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Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Shooting Yourself in the Foot

As I mentioned in a previous post, I come from a background in marketing.  I used to work with the media on a regular basis and used to pitch them stories weekly.  Moving into the digital age, communication became even easier.  Instead of calling and talking to someone, or putting together a professional press release to fax to the media, information could simply be emailed over, for immediate access.  And if that isn’t quick enough, social media gives us the means to announce breaking news as it happens.

But all of this seems to have come with a price. As we have moved away from real person-to-person interaction, our communication skills seem to have diminished. I have read several posts from reviewers and media representatives who are getting frustrated with web series creators.  Let’s take a moment and look at their concerns:

1.)    No informationIt is amazing what reviewers see; everything from the impassioned plea to the emails that contain just screen-shots of the show and downloads cross their desk.  It is also amazing to me how many of these folks forget to include basic information about their show.  The name of the show and the website at least should be EASY to find in your message.
2.)    Forget the attachments:  As one reviewer put it, they are an annoyance.  First of all, many people won’t open unsolicited attachments due to the risk of getting a virus, and secondly, if your series name and links to your site are buried in a pdf, they can’t be clicked, which is ultimately what you want.  Again, make it EASY for someone to access your info.
3.)    Remember you are pitching them your series.  There are thousands of others out there, so you are not entitled to a review.   Saying things like “Why haven’t you interviewed me yet?”, “When is it my turn?” “Check out my link, you should interview me,” or “Come interview us, we have an event tomorrow,”  (and yes, all of these are actual quotes) are not only unprofessional, but will definitely kill your shot at getting any positive feedback from the media.  
4.)    If they decide to say no to your series, or give you another answer that you don’t like, take it as creative criticism and move on.  DO NOT accuse them of being part of some massive conspiracy, or anything else.  (And yes, this has happened too.)  Remember, these folks work hard to support the indie film-making community, and should be treated with the utmost respect.

So what do you do when you are trying to get interest in your show?
1.)    Be professional.  Treat each letter, each pitch as if you were standing face to face with decision making studio executives.  Put your best foot forward.
2.)    Include all relevant information in the body of your email.  This includes show name, website and channel links and your contact information. (I think I mentioned it before…but make it EASY for them to find and follow you.)
3.)    Mind your manners.  We all were taught to say please and thank you when we were kids.  Why would anyone think those are not relevant when pitching a show for review.  You should always thank the reviewer for their time and consideration. 
4.)    Put some thought into your pitch.  I generally write mine, go do other things and then come back and re-read it later, so I am looking at it fresh.  We have had articles lifted straight from press releases I have sent out, because we included all of the relevant information, and wrote a well structured release.  Ask yourself if you were receiving it, would it get the desired response? 
5.)    I cannot say it enough, BE PROFESSIONAL.  If you want to be taken seriously, treat your series like your business. 

And remember, by sending out ill-prepared or unprofessional material, you are shooting yourself in the foot.  The number of web series out there vastly outnumbers reviewers for these shows.  It is extremely easy to pass on something for any reason.  Instead of giving a reason to pass, instead make it easy for them to say yes! 


  1. Also, become familiar with the format and culture of the publication you are submitting to. Demonstrate that you are a reader rather than simply praising them. Authenticity is a key on the Web, while arrogance is frequently the kiss of death. Think of the journal as a community member with a shared interest in the space.

  2. But what if there actually is a conspiracy against your web series? What are you supposed to do then? ;)

  3. LOL Wrong Guys! And if there is a conspiracy against your series, my hat's off to you. You have gotten someone's attention in a big way!

    1. And BTW Wrong Guys: I saw your show on Slebisodes, BRILLIANT JOB! We had discussed a choose-your-own type show and couldn't quite get our heads around successfully writing it, let alone executing it. Think what you created is awesome!


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