By Zeke Zelker, March 16th, 2010

What does it take to get your film noticed when you don’t have the money to spend on advertising? PRESS! Let’s face it, if people don’t know about your film, how will you make money on it?

Getting press for my projects has always been one of the key factors in the success of my films. I have never hired a PR person, but I have created an alias that does my press for me. Everyone in my office knows, if someone calls for James Charles or Garret Marks it’s press related. I don’t have a secret formula it’s as simple as: know who you are targeting, write a kick ass press release, make sure you are sending the release to the correct person, send it, follow up, ask, wait for it to hit, then thanking the person for writing about it.

Know who you are targeting. This is one of the key elements in creating a good press campaign. Think about all of the different things around your project. What is the story about? Think about ancillary articles that could be written about it. For InSearchOf we created stories about the subjects that our film hit upon. When we went to the Kinsey Institute to ask for support they told us that the film was too controversial for them to support. Too controversial for the Kinsey Institute?! Bingo, we have a story. Know what the publication likes to write about. If it is a business publication send off a release how you are making money selling t-shirts in stores with hang tags that with a free download of your movie, hmmm… If it’s a local publication, filmmaker does good. Catching my drift? For every film I think you should be able to create at least 5 different story ideas, if you can’t, don’t make it.

A kick ass press release should be a good read, to the point and invoke questions by the reporter. In today’s hyper information world,  writers want their jobs to be easy. Write a catchy headline, include contact information (you should have a PDF of your press kit online to direct them to), and try not to be over a page long.

Make sure you know who you are sending it to, get real names just not the features desk. Do your research and know what the reporter likes to write about. When calling about their contact info know a good article that they have written lately, mention it and prep them for your story. People love to be complimented!

Send it. I still fax press releases as well as e-mail them to the reporter and yes still mail press kits. Maybe I’m old fashioned but I have found that people like to have tangible assets in their possession. Make sure if you are sending off a press kit, that it is well designed.

Follow up and ask. Make sure you follow up with the reported the next day and ask them if they would be willing to write an article. Be personable, ask them if they need any more information. If it isn’t for them, thank them and hit them again in 2 months with another story idea based on your film. Perservernce is generally rewarded.

After the article comes out, follow up with a hand written thank you card. Who does that anymore? People will always do a little more for people who are thoughtful and mannerly. You hopefully will have a long film career and press people will help you achieve that.

ps.

The art of the spin. In my career I have had some really tough things happen to me, not just a couple, but a lot. I have always tried to figure out a way to make something negative turn out to be a positive. This is the art of the spin. Do not be discouraged if shit happens, let it fertilize your future.

ZZ

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Posted in audience biz event press

Zeke Zelker – an award winning filmmaker, blends art and commerce in all that he does. His latest film InSearchOf is not only creating buzz about the content of the story line but also for his business techniques. Always creating new revenue streams by blending traditional distribution outlets, adapting others to suit his film’s needs, and pioneering some of his own Zeke has been forging a pathway to profitability. He is currently developing on a transmedia project that will begin unraveling 2010.

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COMMENTS

  • Great post :)

    I would add that now days "Press" should also include bloggers, tweeters, etc. There are some cool free tools to help work out the most influential people/websites on your topic:

    * Start off with a Google search on the topic
    * Compare the google results on www.compete.com to determine which of these bloggers/sites get good the best traction...
    * look on www.alexa.com to check demographics etc are the right target market
    * these are online influencers to let know about the film

  • This is truly golden advice. The sad part is that many will read this, note there is work involved, and not take action.

  • Great post, Zeke! Some very good tips in there, that I never would've thought of. Thanks!

  • awesome post Zeke. great ideas.

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