We’ve been in business for three decades. I’ve worked as a journalist and magazine editor TV producer, as well as a PR consultant, so I understand how the media works from both sides of the fence. We have placed clients in wide-range of media outlets including: Time, Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, The Oprah Winfrey Show, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, BBC, Filmmaker Magazine, Variety, Publisher’s Weekly, Indiewire and the Huffington Post. We work closely with our clients and are responsive. Our motto is effective PR is effective storytelling and who better understands storytelling than writers and filmmakers?
It depends on the campaign, the outreach and the project. As with the campaigns themselves, there is no one-size-fits all.
In short, no. Various wire services will send out press releases for you. The fees vary depending on the company and whether the release is going to be targeted to local, regional, national or international media. They will send out your press release, but there will be no follow up. It’s sent out and you wait. A poor gamble. Press releases can be effective for celebrities, breaking news stories, established companies, the government and a few others. Will a press release benefit writers or filmmakers who are trying to establish themselves and their works? Seldom. People use them to help their SEO and online presence. But sending out a press release and waiting is very rarely going to land you any real media coverage.
Social media is composed of a number of online platforms that allow you to utilize different approaches to connect, communicate and share your content. It was initially used simply to keep people in touch. Now, it has expanded beyond anyone’s initial expectations. It is one of the first places people go to learn about you, your career and your works. Anyone on social media is now in the media. Although you might think you’re simply posting pictures, or ideas and not marketing anything, that’s not the case. Consider your social media platforms your own personal media outlet- featuring you. The various platforms provide you the opportunity to portray your book, your film and your unique brand specifically how you want it to be seen. Social media is an online mirror where you can create the reflection. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and many other platforms are avenues for you to communicate and to showcase your creative talents. It is a remarkable tool for marketing you, your works and your brand. What social media is not is traditional public relations. They are two different animals. They are most effective when used in tandem. Combined, social media can enhance your PR outreach and PR can help establish and build your social media following.
If you think that having an Amazon page, or a listing on your publisher’s website is enough, think again. If you think a Facebook page, or a presence on Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn or Twitter is sufficient – keep thinking. Yes, it’s incredibly important to have a presence on various social media platforms. But a social media page should not, nor should it be your online home base. Having your own website is essential. You control the information on the site. It’s where you present yourself to the public and the media. Having your own website is like building your own home. It’s yours. You live there. You call the shots. You control exactly how it looks, what it says and how and when it changes. This is vital to how you present your work, your film, your book and yourself. It doesn’t have to be elaborate. Forget the bells and whistles. You want a clean, welcoming, easy to navigate site that accurately presents you and your works. So, in short, yes you need your own website.
At our firm, we start with a brainstorming session followed by a media training session. The more we know about you and your book or film, the better prepared we’ll be to launch a successful campaign. That said, when working with a PR company you want to stay in touch but don’t continually call or email. Don’t try to micromanage your campaign. You’ve hired the firm to do a job, so trust their expertise. Make sure to give your PR firm the images of you and your book or film that they need. Make yourself available for interviews. And work your PR. Share it on your website, social media, other marketing avenues. Maximize its effect by amplifying it. I can’t stress this next point enough.
Every campaign is different. PR is a comprehensive career-building approach, a cumulative process. It is not a one-time, quick-fix. Don’t approach it as you would an advertising fire sale. It is a way to not only sell your books or films, but to build your brand and establish yourself as an author or filmmaker, although there are times where we’ve landed a prime-time national media hit in the first few weeks, that is not the norm. It is generally a building, cumulative process. As to results and timeline, our clients can expect to start seeing results and media placements in the first month. We then use those placements to secure more media coverage. Media begets media.
This is an interesting one, in that it’s easy to miss all of the ways that an effective PR or media campaign can benefit you, your brand, your projects and your career. Some authors have told me that they measure the effectiveness of their marketing and PR strictly on how many books they sell. That’s certainly one measure, but let’s look at that. A few years ago, when Oprah still had her daytime talk show, we booked a client on her show. We booked the same client on a local TV show. The client sold more books from her appearance on the local show. So, if we were to measure success strictly on books sold, we’d come to the conclusion that the local show was a bigger PR success than the Oprah booking. But, if we were also to take into account the effect that the Oprah appearance had on our client’s overall career, the opportunities it opened up for the client, and how it helped to build her brand, there is no question that the appearance on Oprah was far and away the most successful and important media placement. Don’t simply look at PR as a way to sell. To measure the return on investment, look at how it establishes you in your field, presents you as an expert, paves the way for other opportunities, builds your brand and offers you the validation and credibility of being featured in the news.
What makes PR so valuable is that not everyone can land a story in Time or Variety, or the New York Times. If everyone could, those placements would be ubiquitous and therefore valueless. So, what guarantees can a PR company make? PR professionals can guarantee are their track record, how long they’ve been in business and whether they’ve been successful in the past. They can let know whether they understand your field and target market Every campaign is different, as is every book and every film. As to our firm, although it’s impossible to guarantee what specific media we’ll land for a particular campaign until we launch, what we can guarantee is that we’ve been in business for thirty years, have placed clients in local, regional and national media outlets, and have never worked with a client that we haven’t placed in the media.
PR is the most impactful way to establish your brand. It offers you and your book or film the credibility and validation of being featured in the news. You can then use that coverage to help maximize and amplify your brand as an author or filmmaker. Effective PR is more than media placement. Once you’ve been feature in a magazine, newspaper, blog, podcast, radio or TV segment, you want to magnify that. Put it on your website, post it on your social media platforms. Use it in all of your marketing material. If you’re a filmmaker use your media not only to promote your current film, but to help sell or finance upcoming projects. It helps establish not only your film, but you as a filmmaker. Similarly, if you’re an author, PR not only helps establish your current book, it establishes you as an author that the media is interested in. It separates you from the competition. It paves the way for other books and helps establish your brand.
When you buy an ad, or a commercial, or launch a direct marketing campaign, or an email campaign you’re are utilizing what is known as paid media. You are paying to have your message appear in a certain venue at a certain time. You write the copy and supply the images and you pay for the dissemination of your ad in magazines, newspapers, TV, radio and online. You know when and where your message will appear, but you also know that whoever sees that message understands that they are seeing an ad, or a commercial. Anyone, well nearly anyone, with enough money could buy that same space or time. PR is unlike any of those forms of marketing. Let’s start with what it’s not. PR is not a lot of things including: advertising, direct marketing, digital marketing, sales promotion, and – I need a megaphone here – public relations is not social media social media! Although media relations and social media can at times overlap and can be combined to create a powerful marketing tool, the fact remains that traditional PR and social media are two different animals
PR is a completely unique approach to marketing. It is earned media. When you’re featured in a magazine, newspaper or interviewed on TV or radio or in a podcast, you’re not relegated to the advertising section or shown in a commercial spot, you are featured as the news. You are the reason a person buys a magazine, or newspaper, or watches a TV segment, or listens to a radio interview. PR offers the validation, credibility and trust factor of being featured in the news, which is why it is the most powerful approach to establishing your book or your film or building your brand.
Only a select few can land a story in a magazine, newspaper, or a segment on TV or radio. A news story is much more impactful and long-lasting than an ad, commercial, post or tweet. The credibility factor of being featured in the news is immense. Media begets media. The effect is cumulative and exponential.
PR is the only form of marketing that offers you the validation, credibility and trust-factor of being featured in the news. The public is savvy enough to realize that anyone with enough money can buy and ad, or a commercial or finance a direct marketing campaign. Whereas those forms of marketing can be an important part of an overall strategy, they are paid media. PR is unique. It is a completely different approach. PR is earned media. When you land press coverage through PR, you’re not relegated to the advertising section or shown in a commercial spot, you are featured as the editorial section. You are the reason the public buys a magazine, or newspaper, or watches a TV segment, or listens to a radio interview. PR is the most powerful approach to establishing your book or your film or building your brand. You are not in a commercial or an ad. You are featured in the news – You are the news!
Our motto at PR for Writers & Filmmakers is – effective PR is effective storytelling. PR is the perfect medium for writers or filmmakers, because it involves an art form they intrinsically understand- the art of storytelling. Our job as PR professionals is not to sell, but to offer the media compelling stories that will interest their readers, listeners, or viewers. If we can meet the media’s needs, we will meet our client’s needs. When I worked as a magazine editor, the most common mistake that people made when pitching me is that they pitched what they found interesting, instead of trying to figure out what I and my readers found interesting. Learning that lesson has served me (and my clients) well. First meet the media’s needs and then you’ll meet yours.
As to the workings of a PR campaign, every company works a bit differently. We begin by brainstorming with our clients to find their stories, keeping in mind that the most obvious stories aren’t always the most effective ones. We then set up a media training session. Our media trainer has decades of experience and has prepared clients to be interviewed by a wide range of media outlets, from small regional outlets to Oprah, Good Morning America and Time. Once we find the stories and develop the appropriate pitches, we reach out to the media and start placing stories, interviews, and features. When launching a traditional PR campaign, we focus on magazines, newspapers, radio, TV, blogs and podcasts. Each media outlet has its own needs and reaches its unique market. And each placement, regardless how small, is integral to the overall campaign. We don’t solely focus on large mainstream media outlets. PR is cumulative. It’s a building process. Media begets media.
PR is not a luxury for a writer or a filmmaker. It is a necessity. Some incredible books and films have never seen the light of day, because they were never promoted. If you’re creating works to be seen, if you want them to sell or if you’re looking to establish a career as a writer or filmmaker, then you owe it to yourself (and to your work) to build a bridge between you and your audience. And PR can be a remarkable bridge. The question authors and filmmakers need to ask is not if they should launch a PR campaign, but when and how. Bill Gates once said: “If I was down to my last dollar, I would spend it on public relations.” Why argue with Bill?