Guest post by Lynnaire MacDonald - publicist and founder of Film Sprites PR.
The information age is a truly remarkable time for creatives. We’re now in a moment in time where, in real-time, it’s possible to connect with people all over the world who genuinely love your work and want to support it. It also means that it’s a great time to grow your audience and achieve exposure for your work. Whether you’re a jewellery designer in Sydney or a filmmaker in Dubai, the world is your stage (literally or metaphorically). The downside is that the traditional forms of media, like newspapers and television, are also changing focus and that change has meant a drop in arts coverage. Recently in New Zealand (where I’m based), a newspaper conglomerate announced changes to the way it prioritises arts coverage…and it’s definitely not good news for artists.
So, what are the best ways to gain media attention for your work and grow your social media audience, and how can you do that without having to hire an expensive publicist? I’m giving you some quick and dirty tips for DIY publicity and social media marketing that you can implement today, at little or no cost. These are strategies I have implemented with my filmmaking clients at Film Sprites PR over the past 4 years, as well as strategies I have used successfully to grow my consultancy internationally. While I’ve worked primarily with filmmakers to create publicity and social media marketing strategies for their films, these tips are applicable to any area of creative endeavour.
1. I completely agree with Nathan at Follow Magazine with regards to social media being the single biggest factor enabling creatives to find an audience. Growing a social media audience and interacting with them on a regular basis means that when you have important events, like crowdfunding for a project or the opening of an exhibition people are more likely to respond positively and, more importantly, act upon your call to action by sharing/donating/purchasing.
2. What’s the best way to approach social media? Pick one or two platforms you would feel most comfortable working with on a regular basis. A lot of people choose Facebook as their default platform, but you might choose to use Twitter, Instagram or Tumblr. At Film Sprites PR we use Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram because those platforms are primarily where the audience for our filmmakers tend to ‘live’, and they are platforms that team members also felt comfortable using.
3. Having a mailing list on your website is a great idea, and it doesn’t have to be a dull affair. You can keep subscribers up to date with important dates (like screenings of your film, gig dates, exhibition openings), provide first looks at a trailer, an exclusive track from your latest music release, or rally them to support your crowdfunding campaign/Patreon page. If you’re doing a big social media push for an event, you can provide them with examples of tweets or facebook statuses they can copy and paste to help spread the signal.
4. Get to know the editorial calendars of publications (newspapers, magazines) if you are looking to have your work featured. In particular, if you want magazine coverage you will need to get in touch at least 3 months in advance. While this doesn’t automatically guarantee coverage, it’s a good idea.
5. Spam is a canned product- not a social media tactic! It’s never a good idea to just spam your followers (especially on Twitter) with a link to your event/film. Similarly, ditch the idea of automated direct messages when someone ‘likes’ or ‘follows’ you. Social media is a chance to connect with your audience in a really authentic way, so make every interaction a genuine one. Want to know other annoying social media habits to avoid? I wrote about them here.
6. Blogs and podcasts are fantastic ways to gain coverage of your work. Reach out to bloggers and podcasters who cover your genre (be it visual art, dance, film or fringe) to see if they will provide coverage. Do your research- what is it about your story that will appeal to their audience? Pitch story ideas, or inquire as to whether you can write a guest blog (or in the case of podcasts, appear on theirs).
7. Regardless of the medium you create in, it’s a good idea to set up an EPK (Electronic Press Kit). There are various ways to do this, and various contents you can include, but my recommendation of what to have in your EPK is:
- A press release in PDF form (if you’re unsure of what to have in a press release, Maria Korolov of Hypergrid Business has a fantastic guide)
- A selection of high-resolution images (images of your work, high-resolution photographs, promotional posters, etc)
- A 1-page biography in PDF form
- If you have videos available (a trailer of your film, a music video from your band, a short interview), these are also good to have but are not essential
Load these into a clearly labeled file on a file sharing service like Dropbox and you can share the link with people who want the information. It’s quick and easy and helps you to avoid the spam filter.
Publicity and social media marketing to raise awareness of your work and grow your audience doesn’t have to be hard- it’s all about working smarter, not harder and remembering that you have a unique voice and vision that makes our world a whole lot more interesting.
Film Sprites PR is a publicity and digital marketing consultancy for independent films. Since April 2014, Film Sprites PR has worked with filmmakers in the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand to provide publicity, social media marketing strategy and implementation, brand consultancy and crowdfunding campaign strategy and assistance. Film Sprites PR has worked with many filmmakers, including providing post-release publicity and social media marketing assistance for Night of the Templar, starring Paul Sampson, Norman Reedus, and David Carradine; as well as assisting with the Kickstarter campaign for Us Among the Stones, the second film from D.R. Hood. Hood’s first film, Wreckers, starred Benedict Cumberbatch, Claire Foy and Shaun Evans.