Preparing your publicity
You’re getting ready to publicise your event or project. What should you prepare?
Publicists Angela Radford, Kristina Hard and Sally Woodfield share their tips.
Angela: Make your information as easy and accessible to media as possible. Have a good media release (word perfect), any images they can use or photo opportunities arranged. Send links they can follow up and check and double check your interview schedule is watertight, with venues confirmed, journalists/reporters briefed, your talent (author) punctual (you would likely accompany them to interviews) and have a contingency plan. Allow time for short breaks and importantly, that your talent is fed and watered. Be available 24/7!
Kristina: Prepare photos, up to five different shots to use online and in print, prepare a detailed contact spreadsheet with all people’s mobiles, and email addresses, create a deadline at which point you need to have all people’s bios (paragraphs not CVs) and headshots. Prepare a press release. Prepare a spreadsheet of media outlets to pitch to, have clear deadlines and update this with results throughout your project.
Sally: Brainstorm all possible publicity angles and interview options. Get photos/images ready – you will need a selection of high resolution images. Remember that a great image can mean the difference between a listing and a feature.
Think of all possible configurations and don’t forget images of playwright/choreographer/composer as relevant. Make sure images match the angles you brainstormed. Ensure you have landscape and portrait options and don’t be too arty – images should be crisp, uncluttered, bright, but steer away from pure headshots.
Make it as easy as possible for media to be able to use your material. Look at the difference between marketing images and publicity images. Media will be looking for some action in a contextual setting. Get bios of all cast and relevant crew ready for sending to media. Write (or arrange to have written) a media release – keep it succinct and clear. Remember a media release is a starting point ... you don’t need to include every angle. Prepare additional background information – longer bios, Youtube links, audio or video clips etc.
- How far out from an event or project should you start preparing?
Angela: As far out as you can. Three to four months is ideal.
Kristina: ASAP! 6-8 weeks for me is suitable but ASAP! is preferable.
Sally: As soon as you have a season confirmed ... or even before! You should be thinking about and gathering publicity information as you are going about all stages of preparing your event. You will want to ensure your publicity is out there to tie in with ticket sales so you may need to consider providing information to media well ahead of time to tie in with deadlines.
- What should your hard-copy publicity include?
Angela: A good, solid overall written plan, leaving no stone unturned but room to move if an unexpected opportunity arises. Gather all the appropriate contacts for print (magazines and newspapers), radio, television and online media. Prepare a faultless media release (no typos, check your facts) to email them, then follow up by emailing or calling them to arrange a review, interview or whatever your key goals are in the promotion.
Kristina: National newspapers, community newspapers, magazines, alternative zines, street press...
Sally: I do very little hard copy publicity materials – it is expensive to produce and distribute and gets misplaced easily and not handed on. However if you are having a launch it is good to have a media pack for those attending and include media release; cd or usb with images, music and vision as relevant and promotional flyer/programme. For WOMAD, the last media kits I did were an A4 card folded to A5 with a CD attached with all the information needed. However, it still needed electronic back-up.
- What should your digital presence include?
Angela: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and blogs are now part of our everyday language and are important tools to reach all the markets available – web media cannot be ignored. Target all the online sites that are relevant, big and small (new sites are emerging all the time). Social media sites can promote a new title or event, including The Big Idea and Beattie’s Blog, with eventfinder being the most popular events listings site. There are a number of very good communications and digital websites run by experienced people and they can be contacted by simply searching online or by good old word of mouth if you know someone who has required these services.
Kristina: Entertainment websites, news websites, event websites, tourism websites, community websites, social media websites, independent blogs, TV clips, radio snippets...
Sally: Electronic media release embedded into message with background information attached as pdf files and links to Dropbox for images and vision. Watch the overall size of files – don’t send more than 2MB.
- What are some starting points for pitching a story to media?
Angela: Thorough knowledge of the project. In the case of authors and publishing, you need to ask questions and glean any important information from both author and publisher/editor or project manager. Use concise bullet points capturing the main points as they offer different angles the media can take.
Kristina: Find the unique point in your project. Find some people within the project who have unique stories and are comfortable with the media. Pretend you are a journalist, what would you write about?
Sally: Work out what angle you are pitching to what media and go from there. Keep media release generic, but you then can follow up with specific angles relevant to media.
- What’s the difference between preparing for traditional and digital media?
Angela: I don’t know if there are ‘rules’ but it’s best to ask what is required. Have a one-page media release ready, background information, key points, author photograph and any relevant online links you can give them to save them the research time.
Sally: Allow time for printing. Think about best way to present digital media – is it a media release with links to image dropboxes and footage. Remember media won’t open 5 separate attachments – make it easy.
- What’s a common mistake?
Angela: Not being prepared enough.
Kristina: Find out if someone is free to do an interview before pitching them to do one.
Sally: Lots of attachments
Sending media release as a PDF
Sending media releases at wrong times – Friday’s aren’t good for ‘soft’ stories (ie not hard news)
Files too large
- What’s your top tip for being prepared?
Angela: Know your project well. Talk to publisher/editor/author or the key people running the project and have all the relevant information to hand.
Kristina: Keep a close eye on print deadlines.
Sally: Know your show and what you’re ‘selling’.
Angela: Constantly researching what’s out there. There are communications websites offering some very good suggestions across the publishing, business and film and television industries with links, book suggestions and other resources.
Kristina: The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey is one of the most influential books EVER. Read this.