Motion picture releases force actors, directors and writers to deal with the press more often than most business or political figures. Yet, those in filmmaking get taught about how to manage the press far less often than those in the political or Fortune 100 arenas. To help balance this affect, I decided to cover the basics of managing the press.
DON’T CONTROL THE PRESS: The press is made up of professionals and attention getting bloggers who use people skills to get human stories. No one likes to be controlled and the press is no different. It’s a people business that is all about promoting various levels of celebrities. The key to managing the press is to understand who is reputable and what audience they serve. Without this basic knowledge, you will send a message that has a high chance of being misquoted to the wrong people.
BUILD LONG TERM RELATIONSHIPS: Developing relationships with the right reporter, who attracts the right audience, empowers you to get a clean message to the right people. This ideal takes time to nurture, as both the filmmaker and the reporter need to develop trust in each other.
PACKAGE YOUR STORY FOR THE RIGHT REPORTER: Journalists and reporters are always interested in the right story, but much of their time is sorting through a myriad of stories that don’t fit their audience. For instance, a church sending Easter service information to a sports writer is a waste of everyone’s time. All too often press releases don’t get to the right editor or journalist because no one took time to research their ideal audience and who writes what they read.
DON’T GRAB FREE PRESS, PROVIDE FREE NEWS: Every newspaper and radio station knows that you want free press to promote your film, but no one wants to help you, unless they benefit from it. By providing the right reporter with the right content for the right audience, your story becomes news worthy. This makes the press look good, while you’re introducing your film to a new audience – Everyone wins.
KNOW WHAT’S ON AND OFF THE RECORD: Everything is on the record unless agreed to otherwise, and the tape recorder is turned off and the pencil set down. Giving background information isn’t typically quoted, but helps the reporter gain an understanding of the circumstances in order to build their story properly. With this all said, it’s important to understand that the person being interviewed must be careful in their responses to make sure the reporter doesn’t take anything out of context.
By managing the press with the above 5 keys, word about your film will get out to your primary audience, who will be inspired to support you with high ticket sales. They might even re-tweet your promotional information to help their friends.