Create & Wait: An Author’s Worst Marketing Approach

Many authors, filmmakers and artists, work under a strange type of “create and wait” mindset. According to this approach once a work has been created, an artist has completed his or her work and can’t be bothered with marketing or promotion.

Some feel that they shouldn’t have to market their art, others are loath to invest in their work. Those are such strange attitudes to hold around something that is so important. When I ask artists what is most important to them, the response is invariably, their art. If it’s not number one on their list, it is assuredly in the top three. Yet when it comes to caring for their art, which by definition involves marketing and promotion, that importance often seems to plummet.

This a strange disconnect. Not that it’s not understandable. We live in a culture where art is generally seen as an avocation or a hobby. We view those artists who have made it as anomalies. We could never be one of those success stories. When young artists tell their peers or families about their dreams, they are generally told to grow up and find a suitable career. Without support, is it any wonder that so many simply give up their art, or do so in secret? What other venture would have people hiding as opposed to promoting their work?

The other trap is when artists believe that marketing is beneath them. They’ve done their work and shouldn’t have to bother themselves with marketing or PR. To those I simply say – join the real world and your chances of success will increase exponentially.

If this describes you, change your mindset – now!

The best book or film in the world needs a bridge built between it and its audience. From my perspective, building that bridge is something that artists owe to their work. It’s incumbent on them to give their work the best chance it can to succeed, reach an audience, and touch others.

The trick here is to view promotion as an art.

If you can afford it, hire a professional. If not, don’t wait. There are tools you can learn and implement on your own.

Learn the art of marketing; the art of PR.

Have fun with it, experiment, be bold.

To quote Goethe: “Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.”

And the truth is if you adhere to the “create and wait” philosophy, chances are you will wait and wait and…
You get the picture.
Writers not only need to be bold in their work, they need to be bold in how they market their work.
One artist told me, he was confident his art would be discovered once he passed on. But, waiting to die in order for one’s art to be discovered doesn’t quite seem like the most effective marketing plan for your work.

Take action.
And, remember Goethe –
Be bold.

PR & Marketing in the Age of Disruption

From music to film, to publishing, to the world of fine art, the internet has forever changed marketing in the creative industries. This shift has been seismic and has turned what had been thought of as set-in-stone business models on their collective heads.

I began as a music journalist and then managed bands in the early ‘90s, but those days are gone.  The music world was the first to be rocked by the changing communication landscape, whereas many were engulfed by the changes and faded, a new breed of musicians learned to take matters into their own hands and create successful careers utilizing PR, social media and guerilla marketing

The publishing world has also been turned upside down.  No longer do traditional publishing houses hold the keys to success.  Self-published authors are taking matters and marketing into their own hands.  Increasingly self-published authors are landing on the best sellers list and on Amazon’s top 20 list.  Amanda Hocking initially became a millionaire by self publishing her work.  It was only after she was established that she signed with St. Martin’s Press.

The shifts came later to the film industry, but it too is experiencing the change.  For example, as with self-published books, CreateSpace (http://www.createspace.com) serves entrepreneurs in the music, publishing, and film worlds. As an independent producer you can upload your film as part of a digital DVD along with cover art and information on the film.  Your film is then posted for sale.  The company (which is owned by Amazon.com) takes and fulfills the orders and splits the profits with the filmmaker.  That is just one option.  There are several outlets online that help producers sell their films.  There are also new channels of distribution.  Films are now reaching the public by being shown at churches, organizations, schools, museums, and other non-traditional establishments.  Theatrical distribution is no longer the only name of the game.

That said, the most powerful marketing tool available to artists is a combination of PR and social media.  An effective public relations campaign will land you media coverage that offers you the validation and credibility that no other form of marketing can offer.  You are the news!  You can then begin to share and amplify your media coverage on your site and on your various social media platforms.  Compared to other forms of marketing, this combined approach can be extremely effective and affordable.

Whereas the internet has torn down down some of the traditional walls and allowed artists in all fields to take more control of their careers, doing so is not always easy.  It involves creativity, persistence, and an investment of both time and money.  These changes can initially be daunting.  For years musicians, filmmakers, and authors were reluctant to rock the boat and alienate the powers that be by charting a path of their own.  But more and more artists are realizing that the old models have shifted, bringing different challenges but also opportunities.  The upside?  With tenacity and creativity, artists can now carve out successful careers on their own terms.

The Filmmaker’s 5 Main Marketing Myths

You’re a filmmaker, not a marketer or promoter.

Right?

Wrong!

That approach to filmmaking can lead you basically nowhere.  You might end up with a gem of a film, a film that’s important, a film that could succeed – and a film that gets lost.

As a novelist, playwright and PR consultant, I know both sides of the street.  I understand your marketing misgivings as an artist, as well as your promotional necessities as a marketer.  I know the practical and emotional hurdles that often come with having to market your work.

So, let’s cut to the case, when it comes to filmmaking, PR is not a luxury.

PR is a necessity.

But simply understanding you need to market isn’t enough. It’s important to know how to effectively promote you and your film.  Trouble is, there are quite a few myths floating around about how PR works. Myths that can make you feel that you’re moving forward in your PR and marketing efforts, when you’re actually standing still.  So, let’s tackle some of them.  Below are five of the main culprits

The Filmmaker’s 5 Main Marketing Myths:

1)            Sign with a distributor; and your marketing and PR will be taken care of.

2)            Regularly updating your Facebook, Twitter and Instagram is enough.

3)            Send a press release out through a paid wire service and that will take care of your PR needs.

4)            Online promotions and giveaways is all you need to establish your film in the marketplace.

5)            One magazine article or TV interview will launch your film and your career.

There are definitely more myths than these five, but these are some of the main culprits.

If you can hire a PR team or consultant, do it.  It will be well worth the money and save you headaches.  If you’re not able to, do your homework.  Learn the dos and don’ts of promoting your work.

Truth be told, a mediocre filmmaker who promotes will generally be more successful than the talented one who doesn’t.

But talented filmmakers who also market and promote are truly ahead of the game.

That’s the club you want to belong to.

 

The Indie Filmmaker’s Secret Weapon: PR

If you’ve finished shooting, or have locked your film—congratulations!

I know from experience that is not any easy process. It takes, blood, sweat, tears, and persistence—not to mention funding. So, do congratulate yourself, but then do a reality check and realize that your journey has just started.

You now need to get your film into the marketplace and promote it. What are your plans for distribution and marketing? If you’ve secured distribution that’s a huge step forward, but that in and of itself does not assure that your film will be successfully marketed. If distribution is still on your to-do list, an effective PR campaign will not only help create a buzz and establish your brand as a filmmaker, it can also solidify distribution and film festival interest.

With the film industry in such flux and more competitive than ever, effectively positioning yourself in the marketplace is more challenging than ever. At PR for Writers & Filmmakers, we’ve been promoting independent feature films (both narrative and documentary projects) for years. Having worked as a screenwriter and indie film producer, I know the hazards and pitfalls of getting a film from concept to the market. With that in mind, we’ve developed a unique PR and distribution approach designed to publicize and market films to the public, but also to help secure distribution.

Our firm specializes in media placement, media training and image development. We’ve placed clients in a wide range of local, national and international media venues including Time, Newsweek, The Today Show, 60 Minutes, CBS This Morning, CBS Evening News, People, US, Entertainment Tonight, Premiere, Fox News, USA Today, CNN, MSNBC, 20/20, Oprah, The London Times, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, The New Yorker, Rolling Stone, Entailment Weekly, and many more media outlets.

Making a film can be a magical experience, but the mistake many filmmakers make is to focus solely on the production and forget about next steps, specifically marketing and securing distribution. Too many filmmakers forget to develop an action plan they can implement once their film is completed. How are they going to get their film, promoted, marketed, distributed? What is their gameplan for building that bridge between the finished product and the audience?

Each film is unique and there are a number of different strategies we can utilize depending on the needs of each project. Effective marketing and promotion will help you achieve your primary objectives: to find your film’s audience and to make your project profitable, which will allow you to make your next film—and the next after that.

If you have a completed independent film, you need PR.

It’s that simple.

Why PR is Crucial for Your Film

Technology and the digital world have caused huge changes to what was once considered business-as-usual in the entertainment world. While the last decade has seen the music and publishing arenas changed forever, the world of film production, distribution, and marketing is also in a state of flux. There are new approaches to production, distribution, and marketing that were previously unheard of. Technology has also made it possible for full-length films to be created on minimal budgets, and there are a myriad of new distribution channels available.

Still, one question remains. What comes after you’ve produced your film? How is it possible to establish yourself in the industry, secure distribution, or reach your target market?

Social media is one very important piece of the puzzle. However, to get the attention that’s needed to move forward, an effective and well-targeted PR campaign is your best approach. A traditional media campaign is critical.

Why is PR crucial when launching a feature film?

Simple.

PR is the only form of marketing that offers you (as well as your film) the validation and credibility of being featured in newspapers, magazines, TV, and radio in online media outlets. Being featured in the media creates an undeniable buzz, building a brand for you and your movie. Being able to land that type of press coverage puts you a cut above the competition. And finally, it puts your film on the map, and shows that you can be a key player in the marketplace. Once you’ve put these elements into place, you can start to broaden the scope of your own marketing outreach.

When pitching the media, keep in mind that the stories and pitches that interest you aren’t necessarily those that will interest the media. Take time to study the media outlets you’re approaching. What type of stories and angles do they focus on? Let those be your guide.

Remember, you don’t want to simply focus on reviews for your film. Rather, what you need is a mix of interviews, features and reviews about you and your film. Brainstorm, come up with some creative, unique media pitches and hooks about you, your film, the cast, the story, etc. Once you’ve secured some press, you can utilize your media coverage in your social media outreach. That allows you to amplify the media you’ve secured.

A campaign that blends traditional and social media is going to be the most effective. But to start, you need to land some media coverage.

Our motto is effective PR is effective storytelling.

So, what are your stories?

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PRFW Goes Global: Australia’s Smartphone Film Festival and a Chance to Win Free PR

PR for Writers is always looking for fun opportunities to collaborate, so we’re especially pleased about our newest partnership with Australia’s SmartFone Flick Fest (SF3). Now in its third year, SF3 an international film festival showcasing short films produced on smartphones and tablets.

The powerhouses behind it are Angela Blake and Ali Crew, two women who share PRFW’s passion for creative storytelling. Inspired by the growing prevalence and prestige of mobile work in the age of technological innovation, they wanted to offer both new and seasoned filmmakers a chance to really get involved. As Angela explains, “Smartphone filmmaking has burst into the mainstream in recent years, with many TV shows and feature films in the U.S. shooting on smartphones. The critically acclaimed 2015 film Tangerine was shot entirely on an iPhone 5s and picked up a slew of awards at some of the top international film festivals.”

SF3 Poster 2017 (1) SF3 receives hundreds of incredible entries from Australia and around the world. “Each year we’re wowed by the quality of films being submitted into the festival. From first-time filmmakers to industry stalwarts, the technology, apps and editing software that’s out there means the quality of films being produced is staggering,” notes Ali.

This year, the top ten films will be screened at the Gala Final Awards Screening at Palace Chauvel Cinema in Sydney, Australia and at the International Mobile Film Festival in San Diego, California. One film will be declared the overall winner, but there are also several other awards up for grabs, including kids’ choice, best first-time filmmaker, and—a new category this year—the SF360 for VR pieces.

Win a Month of Free PR

Naturally we’re biased, but one of our favorite parts about this is that the winner of the festival gets a free month of PR services from our firm. We’re beyond excited to check out all the fantastic submissions from around the world, and we’re looking forward to working with the next up-and-coming filmmaker.

What are you waiting for? Grab your smartphone and get filming: submissions are due August 1!

For submission details and information about the festival, visit sf3.com.au

PRFW Summer Internship Program

Want to learn the nuts and bolts of the industry?

No filing, getting coffee, or answering phones: learn how to develop and implement PR campaigns, and to maximize impact across social media platforms through compelling content and advertising. There are also three industry events at which you’ll be a guest, not counting optional partner events.

Responsibilities include, but are not limited to:

Requirements:
Must have excellent written and verbal communication skills, be able to work effectively under minimal supervision, and be comfortable with social media (principally Facebook and Twitter).

This is a part-time, unpaid summer internship. Mostly remote work, with meetings at the office twice a week. You’ll build a network of industry connections and receive career coaching for your next steps as a professional. This position reports to Senior Account Executive Analise Electra Smith-Hinkley.

To apply, please send cover letter and resume to prforwriters@gmail.com by July 1.

A Conversation with Kathleen Sexton Kaiser

I met Kathleen at the wonderfully produced 805 Writers’ Conference. I make a point of that, since she produced it. Kathleen is a savvy navigator of all things publishing. With four published books and three plays under her belt, she understands how authors and artists are often confused by the new world of marketing their products and themselves. Kathleen, whose expertise encompasses seminars, conferences, special events, publicity, marketing communications and trade show production, maintains a small list of clients that allow her to continue her volunteerism, which includes being co-founder and executive director of the Pacific Institute for Professional Writing, producer of the annual 805 Writers’ Conference, president of the national organization Small Publishers, Artists & Writers Network (SPAWN), and organizer of a monthly literary meeting in Thousand Oaks, CA sponsored by SPAWN and the Independent Writers of Southern California. The following is a conversation with Kathleen on books, writers and the brave new world of publishing.

How did you get started working with writers?

I’ve always had people that write in my world. My career began as a music journalist and most of my friends were writers for local papers or magazines. Moving into the corporate world, I wrote marketing copy or hired copywriters. It was a learning curve to understand how to creatively describe a business or product.

I’d written a novel, and took it to the Santa Barbara Writers Conference in 1998. That’s where I met this new world of writers and instructors—pros that were writing or editing everyday. The conference was a master class for me and is where I met the legendary southern California editor, Shelly Lowenkopf. He changed my entire view of writing.

What initially drew you to the field?

Always been a storyteller. Made up stories for my paper dolls, then for friends to act out. Was a school newspaper columnist by seventh grade and published in a local newspaper at sixteen. Founded a Beatles Fan Club in San Diego at fifteen and wrote a small newsletter. By twenty, I was an editor at Teen Screen Magazine in Hollywood, next west coast editor for Rock Magazine while freelancing articles. I worked until I was 32 as either a music journalist or publicist writing press releases. During that time, I wrote countless articles for publications in America, Canada, England, Italy and Japan and four books on rock and roll for Japan.

In 1997 I fell and broke my foot. Cooped up in the house I came up with an idea for a screenplay that eventually became my novel.

What are the main changes you’ve seen since you began working with authors?

How much they have to do to market their books and become mini-entrepreneurs. They must have an ability to write blogs, tweets, and talk about their books. Fortunately, I worked for 20 years in graphic design following the desktop publishing revolution of the late 80s right into the internet. Gave me a leg up on understanding the technology and, by working with a real futurist, Jonathan Seybold, I was introduced early to new tools that made writing and designing books easier. Then the World Wide Web exploded and we can never look back.

Authors are now in control of their destiny as long as they want to put in the hard work. Publishing is a business, not a hobby. It takes commitment.

How has self-publishing changed the publishing world?

It’s not really self-publishing that changed, it was two things that changed publishing: going digital drastically lowered the price of producing a quality looking book; and two, Amazon. Vanity presses have been around forever. Now you don’t need to fill your garage with boxes of boxes. Everything is done Print on Demand. If anyone tells you to order hundreds of books, run away. Totally not necessary. They are just taking your money.

For years independent films have been considered art, but self-published books were viewed as vanity projects.  Is that changing and if so, why?

The content and quality are what matter. Is it art? Only if it moves you. It’s all in story. Personally, I put down a book with grammar and construction errors because they pull me right out of the story. Most important relationship a writer has is with a great editor. They can save your book. And I don’t mean editors for grammar or punctuation. I mean real development and content editors.

What are some of the biggest pitfalls that self-published writers need to be aware of? 

Cost, distribution, marketing, and the time commitment you need to make to have any success. Plus, having a well-written story that follows the norms for writing in the 21st Century. If you haven’t read 20 bestsellers in your genre over the last 3 years, then you have no idea how much style has drastically changed. What readers want now are action from the first page. The days of 70s and 80s writing with long setups are gone.

Remember, buyers can read the first 3 pages on Amazon. If you don’t grab them within 3 pages, they don’t buy your book. Writing is competing with film, which drops you into the action immediately and your character must fight they way out from page one.

Pitfalls include the many scammers out there pretending to be publishers who take your book and then charge you a small fortune to publish your book. NO REAL PUBLISHER charges the writer. There are some good hybrid publishers who charge a small fee, but READ THE FINE PRINT.

Tell me about The Small Publishers, Artists & Writers Network (SPAWN)

SPAWN has been around for twenty years. In the beginning their goal was to build a community of writers, which the internet allowed because we didn’t need meetings with everything online. We have an award-winning website that is a top resource for writers. Our free monthly newsletter goes out to over 4,000 writers in five countries. Our Market Update, which is a member benefit, gives tips for marketing a book, for illustrators on style and color trends, for small publishers an update on what is happening in the world of publishing. I read or monitor over 50 newsletters to create each Update, bringing what I feel is the latest news, trends, and tips SPAWN members need to stay on the leading edge of book publishing.

How did you become involved with the 805 Writers’ Conference?

I produced the Ventura Writers Fair in 2010 and invited Shelly Lowenkopf to speak. He and I got talking afterwards about the many changes happening in the 805 area, the decline in the Santa Barbara Writers Conference and the need for better education. We co-founded the Pacific Institute for Professional Writing in 2011 and launched the first conference along with a series of workshops and intensives. This year we launched the Indie Author Seminars for writers considering self-publishing. Since I produced technology conferences and trade shows for years, it was a natural fit to be the producer of the 805 Writers’ Conference.

What part of your work fulfills you the most? 

Hearing the joy in a writer’s voice when they receive that first printed copy of their book. The struggle and time invested to get to that point can be exhausting and the sheer triumph of holding your new book is amazing. I know it was for me.

Helping people avoid mistakes I’ve seen done in the past. Showing them how to build an audience and sell some books. Though I run two literary groups, my main work is in book marketing. I want to share what I’ve learned with others.

What are the three main tips you’d give to writers?

  1. Learn the craft. Take classes from established pros that work in the industry. If you can’t find one in your area, take university writing classes at night.
  2. Attend writer conferences. Meet the instructors, get on their newsletter or Facebook lists and learn. Meet agents and editors. Submit your book to qualified editors and listen to what they say. With my novel, I went through two editors that helped my writing more than anything else.
  3. Understand that publishing is a business that must be worked. You need to commit to finding and building your audience. Even bestselling authors must now market their own books. Marketing departments at publishers have gone the way of dodo birds.

Learn more about Kathleen at www.KathleenKaiserAndAssociates.com.

6 Tips To Successfully Market Your Film Online

marketing filmJust about anyone with a film is going to be marketing it online, which is why I continually recommend launching a PR campaign to separate you and your film from the competition. But, that said, marketing you and your film via your blog and the various social media platforms is essential. The trick is you don’t simply want to make noise or add followers. You need your content to connect and engage your target market. A filmmaker with 10 thousand engaged followers is in much better shape than one with 100 thousand followers who are paying no attention.

So how do you maximize your online marketing?

To start pick the platforms that are most likely to reach your target audience. Next start creating compelling content and make your audience feel engaged. Build a tribe that with a connection to you and your film(s). If you connect and have a genuine call-to-action you can have fans jump on board and do a good deal of your work for you by sharing information with their friends and followers. You can do that several ways, some include running contests, creating incentives and offering unique one-on-one experiences.

If you’re having a screening or a premiere, starting at least four weeks out, give a special focus to that city. Give people a reason to show up apart from the screening itself. Will there be a red carpet event? Will there be cast members they can meet? Is there any kind of contest you can run that ties in with the event? For example, if applicable, the person wearing the best costume wins something, etc. Be creative. Have fun with it.

As mentioned, if your resources are limited, or you’re doing this on your own, don’t try to utilize every social media platform out there. You’ll end up doing a little of everything and accomplishing a lot of nothing.

Pick no more than four platforms. The top ones to consider are:

PR Campaign & Media Relations

If you’ve launched a PR campaign and are landing media coverage, share those links. Media separates you from the competition and makes your social media campaign all the more compelling. When you post an article or a TV appearance, you’re not the one talking about you, the media is – you’re the news. That gives you the validation and credibility to separate yourself from the others in the field.

Post cast and crew Vlogs to keep the sense of being a part of the project.

Make sure you’re on Wikipedia and IMBD.

Involve everyone. Make sure that anyone who is associated with the film jumps on your social media bandwagon and have them bring everyone they know on board. Assign someone the job of finding and sending you relevant tweets, blogs, links and news stories you can utilize in your campaign.

So, the top tips to keep in mind when marketing your film online are:

  1. Be selective in your social media outreach.
  2. Use your time wisely.
  3. Create compelling content. Reveal secrets, pull back the curtain.
  4. Be creative. Come up with catchy contests, or events
  5. Connect with your audience and fans. (Don’t simply talk at them; relate to them.)
  6. Be consistent. (Don’t simply post or reach out once a week.)

There is quite a lot here, but don’t let it intimidate you. As they say pick your battles. Don’t try to be everywhere online. You want to make sure you don’t get lost spending time and effort that end up yielding no results. So make a list of your primary objectives, your target audience, and the social media platforms that match your target market

Now, get started!

PR For Filmmakers

How to PR & Market Your Documentary Film

The operator with a videocameraYou’ finished your documentary film.  You’re exhausted but excited.  The long hours and hard work paid off.  You have a finished project you’re proud to show.

So, now what?

If you set up a plan to target distributors and market your film to the public, you’re ahead of the game.

Start implementing your plan and keep in mind it’s a living document and one that needs to be able to shift and modify as you move forward.

If you don’t have a plan in place, create one now.

There are quite a few different approaches you can take.  Your main objective is to build bridges between your film, the media, the public, distributors, influencers, you various target markets, etc.

To start you want to make sure you:

1 Have a website.  It doesn’t have to be elaborate, but does have to have a good clean look.  You want it to convey the message and the feel of your film.  You also want it to showcase you as a filmmaker.

2 Create a blog.  This can be a great way to connect with the public and create a following.  Document the making of your documentary.  Share your triumphs and your trials.  Be transparent.  Create a compelling narrative.

3 Develop a social media presence. You don’t need to be on every social media platform, but you do want to pick two or three and consistently update them.  If you’re launching a PR campaign, be sure and post and highlight any media coverage that you garner.

4 Launch a public relations outreach for both you and your film.  This is the strongest way to establish your brand.  PR offers you the validation and credibility of being featured in the media.  Target media that covers the issues your film raises, but don’t simply think in narrow terms.  Try to broaden your media bull’s-eye as much as possible.  Think of the various stories you can pitch that have to do with your film, your journey as a film maker, your filmmaking process, etc.  What stories can you pitch to the large mainstream publications, what stories can you pitch to blogs, entertainment-oriented media, and trades?  Are there newsletters that would be appropriate to target?  If possible bring a professional on board to work with you who knows the media, has the contacts and has experience successfully placing stories in the press. You might find it difficult to get the type of coverage you need trying it on your own.

5 Create an impactful trailer that you can use as a pitch tape and calling card for potential distributors.

6 Make a list of all of the venues where you could possibly show your film.  Be creative.  Start with the obvious and then drill down.  Could your film be shown at schools or colleges?  Is there a tie-in with charities or foundations?  Could it be shown in churches?

7 Submit your film to appropriate film festivals.  And make a list of festivals that could be worth attending even if your film will not be screening.  Do some research.  The can be opportunities to meet with distributors, buyers, investors, influencers, media, etc.

8 Arrange a private press screening of your film.  This doesn’t have to be elaborate, but if you can arrange to premiere your film and make that an event.  If you showing at a festival, you can make that your premiere.  Otherwise look at four-walling a small theatre.  You can invite the media, distributors, influencers, investors and your target market.  It can help create a buzz and build awareness of you and your film.

The bottom line is that there is quite a lot you can and should do to make sure your documentary is given every chance that it needs to be successful.

Start now!

PR For Filmmakers