PR tips continued

June 2, 2011
posted by sheric

Moving on…finding an angle. What’s an angle? A story idea that is unique. You should be able to come up with at least 5 story angles around your film. Are you distributing in an unique way? Did you use unusual or new equipment? Did you use established equipment in a totally new way? During the SXSW Festival, I pitched a story to Sony for their blog because Trevor Anderson used a Sony Webbie to shoot his film, a film that played Sundance, Toronto, AFI Fest and SXSW festivals. It’s a good testimonial piece for their camera and Sony covered it. You might think “well who cares if Sony enthusiasts read about his film,” but all the coverage counts toward overall interest. Sony equipment enthusiasts are more likely to care about art, photography, films and Trevor’s work encompasses all of that.

Other angles we used were 1)he’s from Edmonton, Canada so local and national publications covered his film’s appearance at Sundance; 2)the film covered a delicate topic sensitive to many Edmontonians and this sparked a ¬†small media debate; 3)his film received a broadcast distribution offer in the lead up to Sundance which is a little bit unusual for short films; 4)Trevor took part in many Canadian film professional labs and courses so we followed up with those organizations to tell them of his Sundance selection and of course they wanted to champion an alum;¬†5)when Moving Pictures put out a call for filmmakers taking part in Sundance to write about their inspirations, their experiences, their views on filmmaking, we took up the opportunity for more exposure for the film. Trevor wrote an inspirational piece on artist perseverance. It is about keeping your eyes open for story ideas where your film or your work can fit in, but isn’t for purely promotional purposes. Think like a journalist, not a sales person. You will still get what you want (exposure and sales), but the writer will also get what she wants (a good story).

Other story angle ideas:

-Is someone on your cast or crew doing something notable?

-Is there a current event, trending story or popular web meme somehow relevant to your film?

-Is the origin of your film’s story unique? Perhaps based on legend or a historical event.

-Is the topic or style of your film closely related to a better publicized Hollywood film and could you piggyback on those efforts?

It is also a good idea to use real time marketing when crafting any kind of content, whether it is for your own site or for a publication. Setting up Google Alerts helps you keep up with what is being covered so you can find new angles. Is there a court case getting a lot of media attention, has a natural disaster just happened, is there a new law being passed? Could any of this be tied to some part of the story of your film? Contact journalists covering those events and try to get interviewed about it. In this way, you are seen as a trusted source of information and they will mention your film within the context of the story. In the case of a documentary, this could be done years after the film’s release to bring attention back to your work. My friend Dawn Mikkelson had this happen years after her documentary Green, Green Water came out because the issue highlighted in her film came back up again in the media and a journalist contacted her for a quote. You can also use these events for your own blog content.

When you have identified 5 story angles, think of 5 bullet points of material that support that story and then craft your pitch to the journalist. Herold also advised pitching directly to the writer, not the editor and using the telephone to pitch rather than email. For bigger publications, I can see why he recommends that and often there is a listing of telephone numbers on their website, but for online only publications and smaller bloggers, you won’t find these contact details. Since email inboxes can be overflowing for journalists, the chances of your pitch being overlooked is high. This is why he recommended calling instead.

Next post.. understanding how journalists find stories and helping them decide to cover yours

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