Friday, April 23, 2010

Publicity and Web Series

UPDATE: This is an old post and a lot of this info is out of date. Please use the contact page if you have any questions.

A few months back I did a post on the Dos and Don'ts on the Red Carpet and I think it is time to write a companion piece called Publicity and Web Series.  I am going to throw out a few guidelines that are specific to The Web Files, but I know there are new media journalists out there that are seeing some similar issues.  Liz Shannon Miller at NewTeeVee has posted some helpful guidelines for submitting your show to her for review, but what is pure comedy is the email she received this week.  It made me realize that it was time to write the post that has been formulating in my head for awhile.  

We all know that publicity is a key component to driving viewers to your show and keeping the buzz out there in the web series world.  I would imagine most of the Streamy-nominated shows have seen a nice lift in viewership over the last six weeks, you want to keep that momentum going.  How do you do it?  Here are some suggestions:

1. Festivals:  I have really started to pay attention to what is happening on the festival circuit from ITVFest to NY Television Festival to SXSW.   Take a look at the success stories from ITVFest 2009....Al Thompson with an deal, with distribution on The Frisky, Oz Girl's Streamy award (and more news to come), and Urban Wolf's distribution deal with Crackle.  It is thrilling to watch the success happen in less than a year's time.  The festival circuit is a great place to start to create some buzz, so head on over and submit your series.

**Update:  This category continues to grow and I want to make sure to get some of those higher profile festivals out there for you to check out:  iTVFest, NYTV Festival, AFI DigiFest, Comic Con, and Sundance's New Media Lab.  Good luck! **

2.  Networking Events:  There seems to be a new media event, launch party, red carpet, screening, or meet-up each week.  While we see a lot of the same faces over and over, it isn't a bad thing to stop in and hand out a business card or two if you are ready to launch your show.  In fact, we nabbed our first two interviews for The Web Files at Geek Out 2009 by meeting Tay Zonday of Chocolate Rain fame and Brett Register of The Crew.  Without them, we wouldn't have had such a successful start to The Web Files

3.  Reviews and Interviews:  Now some of you are lucky enough to have new media publicists who take care of all of your publicity needs.  There are some fantastic representatives out there who are working  hard to promote the heck out of your show.  I can name seven publicists off of the top of my head that we have worked with on a consistent basis.  If you can afford a publicist, go for it.  It is tremendously helpful and it takes a lot of the burden off of your plate. 
    However, I know the reality of budgets in the web space and you are probably doing the publicity at the same time you are producing, writing, and starring in your show.  So, how do you give your series that extra push?  I have already given you Liz Shannon Miller's tips for "How to Pitch Me Your Web Series".  Everyone needs to remember this word, "pitch".  You should pitch your show in an email the same exact way you would pitch your show in a meeting with distribution executives.  In fact, this should be excellent practice for all of the meetings you will be taking after your web series is a huge hit, an award winner, and it opens doors on even bigger platforms.  That is exactly how the pitch should be handled.
    So, while I DO want links to your reviews from Tubefilter and NewTeeVee, here's what I don't particularly enjoy:  
          -"Check out my link.  You should interview me."  
          -"Why haven't you interviewed me yet?" or "When is it my turn?"
          -"The Streamys are over, so let's sit down so you can cover my show."
          -"Come interview us. We have an event tomorrow."
Yes, these are all direct quotes.  So, you can see I am getting some unprofessional emails and it is a little surprising.  I certainly can't email the studio publicists and say, "It's time for The Web Files to interview your talent.  We will be there tomorrow."  I have to pitch my show and let them know why it would be beneficial for their shows to be interviewed by us.  I submit a formal email with links, a press release and talent bios.  I want them to see The Web Files as a professional media outlet, not some hack entertainment web series.  Please treat your show with the same respect whether you are dealing with a small show like ours or a huge network like E!  You spent so much time and effort on the creative side of the business, remember that once it is completed and you are dealing with publicity, monetization, or distribution, it is all business. 
     The other issue is contacting us a day before your event.  If pre-production took a month for you, it will be the same for us.  We have a crew to organize, a show to plan, and we have to make sure I am in town. (Easier said than done during my travel season.)  I love covering events, but some notice is appreciated and it is necessary for us to produce a quality show for you.  I want to make sure I have done my research on the talent and we want to have our core crew on hand. Trust me, they are GOOD, so a little calendar courtesy goes a long way in our world.  

4.  Press Releases:   A simple and free way to get the word about your show out there on the net.  PRLog just requires a short registration and it is a fantastic way to get the word out about your news of season premieres, finales, distribution, and events.  We have utilized this service quite a bit and we always see a lift off of the press release.

5.  Timing:  Yes, timing is important in terms of publicity.  Take it from the master, Felicia Day.  When she is writing The Guild, she puts herself in a media blackout creating more of a demand for her when she returns.  I am sure she wants to avoid the distraction, but it is a brilliant idea.  When your show is launching, ending, there is distribution news, casting news, or a red carpet event, that is when you want to hit the PR wire.  That is exactly when we want to interview you too. We want launch our episode with you because it is a win-win in terms of buzz and viewership.  In fact, the next six interviews we are shooting involve: a Streamy winner, a launch, distribution news, casting news, DVD release, and a new media event.  As they say, timing is everything.

6.  Patience:  I think Liz said it best, "Please be patient with me. I eventually watch everything I’m sent, but I only write one review a day and you web series creators have been freakin’ BUSY."  I know at The Web Files, we are doing our best to keep up with your emails.  We do have an official list and we banter back and forth as to why we should do a particular series now or later.  It is an ongoing discussion and it changes each month.  The best example of that is our interview with the series, Chick.  It had been on our list for a long time, but the timing felt right in early 2010.  I even wrote about the timing in my Behind the Scenes post for Chick.  The show did extremely well for us in terms of views and we received more emails about this show than any other episode so far in 2010.  Chick has a lot of heart and I think that resonated with many viewers, so I was thrilled we gave a smaller show a boost and we felt like we did it at the right time.  

Where can you hone your PR skills? Well, I know there are several new media workshops going on in the month of May with NewMedialocity and WebTV Workshop, or you can go back to the basics with UCLA's Extension program and sign up for PR 101. I am hoping the Web TV seminars address the publicity issue in depth because it will be beneficial to many content creators.

I hope this was helpful to you from a media perspective.  I would love to hear your comments on this topic because I know many of you will have even better suggestions from a creator's point of view.  So, let's get some dialogue started! 

To submit to The Web Files:  TalkToTheWebFiles at Gmail dot com
We look forward to learning more about your web series!

**Update** I received an email from a content creator accusing me of being part of the LA web series "bubble" and some unknown clique out here.  I have to take issue with this.  We do not have a travel budget for The Web Files right now.  If you know of someone that would like to sponsor us, we would gladly take you up on that offer and cover web series all over the country. 
   Please do not accuse me of not supporting web series.  I have worked hard along with everyone else at The Web Files for FREE since May of 2009. We want to tell your stories and we are doing the best we can on our limited resources.  We are happy to cover any web series that is visiting LA and we try to take advantage of that situation whenever we can make that interview happen.  So, please keep me in the loop of your travels, especially if you are coming in for Digital Hollywood or itvfest.  Off my soapbox.  :) kb

PS.  I must be doing something right if I got my first piece of hate mail.  Yay!


  1. Good advice; I've helped people write press releases. So many don't realize that short, polite and include a good graphic is the goal (at least from the get published in a newspaper angle). It's so easy for an editor or reporter to find a reason to skip over your release in the flood of organizations and individuals eager for coverage.

    I must admit I became a little festival shy while trying to land a short film in one. The amount of places that want you to submit your short and pay an entry fee is overwhelming. I have had a couple of good experiences landing a short and a trailer but mainly the film festival circuit seems a money mill for festival organizers. I haven't looked into festivals that might be interested in web series yet. I've just started mulling the where to find the Blink Kitty Love audience question.

    Helpful hint: if you want to get your local newspaper/media to cover you, it's useful to send a press release to the Business page or editor as well as the Entertainment/Arts team. It might be easier to find your way to the top of the pile.

  2. Thanks, Michelle. I think you make a great point about local media and newspapers. We sometimes overlook the great resources right under our noses. It's also smart that you pointed out the business page versus just the Arts/Entertainment page. Thinking outside the box is often the best strategy for PR.

  3. To the person who sent the email,
    Are you daft in the head? KB, Sandra et all have highlighted the work of more independent shows than any other media outlet, including the most excellent website <a href="http:/>Web Series Today</a>, shameless plug.
    If you have a show and are seeking publicity, why not load up the truck and head down to LA for a weekend. Schedule it for a time when there is an event, arrange for an interview with the Web.Files crew ahead of time, plan a visit to the Tubefilter offices. Yes, I realize that might seem like a major inconvenience, but so is expecting a small independently produced show like the Web Files to fly around the world accommodating you.

  4. Great post -- need to re-evaluate my PR procedures and make sure I'm not committing any "no-no"s.
    Regarding the out-of-town complaint. This comes up all the time, regarding PR coverage, Streamy consideration or anything else.
    What people tend to forget is that it's no coincidence that the L.A. filmmakers live in L.A. We (almost) all decided to give up our lives as we knew them -- friends, family, jobs, etc. -- in some distant part of the country to come to L.A. and pursue our passion. No-one is stopping others from coming to L.A. and doing the same.
    But that's just my two cents :-)

  5. Thanks for the support, Mathieas. I will also say that Mathieas is doing a great job out there promoting our community and he is doing it outside of LA. He was one of The Web Files early supporters and so, please return the love and bookmark his site. (

    Finally, I heard back from emailer and he suggested doing interviews via Skype. Not a bad suggestion and one we have thought of. However, if you watch the Oprah Show, you know she has a deal with Skype and the production quality of those interviews on a jumbo screen is not that great. So, to maintain the production integrity of our show, we have put that idea on hold for now.

    So, if anyone has any direct contacts at an airline or hotel, email me. Let's get The Web Files on the road. I have web series in Texas, Pennsylvania, and New York that I want to interview. :)

  6. Justin--Just make sure you have solid PR materials. I think that is what Liz and I are both speaking about. She dislikes attachments, I don't mind them so much. So, you won't be able to please everyone all of the time, but a strong pitch will carry you a long way.

    You also make a good point about location. LA is the center of the action. However, we are seeing other make a splash outside of Hollywood and they are doing it well because they know their pitch.....Nick Carlton, Blake Calhoun, and Christopher Preksta (with the highly anticipated Mercury Men)are great examples. So,I think the emailer needs to take a closer look at what he is doing PR-wise and revamp his approach.

  7. Just a quick thanks for reaching out to the Web Series community with this Kristyn.

    Always looking for ways to grow our audience!

  8. Thanks for stopping by, Michael. I think I will continue to add notes to the festival section. A few more names keep popping up including AFI Digifest, Sundance's New Media Lab, and Comic Con. So many opportunities for a creator to get their show out there!

  9. This was a great article! Very helpful and organized! Thanks!

    Kristen Ruhlin

  10. Thanks, Kristen. I will be doing a follow-up soon. There's always more to add!

  11. Hi, Kristyn: Great tips! I'm putting together a formal press kit now and we've had good success with PRLog. But I wanted to contact you right away since you mentioned a "road trip" and said you might be in PA? Could you travel a little further south to the DC area and visit us at "The R.I.P. Files"? Here's our link on Mingle Media: When you know your schedule, give me a shout and we might be able to arrange for you to come along on one of our paranormal investigations. We guarantee a frightfully good time! As an alternative, the team might make it out to L.A. next spring and we could get together then. Keep us in mind and I wish you all the best. Thanks! Pat

  12. Hi Patricia! We currently do not have a travel budget for The Web Files. Until we have a sponsor, keep me posted on your West Coast travels. Thanks for reading. You can always contact me by hitting the "Contact" tab at the top of this page. :)


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