Monday, May 31, 2010

Guerrilla Marketing 101

This is a reprint of a very popular post from my now-defunct "eBay Movie Blog". The movie got finished but was never released. However, it was a great learning experience and I found lots of great info. I was in a meeting last week and someone asked who my press agent is - because they did a brilliant job on the movie. I answered that I'm my own press agent. Happy reading...

A lot of people have asked in the past week, how I managed to snag a half-page above-the-fold article in the Movie section of The Toronto Star. This is very expensive real estate, usually reserved for features on the latest Hollywood Studio offerings.

Here's the link for those who haven't seen it. Great coverage!

Do I have a cousin who works at The Star? No.
Did I bribe the reporter? C'mon! The guy just got back from a TV junket to L.A. What could I possibly offer that could compete with that?

So how did I do it? Simple. I made them want to run the story.
Listen up kids, 'cause here's how I did it...

First, the movie project was conceived to be "buzz worthy". I wanted people to talk about it.
The method of production, the content that I've chosen, the choice of narrator - everything right down to the title was designed from Day 1, to make people say, "What the Hell is this?" The idea of a guy making a movie from films found on eBay is akin to the guy who traded one red paperclip for a house in Saskatchewan. (Me? Personally, I'd rather have the paperclip.) It's a great 'people story' -- an underdog story. People (and especially news outlets) love underdog stories.

Getting in touch with the reporter was easy. In truth, it was Six Degrees of Seperation - I knew someone who knew him. But keep in mind that the media - and news especially - is a black hole that needs to be constantly fed. They're looking for a good story. There's a lot of crap out there, vying for their time - so if you can show the reporter that you're worth covering, you'll get the interview.

About that interview - What's that old Boy Scout motto? BE PREPARED. That means, make the reporter's job easier. The easier you make his job, the more he's going to like you - and the better coverage you'll get. I came to the first interview (there were two) armed with a fact sheet containing biographies (of myself, Fred and Glenn), some cool facts about the film and links to the blog and YouTube sites. This way, when the reporter wrote the story - or pitched it to his editor, he had all the facts on hand. I also gave him a CD containing about 25 good quality stills from the movie (plus the Fact Sheet in electronic format - make it easy for him, remember?).

Another thing about the fact sheet - I provided the information that I wanted him to have. You can't control what the reporter is going to write, but you can to a degree, steer him in that direction. I think the article was a huge success except that he didn't mention that we were working in High Def video and cutting on an Avid system. As it is, it implies that we're cutting the original 16mm footage in my basement - a little too 'low tech' for my taste. The info was in the fact sheet, but alas, the reporter didn't use it.

Now the sad fact is, usually a newspaper won't touch an article about an unfinished "Work in Progress" film with a ten-foot pole. Seriously, if it's not finished, why should anyone care? But because I have this blog (or website) and there are those videos on YouTube - they felt that there was enough interactive for people to click and see. Oh yeah - and the name didn't hurt either. Despite what my dear wife thinks, the name "PUBIC LICE: The Motion Picture" is actually working in my favor. (scratch-scratch Who'd have thought?)

So that's it. To recap - choose an interesting project. One that people will want to hear about. Make the reporter's job easy - provide him/her with facts, links and art. Guide the reporter to the story you would like told.

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