Keys to building film festival audiences!

Film festivals need a lot of promotions & marketing to be successful!

Keys to building film festival audiences!

Keys to building film festival audiences! Film festivals need a lot of promotions & marketing to be successful!

Here are my favorite keys to building film festival audiences:

  • Email: Email is one of the most important marketing tools you have to promote your film festival. According to a recent McKinsey & Company study, email is still 40 times more effective at acquiring customers than Facebook and Twitter combined.The Austin Film Festival uses email for direct communication to their audience. They see most of their returns from dedicated email subscribers, and use an email marketing platform to compare and report email performance.
  • Social Media: Visual storytelling comes to us naturally. Humans process visuals faster than they process text. Considering our attention span is about 3.9 seconds long, presenting information as visuals just makes sense.
  1. Facebook and Twitter are the two most useful social media channels for growing your audience. Facebook is more conducive to marketing with information, whereas Twitter is best for shoutouts, retweets and community engagement.
  2. Instagram is good for brand building and photo sharing, but it’s still a relatively small platform.
  3. YouTube is great to post behind-the-scenes video content on festival events throughout the year to keep people engaged.
  4. Pinterest drives more traffic than Google+, YouTube & LinkedIn combined. Mainly, the site now attracts women in the age range 25-44 who love fashion, home decorating and family related products. As it gains more of a following, this is bound to change.
  • Sponsorships and Partnerships: Sponsorships can be a huge gateway to growing recognition and audience. Partnerships with institutions, brands, and businesses can bring additional value to your festival through in-kind donations and exposure. Getting businesses and influencers to back your festival where there’s a mutual exchange will build the momentum and your reputation. Use this social currency to expand your reach.
  • One-on-one promotions: We’re bombarded by messages every day. Community Engagement Committees are a great way to engage with people directly, and bring your value to them.
  • Press-kits: I’m a big fan of press-kits. They ensure that reporters, bloggers your audience and sponsors have what they need. Key to success is an easy-to-find contact link and phone number.
  • Off-line promotions: Don’t forget newspapers, flyers, flags, posters, presentations at community meetings and events, cross-promotions with other festivals, etc.

I’d love to hear your suggestions for building film festival audiences! If you’re interested in our CS&I Film Festival PR/Marketing Template? Contact


Why I love local newspapers

A close friend asked me if I had time to speak with an executive director of a nonprofit about media opportunities for an award they just won.

I was excited since it gave me an opportunity to discuss one of my favorite topics – the power of community newspapers.

When I first started working in nonprofit communications my targeted media list was full of local papers. They provide information on community issues and inspired a call to action in support of a healthy democracy.

It seems not too long ago newspapers were still thriving. Now, the landscape is really changing.

A recent report from the Pew Research Center – In Changing News Landscape, Even Television is Vulnerable tracks important media trends. They are well worth noting.

“The transformation of the nation’s news landscape has already taken a heavy toll on print news sources, particularly print newspapers. But there are now signs that television news—which so far has held onto its audience through the rise of the Internet—also is increasingly vulnerable, as it may be losing its hold on the next generation of news consumers.”

Jeff Domansky  wrote an interesting post on media trends effecting PR. I’ve highlighted a few below:

  • Digital news surpasses newspapers, radio: Percentage of Americans who saw news or news headlines on a social networking site doubled—from 9 percent to 19 percent—since 2010.
  • With young, newspapers lack relevance: 33 percent of those under 30 get their news via social networking sites, 34 percent from TV, and only 13 percent from newspapers.
  • Newspaper free fall continues: Just 23 percent of all those surveyed read a newspaper yesterday. That’s down by half (47 percent) since 2000.
  • Reading still popular: 51 percent enjoy reading though there is a shift to electronic or digital formats.
  • Digital growing: Of those who read a magazine yesterday, 9 percent read digitally, while 20 percent of those who read a book did so in electronic format.
  • Online news is more mobile, or social: 17 percent got news on mobile devices and 38 percent saw news on a social networking site, doubling from just 19 percent two years ago.

All that said, there are still thriving local newspapers. They play a significant role in community and are extremely important to nonprofits.

“In towns and cities where there is a strong sense of community, there is no more important institution than the local paper,” said Warren Buffett.

I still look to the local newspapers. I drill down to community news within the broader based newspapers. In many cases I discover an online and print version that increase readership and attention to my nonprofit clients.

So, I introduced Alexis Dalmat, executive director Culture Connect to The Champion Newspaper, a local newspaper focused on the greater DeKalb County Community. The Champion is now part of Alexis’ communications toolbox.

I would love to hear about your experiences with local newspapers.