Your film is nearly finished and now it’s time to get the word out. The traditional way is to prepare and release a film press release. Journalists still respond to a press release despite the way social media has influenced the way news works.

Now here’s the twist. In order to get coverage for your film, a journalist has to read it and then has to be intrigued enough in order to spend the time it takes to write about your film.

What if you strike out? It could be that you are the victim of circumstance, with your press release landing on the same day as a major news event. this happened to me in September 2008. I was in New York promoting a crowdfunding campaign due to launch on the 15th September. Guess what? That was the date of the Lehman Brothers crash. I remember walking up Madison Avenue mid day on the 15th and was perplexed by all the office workers pouring out of Lehman Bros with plastic boxes full of family photos. I rushed to my hotel, flicked on the news and sure enough – my worst fears were confirmed.

Even the perfect press release can land on the desk of a journalist too busy to read it. Journalist have lives too. They have families, and take holidays like everyone else. Because they are so busy, assume the best. Assume they will look at your film press release and publish it word for word. This means everything in your release needs to be letter perfect.

Why Your Film Press Release Sucks

If you are sending out your press release and failing to get any traction, it could be that you are ignoring one of these:

1.It sucks because: Too much information

New filmmakers often cram too much information into their first press release. They’ll write about their cast and crew, their world premiere, the launch of their website and a hundred other items. Journalists will simply be overwhelmed and roll their eyes around. Trying to pick out the key points in a press release is tiring.

Top Tip: Prioritise. Choose the key elements you want journalists to note, and send one press release for each event.

2.It sucks because: No visual references

We work in the film industry, right? We create moving images, right? Make sure you include a selection of stills and trailer. The stills need to be presented in easily accessible formats for web and print. And your film’s trailer needs to clearly show which censorship band it falls into.

Your trailer and photographs should be very genre specific. Here is a trailer for a film I produced. This is obviously NOT a rom-com!

Top Tip: Get a film sales agent to review you package before you send it out.

3.It sucks because: You’ve improperly structured your film press release

A good press release starts with a headline, a sub headline, body text and a “About you” paragraph. It should include clear contact details – both telephone and email in case the journalist wants to interview you. A good press release is short, sweet and one page max.

Top Tip: Revise. Edit. Revise. And edit again.

4.It sucks because: You’ve sent it to the wrong people

A journalist who writes about homes and gardens isn’t going to know what to do with a press release about your film. Just because their name pops up on soe internet search for journalists doesn’t mean they are film-related.

Top Tip: Money spent on a good film publicist is never wasted.

5.It sucks because: There’s no CTA

A CTA is marketing speak for Call To Action. There is no point in listing a series of accomplishments in your film press release if you don’t ask the reader to do something specific.

Top Tip: Ask the reader to do something: Visit your web page, announce an upcoming screening, or schedule in some pre-written social media messages for you.

6.It sucks because: There’s no strategy

Finishing your film and deciding how to best market your film actually starts BEFORE you start shooting your film. Make certain you have the right number of film production stills, a campaign image (poster) and a festival strategy.

Top Tip: Consult with a publicist and a film sales agent as soon as possible. Seek their advice about which festivals , distributors and journalists you should target.

Resources: 

How to write a press release
Press Kit Essentials

About 

Elliot Grove is the founder of Raindance Film Festival and the British Independent Film Awards. He has produced over 700 hundred short films and also five feature films, including the multi-award-winning The Living and the Dead in 2006, Deadly Virtues in 2013 and AMBER in 2017. He teaches screenwriting and producing in the UK, Europe, Asia and America.

Raindance trailer 2017

Elliot has written three books which have become industry standards: Raindance Writers’ Lab: Write + Sell the Hot Screenplay, now in its second edition, Raindance Producers’ Lab: Lo-To-No Budget Filmmaking and Beginning Filmmaking: 100 Easy Steps from Script to Screen (Professional Media Practice).

In 2009 he was awarded a PhD for services to film education.

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