Tips for Pitching to the Press–From the Press

Last night, I was invited to be on a panel at The Railway Club that was sponsored by DOC BC. It was part of a series of discussions called DOC Talk, and this one was focused on Marketing and Publicity for Documentary. Besides me, there was another publicist, and then there were three members of the press: Maggie Langrick, Arts Editor at The Vancouver Sun, Ken Eisner, who writes movie reviews for The Straight, and Katherine Monk, who writes movie reviews for The Sun.

Photo by Lili Vieira De Carvalho. I'm pretty sure I'm twittering.

Every time someone from the press opened their mouths, I took rapid-fire notes, because I wanted to share with you what they had to say.

Q: How many pitches do you get on a daily basis?

Ken: Less that I could, under the circumstances.

Maggie: I get 200+ Emails a day.

Q: Do you only accept pitches from professional publicists?

Ken: No, but with a publicist, there is more of a feeling of obligation to look at it.

Maggie: No, but if  you don’t hire a publicist, make friends with one and get them to show you the ropes.

Q: What kind of a pitch gets your attention?

Ken: Be really personable. Give lots of lead time. I was recently contacted by a guy through facebook who said “I really like your work,” but in such a way that I could tell he had actually read my work. It’s okay to say to me “I need a little push.” Having said that, The Georgia Straight doesn’t review anything (outside of a film festival situation) unless it’s had 4 or more screenings. We don’t do one-offs.

Maggie: The Sun reviews all the major mainstream film releases. But on top of that, I’ll pretty much print anything Katherine gives me.

Katherine: I’m looking for something local with a national angle. When you’re pitching me, I really want to see something that I haven’t seen before.

Some additional pearls of wisdom:

Send a DVD of your screener. And don’t be precious with it. Cut the disclaimers. I don’t want to see a work in progress, you are competing in a world market. –Katherine

We like to have some online component with every story we publish, so if we are doing a story on you, send us your trailer via an FTP site so we can upload it along with your story. –Maggie

Short films? Sorry. Unless there is an Oscar buzz or it has a great backstory that I know is going to bring a tear to my reader’s eye, I won’t write about them. –Katherine

Twitter is a great tool. –Katherine

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Rebecca Coleman

Social Media Marketing Strategist, Blogger, Author, Teacher, Trainer. Passionate foodie, mom to Michael, fueled by Americanos. I love my bike. Soon-to-be cookbook author. Localvore with a wanderlust.

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