The Academy Awards were held a couple of weeks ago, wrapping up an action-packed, never-boring awards season in Hollywood. And while there are many talented actors, actresses, and directors deserving of the gold statuette, there’s something else that’s equally deserving of accolades and attention: the PR that goes into promoting the films and creating the Oscar buzz.
Let’s take a closer look at this well-oiled PR machine and talk about what small business owners can learn and apply to their own businesses.
1. Begin teasing long before you launch. The biggest movies of the year release in the late fall and around Christmas. But the buzz begins long before that in the form of trailers, posters, ad inserts, magazine and television interviews, and social media. The public relations “drumbeat” is steady for months in advance of the release.
Takeaway for small businesses: if you plan on launching a product or service, make sure you map out your launch plan, a big chunk of which will be “pre-launch” activities that involve orchestrating that PR drumbeat we mentioned above. Read more about this in our post New Product Launch: How to Prep, Plan, and Implement a Sound Strategy.
2. Offer product samples. The buzz for movies often starts with the trailers—those previews people watch before the feature film. Essentially, a trailer is a product sample. Audience members are getting a “taste” of the film to see if they might be interested.
Takeaway for small businesses: No, we’re not suggesting you create a video trailer of your new product or service, but you probably can create a promotion where you send product samples to relevant journalists, bloggers, and influential members of your tribe.
While you might think this would only work with physical products, you could potentially come up with a tangible sample that reflects the essence of the new service.
For example, if you’re a software firm that’s launching a refreshing approach to online project management, you could send packs of spearmint gum to prospects and customers alike, along with a short note that teases your “refreshing” approach to the online project management problem. Include a link to a web page where people could sign up to be beta testers or early adopters of the product.
3. Make your stars accessible. It’s no accident when you see the same stars appearing on shows like Leno, Letterman, and Good Morning America, all within a short time span. These celebrities always have an agenda: to promote their new film (or TV show). The stars often have it written into their contracts that they have to make these appearances.
Takeaway for small businesses. Nothing frustrates the media more than celebrities who refuse to participate in press junkets. While your marquee stars can get away with the prima donna attitudes, the thought leaders in your small business cannot. Make sure these thought leaders are not only available to talk to reporters, but also prepared. Provide talking points. Conduct mock interviews for those who aren’t as comfortable answering questions in real time.
4. Take advantage of multimedia. Movie studios don’t simply release film trailers and call it a day. Their marketing and PR departments are the kings and queens of “Look! Shiny stuff!” They create interactive websites, regularly release video clips, post still shots from the set, share collateral (like posters), and…the list is endless.
Takeaway for small businesses. Building buzz involves a lot more than issuing a few teases on Facebook and Twitter and creating a web page for your new product. It’s all about splash—multimedia splash.
- Do a video interview with the brainchild behind the new product/service. What was the inspiration? What was the gestation period from the time someone came up with the idea to the time it was ready to ship?
- Document everything in pictures: meetings, production, sampling—everything…schedule them on social media.
- Invest in some fun promotional products that promote your new product or service. You’ll find lots of ideas on our website, and our customer service reps would also be happy to brainstorm with you.
Can you think of any other PR tips from Hollywood that small businesses should consider implementing? Share in the comments.