Reaching film critics: Yes, you Cannes

This is a guest post from Liam Donoghue, Manager of Print Media at Cision.

In a world where journalists crave more than just the basics…

Just when you thought it was safe to blast critics with another press release…

From the producers of that last press release you just received…

We all know film critics can be harsh at times, but that doesn’t mean they’re unreachable for PR professionals. In addition to the names we all recognize (Peter Travers, Roger Ebert, etc.), there are scores of influential bloggers and journalists trying to keep up on the latest movie openings and film festival screenings. [In the wake of last week’s Cannes Film Festival, see the recent Cision Influencer List in CisionPoint for our top 100 film critics.]

Phil Morehart, a writer for Chicago Journal and Skyline and sponsored ambassador of Seek or Shout, prefers the traditional press release and film one-sheet. He also likes getting “screeners,” or advance copies of movies. “What critic doesn’t like getting screeners?” Morehart said. The advance copy is not necessary, however, if the press release is designed well both editorially and visually. After all, the majority of major movie releases are already known to most critics.

“If a PR agent wants to work the film market,” Morehart suggested, “he/she needs to be a film scholar in addition to a great pitch person. Film critics want to work with folks who can walk the walk and talk the talk, not simply regurgitate selling points.”

Nell Minow, a freelancer and movie critic with the website Beliefnet, explains that — beyond a simple summary of the movie, what celebrities are attached to the project, and when it opens — PR professionals can give her an extra leg up to gain coverage on her blog. “I like material that makes it easy for me to give my readers something that will catch their eyes and captivate their interest, and something that no one else can give them but me,” she said.

She’s had DVD and plush animal giveaways; recently she had much success with Journey 2 activity books. In addition to giveaways, Minow also seeks that extra bit of backstage access.

“I especially love to talk to the people behind the scenes,” Minow said. “The writers, directors, costume designers, soundtrack composers, etc. — the ones you don’t hear from as often who always have something interesting to say.”

Both Morehart and Minow are users of Seek or Shout, Cision’s new social community site.

“Seek or Shout has been particularly helpful for me in regards to researching stories,” Morehart said. “I’ve received invaluable feedback on my own stories and connected with PR folks from all arts backgrounds. Love. It.”



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