Think of a film marketing campaign as a three-lane freeway.
In the fast lane, you have advertising. Quick to accelerate. Gets you to your audience fast.
In the next lane, digital and social, as well as licensing, promotions, and partnerships.
And in the third lane, you have publicity.
The slow lane. Publicity — or “earned media” — takes time, unlike the other lanes where dollars and deals can get you to where you want to go.
Here are five mistakes everyone makes (ourselves included) with publicity:
- Publicity is THE strategy. Not true. It’s a complementary strategy to the other lanes. Don’t think that a review or article, podcast, or a late-night show alone will move tickets or turn taps and clicks into sales.
- Publicity is EASY. Wrong. Patience and persistence — along with a great hook and good reputation — are must-haves for any publicity campaign.
- Publicity isn’t possible for SMALL films. That’s an excuse. Yes, it’s harder but a great idea, a unique approach, a focus on the right outlets at the right time can generate publicity for any project — big or small.
- Publicity only happens on RELEASE. Wrong again. A release date is the beginning of the campaign, not the end. Most press and certainly most audiences are just beginning to notice your campaign. Tell your story. Find new hooks and angles. Hack the news feed. The moment you are tired of telling your story is the moment people are just starting to hear it.
- Publicity is about awareness. Sort of, but not entirely. Publicity is about activating an audience — your particular audience — to take action that is meaningful to your success. Amplify your press stories on social, of course. Also, share them with film buyers. Send an original copy to investors. And make sure that every mention builds momentum toward your ultimate goals, whether that is social impact, future projects, or recouping for funders.
Good publicity is a great feeling because you’ve actually earned it. No one paid for it. Think about it: a person at a press outlet took the time to watch, to reflect, to research, and then to write about your film or show. That is incredible. Be thankful. Send them a note. But don’t sit back and think that a few press hits will get you to where you want to go. Make sure you have a comprehensive campaign that includes every strategy — advertising, social, digital, art, promotions, partnerships, licensing, merch, screenings, events … and publicity.
(c) Aspiration Entertainment, 2020