have a slate of films in the works. Check out our post on the most frequently asked questions about social media for filmmakers for more hints and tips.

Crowdfunded in pre-production? Capitalize on campaign updates: the great thing about crowdfunding platforms is that they provide you with the opportunity to raise funds for your project, but also help you to build an audience at the same time. The campaign updates function on your campaign page should not be forgotten after your campaign! You can find out about maintaining contributor connection after a crowdfunding campaign here.

Establish a mailing list: invite people to subscribe to your mailing list via your website or a call to action on social media. Provide content like production updates, competitions, and cut-and-paste sample tweets or Facebook posts that can be used by fans when you’re getting ready to launch!

Reward your fans: some of the most passionate, dedicated fans are the ones who follow your entire journey, so why not reward them? Think about having a ‘Fan of the Week’ post on social media, share fan art, have competitions for signed merch, and more. Your imagination is the limit here!

Start building relationships with journalists and media outlets: get to know the journalists and media outlets that you would like to secure coverage from when you’re ready to release your film. Follow them on Twitter and like them on Facebook, interact with them and share content from them that is relevant to your audience. Never underestimate the power of a great connection with media and journalists.

Building your audience in pre-production may sound daunting. After all, you’ve got so much else to juggle! But think of it as an investment in your film that will return to you right when you want it.

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!

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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.

Making The Most of Press Coverage of Your Indie Film

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Your film has been securing interviews, features and reviews- congratulations! Getting media exposure for your film can assist in growing your audience, connect you to even more media outlets (we’ll talk about that soon), and can also provide a level of social proof that can build a great foundation for future projects going forward.

While securing media alone is a great way to increase awareness and visibility, did you know that you can increase the longevity of your press mentions? It’s true! Here’s some ways you can make the most of press coverage of your indie film:

Pull quotes from reviews: This is one idea that the majority of indie filmmakers know about and use exceptionally well. However, in case you hadn’t thought about it, pulling great quotes from reviews is an excellent way to give your film the critics’ seal of approval in the eyes of your audience. You can use quotes for your film poster, in social media marketing and for your DVD/Blu-Ray cover. Reviewers are brilliant at being able to review films in a compelling way, and you will always find a deliciously eloquent quote or two to use. Better yet, get in touch with the reviewer- let them know you loved their review and would like to use a quote (or two) from the review for your marketing materials. That way they know to look out for their quote in the marketing materials and may end up sharing your poster/cover artwork/social media post as well, spreading the signal even further.

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As you can see from the Emotional Motor Unit poster above, director Adam Nelson chose to make the most of the reviews of the film by doing exactly what I’ve mentioned- pulling quotes and putting them on the poster. The Apple Park team also chose to have 2 other versions of the poster available; one which only had the above image, title and credits and a version which included film festival laurels instead of the reviewer quotes.

Make it visual: links to your features, reviews and interviews are one thing, but another thing that can have a great impact is sharing screengrabs of the press you have received, especially if you’ve had an overwhelming amount of publicity. It’s a great way to spread the good news via social media, and provides an excellent degree of social proof for your film.

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A selection of press for H2Ow Productions’ Ao-Terror-Oa horror anthology

For instance, with the New Zealand horror anthology Ao-Terror-Oa I was able to collate the press we were receiving and use it to visually demonstrate the breadth of outlets picking up the story. What was particularly notable was that we were able to secure media placements not only in NZ, but also in the US and UK. To reflect that, I chose to  include screen grabs of press from NZ outlets (Stuff, Screenz and NewsWire) and contrast that with the international press (FilmDebate, Daily Dead, Hellnotes, Movie-Blogger, Horror Society). In a glance, whether it’s on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter people can see that good things are happening for the series, not just in their native New Zealand, but also overseas.

Acknowledge all of your press coverage: one thing I see people doing time and again is only mentioning their press coverage if they secure coverage with a ‘big’ media outlet. Of course, it’s fine to let the world know about this, but don’t forget the other outlets who have taken the time to review or feature your film. Yes, it’s exciting to be featured on Buzzfeed or Variety, but there are so many film websites, podcasts and blogs out there who have contributors who work tirelessly to provide interesting content for their audiences that also deserve acknowledgement. And if they have taken the time to review your film or write a feature, they definitely need to be acknowledged! I like Gary Vaynerchuk’s take on it (emphasis my own):

“I’ve been on Conan. Ellen. The Today Show. But I also did a thousand interviews that got one or nineteen or 137 views on YouTube. Max. Why did I do blog posts for so long that only had six readers? Why do I guest on shows with a smaller audience base than my own? Because I’m all about depth over width. I want to go deeper with my community. I want to give back to people who support me.

You can watch Gary’s video HERE.

Have an ‘In The Media’ section on your website: another way to make the most of your press coverage is by including links to features, news and reviews on your website. This also has an administrative benefit for you: by putting your press coverage on the website, you see at a glance which media outlets were responsive to your press requests, so you can make them first priority when you do media outreach for your next project. While I absolutely suggest keeping a media database for each project (which is what we do here), this gives you a quick scan of media outlets to contact first.

Post your coverage on social media: this is a no-brainer, but it needs to be mentioned because sometimes in the hubbub of post-production through to release it can be something that is an afterthought. When you post a review or feature, chances are that contributor or media outlet will also repost your content, thus amplifying the signal. It’s also a great way to say thank you to the people who have given your film coverage and show your gratitude for their feature or review. Gratitude is a powerful thing, and by showing gratitude and acknowledging your press mentions you are building a relationship with that media outlet that is mutually beneficial.

These small steps can have a powerful impact when it comes to audience building, so why not implement them the next time you have press coverage for your film?

 

Publicity Prep From Post-Production to Release

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Recently, we took you through a handy timeline for publicity and social media of your film at the various stages of production. We then broke it down even further to talk about the pivotal preparation needed from pre-production through to filming in order to put your best foot forward further down the track. Now, it’s time to give you some ideas about how to make the most of publicity and social media from post-production through to release.

In the post-production period, many films opt to crowdfund for post-production funds to finish the film, and this in itself can prove to be another opportunity to grow your social media audience and media exposure whilst securing your funds. If you’ve prepped thoroughly during pre-production through filming, chances are you have a wealth of materials available that you can use to let people know about the film, both on your crowdfunding page and via social media and regular media. People don’t like being bombarded with constant links to crowdfunding campaigns on social media, so if you can keep the consistent tone you have developed on your social media platforms from day one, you don’t run the risk of having people ‘switch off’ or unfollow. Yes, you can direct people to your crowdfunding campaign, but it doesn’t have to be done in a ‘salesy’ way.

When it comes to blogs, thankfully there are independent film blogs out there that often have sections dedicated to crowdfunding projects, and it’s a good idea to seek them out during the campaign. We’ve mentioned before that IndieWire has a special section called Project of the Day which is great exposure for your film.

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If you’re not crowdfunding for post-production funds in post-production, it’s a good time to keep your social media audience updated, especially if you have chosen to submit to festivals prior to releasing your film to a general audience. Make sure you schedule in any film festivals your film has been accepted to, and keep people up to date on social media and via your website. You can have a page on your website which links to your festival appearances to make it even easier for people to know when and where they can see your film and book tickets. If you have the budget and ability to travel to festivals, it’s worth asking the festival co-ordinators if you can distribute a one-sheet of the film to people who are seeing your film. That way they have something tangible they can take with them and hopefully talk about on social media.

During the pre-release phase, it’s a good time to reach out to reviewers. That way if they love your film it can provide you with quotes that can be put on future marketing materials and your website. I suggest asking permission to use quotes from the review prior to doing so- this is usually not a problem, but it’s better to be safe than sorry and shows that you value their writing. Let’s face it- there are some absolutely incredible reviewers out there and they do an incredible job so you want to make sure they’re happy.

Pre-release is also a good time to start pitching to media outlets for interviews and/or features. Why pre-release as opposed to release with an indie film? Editorial calendars are very tightly packed and booked far in advance, with things like blockbuster films taking prominence. Be aware of when large film festivals are taking place during the year as well, as this will also dictate the media calendar. I suggest approaching large media outlets three months from your film’s release, that way if a journalist’s interest is piqued by your film there is plenty of wiggle room to organise an interview/feature. When it comes to TV and newspaper newsrooms, it’s worth noting times when staffing is affected by holidays, as they may be working on a skeleton staffing schedule (especially over the Christmas period, more so if it’s in the Southern Hemisphere where it’s summer in December) . It’s definitely worth getting involved with regional news outlets and community newspapers, especially if you’ve filmed in a particular region. Quite often here in NZ it hits the news when foreign film crews are in the country (for instance, the latest instalment in the Mission: Impossible franchise were on location in NZ recently), but even if you’re from the same country/state/region, having a film crew filming in the area can be of great interest.

When it comes to your film’s release, it’s all systems go! By this stage you hopefully have reviews that you can share with your social media followers, interviews or features, and hopefully some festival laurels as well. You can still continue pitching for reviews and features at this stage, but this is best reserved for film blogs and podcasts as they can be more flexible than large media outlets when it comes to being able to fit a review or feature into their editorial schedule.

Don’t forget local groups and organisations, especially if you have a film that is suitable for a particular group, interest or demographic. Got a film with an astronomy theme? See if you can have information about the film posted in the newsletters of local and national astronomical societies. If you haven’t secured a distributor and you are self-distributing, think about having small exclusive screenings in places that are relevant to your film. Let’s go with the astronomy theme again for a moment: you arrange with the local astronomical society to have an exclusive screening and Q&A with the director at the local planetarium or society headquarters (make sure you have someone on standby to post on social media, e.g. live tweet the Q&A, post pictures on Instagram etc!). Have one-sheets on hand for the viewers to take with them, and if you have physical DVD/Blu-ray copies of the film you could get your director and/or cast to sign the covers and then have a giveaway during the event. Or perhaps your film is a documentary about an aspect of the fair trade coffee industry. Contact a local fair trade coffee company and ask if they will sponsor a screening and Q&A with free samples of their coffee, or a coffee tasting event. With these sorts of events it’s definitely worthwhile sending out a number of invitations to local media, reviewers and social media influencers so they can not only talk about the film but talk about the event as well.

And don’t forget- people love freebies! It’s worth making up special PR packages for social media influencers or to be given away as prizes via film websites and blogs. A copy of the film, a unique postcard, a t-shirt with a catchy phrase that displays the release date of your film- the options are as endless as your imagination.

Publicity and social media for your film doesn’t have to be a chore. It can be creative, energizing and a lot of fun, but you do need to put in the groundwork to maximise your success. Good luck!