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    Holding a screening of a Tribe of Heart film can be a rewarding, life-changing experience, not just for audience members, but very often for those who hold the event.




 

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Your Event Part 3: Getting Publicity
Promoting Your Screening

Three Keys to Getting a Full House:  Publicity, Publicity, Publicity

The key to a successful screening is to cross-promote your event, ideally using all of the methods listed below. Each method will reinforce the other. Building an audience takes creativity, commitment, and hard work, but it can be fun and very rewarding.

Word of Mouth

This is the most powerful tool you have. Spread the word! Go tell it on the mountain! Tell everyone you know about the event -- that means every person that you and your team members come into contact with each day, in both the real and in the virtual world. Invite them to come, ask them to help spread the word to others (see Internet Outreach section for more ideas).

Have your core team members make phone calls to the groups and organizations you've identified for reaching out to. We recommend contacting the head of the group and telling them about the event and the film. Invite them to come, and ask for their help in spreading the word. If they’re not familiar with Tribe of Heart films, send them to our web site. Ask for their help. Some groups will commit to active involvement, become part of your core team, and give resources (it helps if you know someone there!) At a minimum, most groups will be willing to do one or more of the following:

- Put out flyers and handbills
- Send email announcements to members
- Post notices on their web sites, listservs, social media pages, meetups, blogs, etc.
- Place announcements in newsletters and bulletins
- Do a postcard mailing to members

Try to get everyone you talk to at these groups to use this as an opportunity to invite their friends, family and acquaintances who may not be familiar with these issues. Remind them that Tribe of Heart films have inspired thousands of people to make positive changes in their lives.

An apple for the teacher

Contact college professors, yoga instructors, cooking teachers, health coaches, and other community educators who might be willing to make announcements about the film in their classes. Give them stacks of handbills (see below) to distribute.



Flyers and Handbills

Two to three weeks before your screening, you should begin posting the flyers and distributing the handbills. Plaster the town! Then go back again once a week to replenish the stacks of handbills and to be sure the flyers are still up. A couple days before the event, make one more round -- this is the most critical time to have literature available, as a final push on top of your other publicity efforts, and as a reminder for those who make their plans at the last minute.

Pre-printed flyers and handbills can be purchased at theTribeshop. If you wish to print them yourself or at a local copy shop, these and other materials are available for free download here for Peaceable Kingdom: The Journey Home, and here for The Witness. Whether you purchase them preprinted or download and print your own, these materials can be easily customized with your event information (short videos show you how, here  and here ). See the sidebar for a list of suggestions for where to post flyers and leave stacks of handbills.

You will need more flyers and handbills than you think!

How many times have you picked up publicity materials for an interesting-looking event that you ended up not attending? In reality, not everyone who takes a handbill will come to your screening. For every 10 or 20 handbills you distribute, you might gain only one audience member at your event. But experience shows that the numbers do add up when you put your time and energy into getting the information out there in several different ways. Remember that flyers are periodically removed or covered over by other flyers, and need to be checked on and replaced every few days. In short, you will need many more flyers and handbills than you might imagine at first.

Even for a small event (20-50 people), we strongly recommend you print a minimum of 100 flyers and 400 handbills. For a mid-size to large screening (50-300), you will need as many as 400+ flyers and several thousand handbills. Does that seem like too much? Think of all the places they can go! Keep in mind that you will need to refresh the materials every few days (flyers last between two and seven days on bulletin boards).

One person called us disappointed because only 10 people showed up to her screening when she had expected 100. We discovered she had only printed 20 flyers. Had she printed 200, she might have had a different outcome. The posters and handbills reinforce the other kinds of promotion you do (i.e word of mouth, internet outreach, mailings and media). It is important that people SEE the posters and handbills everywhere. This will convey the message that it's a "happening" event.

Create a postering route for your community

There are so many places flyers and handbills can go (see right-hand column for some ideas). Identify teams of dedicated volunteers who are willing to take on a portion of the route and check it weekly. Make sure to give them clear instructions on where to go and how often.



Internet Outreach: Social Media, E-vites and Announcements

The internet offers one of the most effective and cheapest ways of spreading the word. E-invitations work great for publicizing your screening to individual people within your social network and that of your core team. Facebook invitations can be extremely effective, and regular posts about the screening will help you inform your online community, and also make it easy for your friends to share the info with their friends, expanding your publicity even further. Regular reminders on Twitter can also help build excitement leading up to the day of the event. Announcements sent by email list owners is another way to reach many different people. All these methods of outreach are designed to propagate themselves, because their message includes a request to ‘help spread the word… please forward to a friend.’ Everyone on your core team should be actively reaching out to every individual and group on their radar, through every medium available to them. This is also a great way to recruit more volunteers to help with the screening event.

Facebook allows you to set up an invitation for your screening event and begin inviting people from your list of friends. You can set it up so that those who see your invitation can also invite their friends. The RSVP ("Going") function on this invitation will give you a sense of how much excitement your Facebook publicity is generating. If the expected attendance keeps growing at a steady pace, your social media efforts are working! We have found that the full-house events we pulled off were preceded by a lot of excitement on the Facebook invitation, and that this method of publicity is very effective at giving you a sense of how well-attended your event will be. You can include a link to the Facebook invitation on any web announcements or other online publicity you are pursuing, so those who think they might attend can RSVP and also share the invitation with their own Facebook friends.

For e-invitations, there are free services such as evite.com, that make it both fun and easy to design and send out invitations by email. Have your core team members and volunteers start sending them out 3 weeks ahead of time. E-vites should be resent weekly as a reminder, with the last transmission happening 2-3 days before your event.

You will need to write up an announcement to help publicize your screening through other groups. When you have it, contact all the organizations who have agreed to help and ask them to send it out to their staff and members, as well as post the announcement on their web sites. Look to see if there are Meetup groups in your area focused on animal advocacy, veganism, vegetarianism, environmentalism, peace, and other aligned interests. Send the Meetup group organizer your announcement at least 2 weeks ahead of time, or longer if possible, and ask if they will consider organizing a Meetup to attend the screening.

Success with your publicity efforts requires enthusiasm, but discretion and good judgment are equally necessary. Please follow internet etiquette and refrain from sending email to people who don't know you or who haven't asked to be on your list. Also, it is a good idea to limit your email reminders to once a week or less. 


Letter to the Editor

Depending on the newspaper, and how much mail it receives each week, you might be able to get a letter to the editor published that will greatly help your publicity efforts. It is said that letters from readers are one of the most widely read sections of newspapers, so this opportunity should not be overlooked.

The purpose of the letter is to call people's attention to a special event that is happening in their community. It is very helpful to include in your letter some local angle about why people should see this film (eg: If there's a lot of agriculture or animal-realted industries in your area, point out the film's relevance. If there was recently a relevant animal-connected story in the headlines, point out that the film provides valuable insight into the human-animal relationship. If it's a college town or a community that's into the arts, point out that the film has been shown and won numerous awards at film festivals around the country and that this is a unique opportunity to see it locally, etc.) Be creative, and think about what will best pique the interest of the people in your community.

To increase your odds of having the letter printed, look for someone (or a group of people) in your community who is well known and respected and willing to sign the letter. If there is going to be a guest speaker at your event, be sure to mention that (as well as the refreshments!) And it's probably best to have just one really well written letter sent to the editor (possibly signed by a number of people), than several letters.

If your letter gets printed, let us know. We will be collecting these published letters to inspire and give ideas to others who are planning screenings.


Targeted Mailings using Pre-printed postcards

If you or the groups you are collaborating with opt to send out targeted postcard mailings, we recommend getting them into the mail at least three weeks before the event. {insert postcard video] You can purchase pre-printed postcards, which you can customize with your event's details on the back and send out. Alternatively, if you have the capabilities to design and print your own postcards in-house, you can work from this pdf.


Newsletters, Bulletins, Calendar Listings

Send a notice to the groups and organizations that have agreed to list the screening in their newsletters or bulletins. Make sure you know their deadlines for submission.

Identify the calendar listings in your area (print, radio, public TV, cable access TV, online) and keep track of their deadlines. Send them notices of your event.

Most radio stations, public TV and cable access TV stations air public service announcements (PSA's) for community events. Make a list of the stations in your area and their deadlines.


Paid Advertising

If you or the groups you are collaborating with have the resources to purchase advertising (radio and/or newspaper), be sure to consult with the radio station or newspaper advertising staff on timing, as they should have a good idea of what works best in your area. Give yourself enough time to reserve the ad. Weekly papers especially tend to need more than a week's advance notice.


MEDIA RELATIONS 101
How to get media coverage for your event

The purpose of contacting the media is to try to get a feature story, interview, or even a short article or blurb about your screening and the film. This kind of publicity is not only free, the exposure can be tremendously effective at building the audience for your event.

You will need to identify a person in your group who will contact the media. Ideally, it's someone who has done this before. If not, look for someone who is a skilled communicator and has great enthusiasm for the film.

Step 1: Create Your Media List

Take the time to create an up-to-date media list with contact names, phone numbers and email addresses. Media personnel frequently change jobs, so make sure your information is current. If you have a professional publicist as a team member or ally, you are really in luck because publicists and PR firms subscribe to specialized online databases that list the most current media contact information. Otherwise, you can usually find the information you need on the publication's web site -- look for staff listings or links that say "contact us."

While reporters write the stories, editors are the ones who decide which stories will run, so focus primarily on these decision-makers, such as feature editors, entertainment editors, news editors, food & lifestyle editors, etc. You may want to additionally reach out to specific reporters. If you happen to know any personally, by all means, ask for their help and advice. If you've noticed a reporter who writes sympathetically about animals, or who covers vegetarian/vegan issues, it is worth reaching out to that individual as well. Movie reviewers are also promising candidates. It can be helpful to personally invite these journalists to your screening, and if it's an event where admission will be charged, offer to reserve a pair of complimentary tickets in their name.

Step 2: Create and Send Your Press Release

Check out our press releases for Peaceable Kingdom: The Journey Home here, and for The Witness here, to get some ideas about what to emphasize in your own press release, and how to organize the information about your event. (Note: As stated in the screening guidelines, the word "premiere" or similar terms may not be used to describe a screening without express permission from Tribe of Heart). For maximum impact, come up with a headline or a context for introducing the screening that is uniquely suited to your community.

Most journalists prefer to receive press releases via email. You should send your press release in the body of the email, NOT as an attachment, and it should be of a reasonable length -- the longer it is, the less likely it will be read. Make sure the subject line of your email contains a phrase that will stand out, as well as the date of the screening, for example: "Jan 15 - Award-winning film about farmers transforming their relationship to animals" or "Ground-breaking film explores human-animal relationship, Feb 10."

Your initial release should ideally be sent out 3-4 weeks before your screening date, as journalists need time to develop a story. As it gets closer to the event, it becomes less likely that you will receive any in-depth coverage.

Step 3: Follow Up

Follow-up phone calls should be made within a day or two after sending the initial press release. Don’t wait! Think of your own email in-box… if you wait too long, your press release will be buried or deleted.

If you reach your contact and get engaged in dialogue, focus on the film being about the human-animal connection, and about the potential of people to transform their lives through the power of conscience and altruistic intentions. Believe in what you are doing! Journalists are looking for interesting stories and Tribe of Heart films are inspiring, powerful, award-winning documentaries that their viewers, readers, and listeners would truly enjoy and benefit from. If you are persistent, friendly and understanding of the deadline pressure that all journalists must deal with, you will have a better chance of getting media coverage.

Resend the press releases again as a reminder 10 days before the event and follow up again with phone calls. Resend them one more time 5 days before the event and follow up with phone calls.

Direct any interested members of the media to our web sites to learn more about the films. Let them know that the filmmakers and some of the film's subjects are available for an interview by phone or email, and that they should contact us if they are interested.





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Four-Part Guide to Holding a Screening

Part 1 of 4:
Before You Begin

Part 2 of 4:
Advance Planning

Part 3 of 4:
Promoting Your Screening

Part 4 of 4:
The Day of the Event


Event Timeline & Checklist


Additional Resources

Must-Read Screening Guidelines

Publicity/Screening Resources for PK

Publicity/Screening Resources for Witness

How to Hold a Post-Screening Discussion


Flyers video

FLYERS & HANDBILLS
Suggestions for Distribution

- Health Food Stores & Co-ops
- Farmers Markets
- Cafes & Coffee Shops
- Juice Bars
- Veg/Vegan Restaurants
- Vitamin Shops
- Animal Shelters/Humane Societies
- Vet Offices
- Pet Supply Stores
- Libraries
- Bookstores
- College Campuses
- Student Unions
- Yoga Centers
- Theaters
- Laundromats
- Fitness Centers & Gyms
- Retail Shops
- Animal-Friendly Businesses

One volunteer was able to get a health food store to toss a handbill into each customer's bag of groceries. Another asked a vegetarian restaurant to distribute a handbill with each check that was brought to the table at the end of the meal. These are the kind of creative ideas that help catch the attention of folks who would be interested if they only had the information placed into their hands. The handbills also work well as a personal invitation to your circle of friends, family and acquaintances.

After plastering the town, one volunteer who still had handbills left over decided to leave small stacks at ATM locations and on the counter in public wash rooms.

A student who was holding a screening at her university decided to slide a handbill under the door of every resident at her dormitory.

Handbills video


Go where the people are!

One extremely effective technique for reaching a lot of people in a short period of time is to show up at places where lots of people are gathered, for example at a farmers market; outside a rock concert or movie theater where people are standing in line; or at a community festival. Here, you can distribute a lot of handbills and engage people in dialogue about the film and screening event. One creative person used such an opportunity to show people a preview of the film on her iPhone!

This method of outreach can be especially effective if one of the team members handing out handbills wears "sandwich boards" with a poster of the film on the front, and details of the screening on the back. Posters for your sandwich boards can be ordered here.

Have any more suggestions? Let us know!



 

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