Learn To Be Your Own Publicist (5 tips and info on Toronto seminar May 29, 2010)

Do it yourself publicity seminar presented by Mooney on Theatre and Sweat Equity

I’m teaming up with the Shehori Brothers and the Second City training centre to present a one-day seminar on how to be your own publicist. Lots of details over here. And, check out the 5 tips for effective publicity at the bottom of the post.

One of the great benefits of this particular seminar is that you get both sides of the story. Guidance from the side of some very well respected publicists, and from the side of the media.

I’ve been asked what the difference is between publicity and marketing. Well, they’re related, I would actually say that publicity is kind of a part of marketing. It’s about getting media coverage of your project, not making ads and stuff. The reason publicity is so important is that being profiled in the media is way more valuable (and way cheaper) than buying ad space.

Being profiled in the media will also help your case if you’re applying for grants, or to work out of country, or even just as resume fodder. It’s a bit of work to get there, but it’s very worth it. Unfortunately, if you have to hire a publicist you’re likely going to have to pay $1000 at the very least (and anywhere up to $8000 or more depending on the project) per project. So, if you can get yourself the skills to do your own publicity you’re way ahead of the game.

The seminar gives you the information to do just that. It’s only $145(+GST) and is happening Saturday May 29 at the Second City Training Centre. I’d love to see you there, but just in case you can’t make it I thought I’d give you a quick start guide to publicity.

Megan’s Top 5 Tips for Effective Publicity

  • Relationships are key, build them. Actually, it’s a good general rule to follow in life. Be respectful, be courteous, and don’t write people off because you think they can’t give you what you want. Don’t ignore someone because they’re not working for the big daily newspaper, Kelly Nestruck was a reviewer at Torontoist before he was the reviewer at the Globe. If anyone snubbed him when he was writing online, I bet they’re kicking themselves now*.
  • Pay attention to details. Make sure you’ve checked the spelling, the dates, the address, all of it. Once you’ve checked for all of that, find someone else to check it, because if you’re anything like me, you’ve missed half of the mistakes.
  • Choose who you’re sending your release to carefully. It’s very important that you know a bit about a publication before you send something to it. You’re not doing your reputation a favour by sending stuff they wouldn’t be interested in at all. And, if you’re sending something to a big organization, make sure you’re sending it to the right editor/programmer etc. Just because you happen to have someone’s email address does not mean you have to use it.
  • Know your email etiquette. When you’re sending an email to a list of recipients, blind copy them. We don’t want to see everyone else that you sent it do. Also, some email servers filter out attachments, so make sure you have all the information in the body of the email, even if you’ve attached a PDF press release.
  • Get a website: It doesn’t have to be fancy, it just has to be a place where vital information can be found. Don’t have the time or money to design one? That’s fine, get a blog. I always recommend Blogger because it’s free and I find it pretty user friendly process, but I’m sure there are lots of other free user-friendly ones out there. You might think it sounds scary, but if you can use Word, you can build a blog on something like Blogger.

There are about a million more, and we’ll go into more detail about the ones above and lots more in the seminar, but I feel like these are a core foundation.

If you have any other publicity tips you’d like to share with folks, then please, put them in the comments. I’d love to hear what others have found most effective.

*Just to be clear, I randomly chose this to illustrate a point, I haven’t ever heard of anyone snubbing Mr. Nestruck when he wrote for the Torontoist, nor have I heard of him ever penalizing anyone for such a thing.

2 thoughts on “Learn To Be Your Own Publicist (5 tips and info on Toronto seminar May 29, 2010)”

  1. Good tips. I’d add that if and when you have a website make sure that you have contact information on it. Make that info easy to find and don’t mask your email address.

    You want people to get in touch with you, if the price to pay is some spam email, so be it.

  2. Another tip from a print magazine editor friend of mine:

    “Include a bloody photo! If I have two press releases and one has a photo, I will *always* run the one with a photo, even if the release itself isn’t as interesting. People like pictures.”

    While I do agree with this in principle, I would also add, know your audience. If you’re sending to a web-based publication you don’t need to have a huge high resolution picture attached that will clog up someone’s email box.

    My suggestion would be a web-friendly resolution (maybe 1000 pixels on the long end?) included, and then a link to an online gallery of images available at a high resolution.

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