Case Study: Managing Unit Publicity and PR Campaign for the 2017 Crazy8s Film Event

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THE CHALLENGE

As unit publicist for the Crazy8s Film Event, developing the PR campaign for the film event as well as managing the publicity for all 6 winning teams during production, on set and during post production meant that I had educate the media that this was a film event, not a film festival. Being a film event meant that the top 6 winning teams won THE RIGHT to have their films produced and edited in 8 days with in-kind sponsorship donations in the form of cash and equipment, rather than submitting finished films to win awards.

The teams were:

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CypherA coming of age hip hop story about a Korean American teenager who finds a platform to confront the pain of his past in LA’s underground hip hop scene following the 1992 riots.

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Anh Hung-a story of how sibling bonds are forever changed when a young girl discovers the truth of her family’s (and her older brother’s) activities outside the law.

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The Prince-a young dancer and her uncle, an actor, struggle with their identity as Middle Eastern Canadians following a violent confrontation on public transit.

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No Reservations-a satirical take on pipelines where the roles of the homeowners and the oil/gas company executives are reversed.

Undertaker’s Son– A young man in an 1880s Western town is forced to confront some long buried feelings about family when he joins his father for his first day of work as a undertaker for the family business.

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WoodMan-A man made of wood befriends a woman online and comes to realize how some of the lies he’s been telling himself has kept him trapped for years.

Additionally, I was also responsible for working with the teams to develop the official press kits that properly reflected their experiences and positioned the proper ‘story hooks’ for each of the 6 films to mainstream and online local and international media. With this year’s group of films focused on subjects outside popular genres such as horror, LGBT, romance and straight up comedy, developing the PR campaign was less about pitching to genre-specific media and more about doing research into each media outlet and what the types of films the journalists/bloggers/podcasters usually reviewed and scheduled interviews for.

THE SOLUTION

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After conducting extensive research into key media outlets and influencers and the topics they covered, I focused on pitching all 6 teams based on 3 parameters:

  • The hooks/subject matter/genre of each film
  • The background/experience of the director/producer teams (ie. whether they’d won awards, notable projects they’d worked on)
  • The ages of the director/producer teams (as some media outlets skewed more towards audiences between the ages of 20-35)

Following these parameters, I pitched all 6 teams to select podcasts and blogs in Vancouver, New York, Toronto and Seattle along with local radio stations and newspapers. Over the course of the six weeks, I followed up with key media outlets through both email and conversations via social media and continue to pitch each film based on topics of interest. I also worked with the Vancouver Sun to set up an official production blog for all teams to blog about their experiences with Crazy8s and share their journeys from writing the scripts to location scouting and casting.

RESULTS

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Through story pitching and social media campaign management, I secured national and international press coverage for all 6 film teams and the film event including but not limited to: radio stations such as Roundhouse Radio and Co-op Radio in Vancouver, broadcast media outlets such as CBC Vancouver, Novus TV and Vancouver TV, podcast media such as Endeavours Radio and print media outlets such as The Georgia Straight.

National and international outlets include Under the Noise Podcast (New York), About to Review (Seattle), Never Sleeps Network (Toronto) and Short Film Fan (Toronto)

 

 

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Top Eight Inspirational Ad Campaigns

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As a marketing communications professional, my first exposure to the world of advertising, public relations and social media was actually through a Nike campaign some 20 years ago. This particular campaign inspired me, pushed me to be better and forced me, even at a young age, to keep going even in the face of failure. Maybe it’s also partially responsible for my brand loyalty to Nike all these years.

Years later, the message behind this campaign continues to inspire me and it’s a message that I reach for when times are tough, when I get low and there doesn’t seem to be a way out. It inspires me so much that I even analyzed it in an academic paper.  As a professional storyteller for clients in film, food and tourism, helping them translate their stories for an array of mediums (whether it’s in PR, social media or a blog/print piece); I’ve always felt that a narrative doesn’t have to be long in order to be inspirational. Ad campaigns can go beyond selling something to actually make you feel something and messages also doesn’t have to come from a book, a film or a TV series in order be real, raw and realistic.

Without further ado, I’m going to share some of the most inspirational ad campaigns that have pushed me to be better and continue to fight through adversity and move forward in the face of failure.

1.Nike-“Failure” (1997)

Though far from the first Michael Jordan led Nike campaign I’d seen growing up, it was definitely the first of many Nike campaigns that struck a chord with me. As he’s walking into the Chicago Bulls locker room, one of the greatest basketball players of all time ruminates on all the times he’d messed up, missed a shot or the games he’s lost-and how it forces him to continue to push himself to be better. If there was one message that I continue to carry with me from this campaign, is that failure isn’t the end and that you can-and should-use it to as motivation to learn from your mistakes and move forward. Still a campaign I return 20-some odd years later whenever things are tough and I need inspiration.

2. Nike-“Maybe It’s My Fault” (2008)

Another Michael Jordan campaign that forces you to stand up and pay attention; this was the campaign formed the basis of the academic paper I mentioned earlier. With Michael providing the voiceover, the ad cycles through several significant locations and areas from his life, from his old gym and the locker room at UNC, to the trophies and accolades in the Chicago Bulls locker room. In the voiceover, the man himself talks about how peoples’ misconceptions about his career and his skill set allowed them to make excuses for themselves. At the end of the ad, he forces them to stand up and listen and to stop using him as an excuse for why they can’t play the game of basketball. The message here is simple: just because he was able to do what he was able to do doesn’t mean you can’t do the same. Stop putting him up on a pedestal that you can never reach and start working hard to get to where you want to go.

3. Converse-“Love Letter to Basketball” (2007)

Less of a campaign and more of a personal reflection that inspired a campaign for Converse, this was the video I remember showing a co-worker (herself a basketball player who had to stop playing due to chronic injuries) 7 years ago; which reduced her into a flood of tears. Written by the amazingly talented Dwyane Wade (one of the best currently active players in the NBA today) while he was still endorsed by Converse, it’s an inspirational piece about the struggles any athlete faces in the sport they love. When you struggle with something you love, it can be disheartening, it can beat you down, wear you out and cause you to want to give up. It’s a powerful letter filled with hope that things can get better if you persevere in what you love and don’t allow the cycle of negativity to suck you under.

4. Nike-“Together” (2014)

Are you perhaps sensing a theme in the types of campaigns I find inspirational? Even as a non-Cleveland Cavaliers fan and a casual fan of LeBron James, this campaign continues to cause me to choke up every time I see it. Why? It’s like the tagline says “This time it’s bigger than basketball,” and it was. This campaign was rallying battle cry for the city of Cleveland and it showed. This shared community, this shared love for sport brought out the loyalty, the love and the best out of the citizens of Cleveland. Say what you want about LeBron’s career, his attitude regarding some aspects of celebrity and the controversial move he made to leave Cleveland in the first place, but the man is a leader-and one who is great at rallying people around him.  And the payoff of this? Cleveland won their first-ever NBA championship two seasons later. I’d say the tears LeBron shed were well warranted.

5.Smarties-“Duets” (2008)

An interesting campaign that doesn’t show its hand on what product they’re promoting until the very end, this older Smarties campaign features several Canadian singers in a duet with one another in several different locations from a church and skate park to a city bus. Each pair features a singer with another musician playing an instrument, whether it’s a beatboxer, guitarist or saxophonist. Each one sings a variation of lyrics off of Sly and the Family Stone’s “Everyday People”, substituting the colors for occupations before ending with a flourish on the line “I am everyday people.” While this wasn’t a well-known Smarties campaign around the world or even in Canada at the time, there’s something about seeing people from all different cultures and ethnic backgrounds, singing the lyrics of a song that promotes inclusiveness and acceptance of diversity, especially in the face of today’s many issues surrounding racism and prejudice.

6. Chrysler-“Imported From Detroit (Super Bowl 2011)

While not a huge car fan by any means, this campaign during the Super Bowl in 2011 caught my eye because of the underlying implications. At the time, Detroit was still reeling from the 2008 recession, hit incredibly hard economically with houses foreclosing left, right and center and several auto makers had to be bailed out by the US government. Eminem, Detroit’s prodigal son, was also experiencing a major comeback in his career, having released the great album Recovery, a few months previously. What this campaign symbolizes to me is the revitalization of Detroit, the auto industry and indeed, Eminem’s career. It’s that blue-collar work ethic and the refusal to ever give up that really stands out in this campaign. The use of Eminem’s ‘Lose Yourself’ was the perfect soundtrack to illustrate what Detroit and what Eminem is made of.

7. Nike-“Fate- Leave Nothing” (2008)

Directed by the legendary David Fincher, this is by far my favorite NFL football campaign. He focuses on the life-long journeys of pro football players, LaDainian Tomlinson of the San Diego Chargers and future Hall of Famer Troy Polamalu of the Pittsburgh Steelers as they collide in an NFL season game. In the campaign, you see how both players grew up, got involved with basketball and then football and how they trained for both sports. As the two collide on the field, the message is clear: give it your all, no matter what you choose to do and leave nothing on the table. If you leave it all out there, you’ll have no regrets, no matter what the result of everything you’ve worked towards.

8.Nike-“Let Your Game Speak” (2006)

I thought I’d close off the list with one last Michael Jordan campaign. Unlike the other ad campaigns featured on this list, this one contains no dialogue whatsoever. Instead, this campaign shows several basketball players making slick slam dunks and gorgeous shots on courts all over the world. College kids in tournaments, high school students in the gym, even students halfway across the world in China execute great plays on the basketball court. The ad ends with a basket being sunk due to a great shot from a young Chicago native during the Chi Classic while Michael Jordan stands, proudly watching the next generation-with the words ‘Let Your Game Speak’ going across the screen. Simple, but poignant, it tells you that sometimes, words are necessary to have make an impact. Sometimes, all you need is to let your skills speak for themselves.

That’s my list of ad campaigns that inspire me and push me to do better, move forward and continue fighting. Know any more that I should watch? Let me know!

In the meantime, here’s my list of go-to songs, books & movies that help me beat writer’s block.

Top 10 Unique Ways to Promote Films & TV Shows

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Deadpool Billboard Campaign

Starting a marketing campaign for a new movie or TV show isn’t an exact science but there are a couple of crucial elements that shouldn’t be forgotten. 1. Timing is EVERYTHING when it comes to any promotional campaign for movies & TV. You have to build up an incredible amount of hype in a tight time frame leading up to and during the launch of the film/TV show.  2. TV shows & movies are content goldmines-filled with awesome images, storylines & characters that will give you a huge edge when building an upcoming TV or film launch.

So how do you get started on marketing for a film and/or a TV show? Here are top 10 unique strategies, tips & creative ideas for an exceptional marketing campaign for your next movie or TV show.

 

  1. Create Something Memorable With A Publicity Event

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In his popular best-selling book Purple Cow, renowned marketing guru Seth Godin (& one of my biggest inspirations of all time) makes a comment about how in order to be remarkable, you must include something worth noticing into your product, service or campaign. In other words, to get people talking about your campaign-and have it go viral-you have to DO something worth talking about.

Word of mouth is by far the most powerful form of marketing and in some ways, it can be the most memorable. The more people talk about your campaign, the more viral marketing works for you.

To help launch the film in the UK and celebrate the Year of the Sheep for Chinese New Year, Shaun the Sheep starred in two charity art trails in London and Bristol with larger than life sculptures of the famous sheep raising funds for children’s hospitals in the UK.

When Matt Groening & Co decided to finally bring The Simpsons to the big screen, they converted several 7-Elevens across the US and even in Canada into Kwik-E-Marts selling items like Squishees and donuts & propelled their publicity campaign into legendary status almost overnight. Do something remarkable.

 

  1. Pre-Roll Video Advertising

What’s pre-roll advertising? In a nutshell, it’s a short teaser trailer that will appear before related YouTube videos or IMDB videos that has a call-to-action at the end of the clip. Entice viewers to click through to the website to watch the full trailer, enter their email to win tickets or play a social game about the movie. It’s a great way to make your teaser trailer memorable.

 

  1. Open Up Your Press Events

BERLIN, GERMANY - APRIL 29: (L-R) Actors Simon Pegg, Zoe Saldana, Zachary Quinto, director J.J. Abrams, actors Chris Pine and Alice Eve attend the 'Star Trek Into Darkness' Press Conference at Hotel Adlon on April 29, 2013 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images for Paramount Pictures) *** Local Caption *** Simon Pegg; Zoe Saldana; Zachary Quinto; J.J. Abrams; Chris Pine; Alice Eve

This one might seem like a no brainer, but you’d be surprised at how many people still continue to rely on mainstream media outlets & critics for their coverage. But by opening up your press event to influential bloggers and fans, or better yet, having several smaller press events in different regions, there is HUGE potential to have your film/TV show gain viral coverage & you could also run a contest in conjunction with the event to have fans enter to meet the cast.

 

  1. Allow Your Audience to Experience The Story

To help promote Christopher Nolan’s 2009 mind-bending action thriller Inception, Warner Brothers created a virtual game ‘Mind Crime’ playing on the movie’s tagline “your mind is the scene of the crime” and allowing users to develop their own dream worlds/mazes & move within them.

The virtual game allowed users to not only build and move within their own dream landscapes and even introduced the repercussions of having a mind’s defences attack you-just like the characters in the film experience. The game also integrated the ability for you to share your progress via Facebook, play mazes created by other fans & compete with each other on the leader board, helping to spread the word about the movie virally.

 

  1. Make Viewers A Part of the Film

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In the 15 months leading up to the launch of second film in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy; Warner Brothers created a 360° immersive experience recruiting over 11 million people in 75 countries to become citizens of Gotham. These fans fueled the rise of the Joker as henchmen, campaigned for Harvey Dent to get elected as District Attorney, and even took the law into their own hands by becoming copycat Batman vigilantes. From calling phone numbers written in the sky to hunting down GPS coordinates to find mobile phones baked inside of birthday cakes, “Why So Serious?” generated an enormous amount of buzz for the film.

 

  1. Use More Niche Social Media Platforms Such as Periscope, Pinterest & Instagram

Even though Facebook & Twitter is most certainly at the heart of most social media strategy, that doesn’t mean you should avoid smaller platforms like Periscope, Instagram & Pinterest. You can still create some really innovative marketing campaigns, but the trick is knowing how to use them.

The annual Toronto Silent Film Festival (TSFF) has used Instagram in some ingenious ways in its annual campaign to help promote the festival. They’ve used the platform to previously create flip book trailers of all the films and a time machine timeline celebrating the career of the great Charlie Chaplin.

For 2015, they turned their entire Instagram account into a portal that allows viewers to ‘choose their own’ silent film adventure. Each 15-second video offers viewers a choice on the journey they want to take.

 

  1. Use Social Contests & Quizzes

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While this idea isn’t exactly new, it never fails to drum up buzz and it’s a good balance of low risk and high reward. As long as you get the reward right, people will definitely want to share the quiz with their friends.

It also never hurts to offer a large incentive for people to invite their friends to join, such as giving them 5 more contest entries for each friend they invite and 5 more if that friend actually takes the quiz.

BONUS: If you use tools like WooBox or Wildfire to build your quiz or contest, they have this function built it.

 

  1. Persona Marketing

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Every movie and TV show undoubtedly has a character that fans love (or love to hate) and many a campaign has very intelligently played on the audience’s love/hate for the character by creating a persona for the character via social media.

The character of Dr. Sheldon Cooper from The Big Band Theory is a great example. With just over 525,000 fans on Twitter, every single of Sheldon’s quips has the potential to reach thousands of fans, generating hundreds of re-tweets, favorites & comments. It’s great free marketing for the show.

 

  1. IMDB Listings & Advertising

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With millions of people daily looking for information on new TV shows & movies to watch, it’s vital to get your TV show or movie listed on IMDB ASAP.

Be as comprehensive as possible when you fill out the listing for your project. IMDB is a search engine driven by relevance & popularity so the more info you have on your listing; the increase in likelihood that people will find your TV show or film.

 

  1. Utilizing Memes & Other UGC Content

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Memes are a great way to leverage your audience’s creativity to build content that’s highly shareable that subtly promotes your movie or TV show. The benefits of memes are that they are incredibly customizable, easy to share and take literally no time to produce.

A Google search of “Game of Thrones” memes returned over 2.5 million results.  You can also put together caption contests and fan art as user generated content to leverage your audience’s creativity and collective sharing power.

 

Want more publicity ideas for your next TV show or movie? Stay tuned for our upcoming post on the Top 6 Most Badass Publicity Campaigns of all time!

 

Why Publicity Matters Part 2: What a Unit Publicist Can Do For You

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If you read Part 1 of our Why Publicity Matters series, you would’ve received some tips on why publicity is a vital part of any marketing plan for your film or TV show and how you can step up your game.

Now that you’ve gotten an overview of how publicity can help, it’s time to focus on how a unit publicist can help you manage publicity. Producers may do marketing for their films but they often avoid paying for unit publicity. But that’s a critical mistake because it’s a vital component to effectively deliver a movie when it’s sold to a distributor.

When it comes to publicity, you can’t take it all on yourself. Here’s the top 9 reasons on how a unit publicist can help you maximize press coverage for your project.

  1. A Producer ≠ Publicist

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Out of a desire to keep to a budget, a producer may often take on the role of the unit publicist by taking on the social media strategy or scrambling around like mad to gather assets together in preparation for a film festival.

Don’t put your producers through that; let them focus on the production. A unit publicist can help you coordinate the photographer, organize set events and interviews, grab quotes, develop the press kit & monitor social media. Without a dedicated unit publicist, productions simply don’t have the time, resources or knowledge to manage it the way it should be done.

  1. A Unit Publicist Manages Your Assets

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Coordinating a film festival is about more than managing the red carpet. It’s also about making sure all the ‘deliverables’ make it to the studio after wrap. These deliverable assets include approved red carpet photos, behind-the-scenes videos and interviews and full press packages that includes production notes and cast/crew biographies. So who’s qualified to do this for you? It should be someone who knows every frame of your film because they’ve lived through it with you. On larger projects, you’ll need a unit publicist to organize behind-the-scenes footage for marketing, entertain VIPs and conduct set tours to get them excited about the project

  1. A Unit Publicist Crafts Your Image From the Beginning

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Having a unit publicist work on crafting the image of the film from the beginning means that anything you hand to a distributor, a festival or the press, reflects the film in the way you want it to be reflected. From the posters and videos to websites and social media, you can have your material positioned & ready EXACTLY the way you want, ready to hand over to key people.

  1. A Unit Publicist Works Hand in Hand with the Production Stills Photographer

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When you’re working with a stills photographer, his or her focus should be on photography: capturing, editing and uploading the best images. You shouldn’t have to worry about whether a photographer also has the expertise and experience in dealing with producers, talent agents, or studios in order to get the perfect shot. This is where the photographer and unit publicist working together as a close team can open doors. The UP will know which shots are priorities because he or she knows what will be important in later marketing efforts and will make sure the photographer gets the perfect shots.

  1. A Unit Publicist Can Help You Jumpstart Your Social Media Presence
Viral Film campaign for The Dark Knight

Viral Film campaign for The Dark Knight

Even if you’ve already set up the social media profiles yourself, a publicist can help you prep profile photos, develop an outreach schedule and manage social media assets on set. Behind-the-scenes teasers are becoming more and more popular and being able to offer them to your social media fan base is a huge plus. This means you have an audience in place and ready to go when you go to your first festival or get picked up for distribution.

  1. Unit Publicists Keep the Production Secure

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Unit publicists field any and all inquiries from the press, fans, local community organizations, film commissions etc. Due to his/her relationships with the studio, crew & cast, there is little chance any misinformation could be leaked. Whether you’ve got 15 international journalists making their way to the set to interview eight actors or if the studio is requesting a special photo shoot on the first day of filming, these are the kind of things that a unit publicist has the expertise to gracefully juggle, ensuring that all visitors walk away with exactly the impression you want to convey. Plus with daily access to the production, the unit publicist is able to share interesting stories with any press or VIPs during or following production.

  1. Unit Publicists Are Invaluable In a Crisis

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If a crisis incident arises during filming, you’ll need a unit publicist you can count on to field the phone calls and issue statements. When a studio is involved, the unit publicist is the liaison between the studio and the set, informing them of crisis incidents and press requests particularly when shooting is on a distant location.

  1. Unit Publicists Have Valuable Intel

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Production notes written by a unit publicist that’s been on set the entire time serves quite a few purposes. The information is often picked up by the media, whether it’s for a story about the production or a profile on the director. It’s also the unit publicist’s job to make sure the information is being offered to the right media outlets—the ones that speak directly to the specific audience the filmmakers want to reach. A unit publicist will work to foster those positive relationships during the production.

  1. A Unit Publicist Can Save You $$ in the Long Run

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Unit publicists attach assets such as a cover story, magazine spread, or a segment on national broadcast that can mean millions of dollars in media impressions and increase the value and profile of a film. Ultimately this can help save you money in the long run because a unit publicist can work with a photographer to get that special shot on set easily where it would cost a marketing department thousands of dollars to try and recreate it.

Need more info on how unit publicists can help you market your films and TV shows? Keep it glued here for our post on how a Publicist Can Help You Find an Agent!

Why Publicity Matters & How to Step Up Your Film Publicity Part 1

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When you have a new film project, web or TV series or a short and you want to share it with people, what do you do? You talk about it with friends and family and you create a presence on social media via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and possibly a few others like Periscope, complete with photos and/or video, making sure, of course, to tag the right people. Right? Of course you do.

But here’s what you might not realize: there’s more to sharing your story and receiving some promotional publicity than putting photos and video up on social media. It’s the quality of what you choose to share.

Of course, I’m not talking about blurry or dark photos-it’d be common sense not to post those. To cover key pivotal moments, you need really good photography. When you think about how great images shape film posters, billboards & websites-it doesn’t seem so far-fetched to have some professional publicity as a long term investment towards a film’s future.

But there’s more that professional publicity can help with than amazing photos & videos. Here’s 3 major reasons why professional publicity matters & how it can help you step up your game in promoting a film or TV show.

Publicity Isn’t Just About Knowing What to Share

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Having a publicist to help promote your project isn’t just about knowing what to share and how to share it. It’s also about knowing when to share a piece of news. Maybe you have an awesome teaser trailer or some behind-the-scenes B roll that hasn’t quite cleared the editing stage or a concept for a film poster but not the final image. Sometimes holding things back can benefit your project in the long run and save you time and energy when it comes to the editing stage -and that’s where having an expert publicist in your corner to schedule things can help.

Publicists Have Valuable Relationships With Journalists

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Any publicist who knows what they’re doing is bound to have existing positive and influential relationships with journalists. Through these connections, publicists are able to pitch your film/TV show in a way that you wouldn’t be able to (at least, not without spending a lot of time, energy & your own money) and based on that prior experience and knowledge, they know HOW to present your project to a journalist.

These relationships are invaluable and having a professional publicist who knows journalists and talks to them daily-is vital.

Publicity Generates Buzz BEFORE a Film’s Finished

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Remember what I said earlier regarding the fact that publicity is sometimes about holding things back? Well, that doesn’t mean that you hold everything back until the film’s finished.

To create an extensive and successful publicity campaign, you need to start early during pre-production and get the jump on having a presence on IMDB as well as creating a plan/schedule for possible publicity events. You should also start early when it comes to getting together teasers of the publicity materials (ie. footage, posters etc.) when you get them.

Want more info on how to step up your game in promoting your film or TV show? Stay tuned for Why Publicity Matters Part 2: Why You Need a Unit Publicist and my upcoming post on Top 10 Best Ways to Promote Films & TV Shows.

How A Film PR Campaign Made an Actor’s First Time at TIFF a Success

Actor Peter Dacunha with Dean Norris at the Remember premiere, TIFF 2015

Actor Peter Dacunha with Dean Norris at the Remember premiere, TIFF 2015

My first time ever doing PR for an actor was a definitive eye opener and a great professional challenge to get as much press coverage off-and on- the red carpet ASAP during the two weeks of the Toronto International Film Festival in 2015. To make the challenge even more intriguing, Peter Dacunha had TWO films premiering at TIFF, the drama Remember, directed by talented Egyptian-Canadian director Atom Egoyan and the horror film Hellions.

 

We had a limited window for press coverage so after interviewing Peter and learning more about the roles he played in both Remember and Hellions. I identified a list of influential mainstream and horror media outlets and pitched Peter and both films to them, getting coverage from national outlets like CP24 and horror media outlets like the Ginger Nuts of Horror. Check out a few of the resulting national and international coverage pieces here and make sure to read my case study! You can see the photos from the red carpet premieres of Remember and Hellions at TIFF 2015 below as well.

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How a Film PR Campaign Elevated Black Land to the Top 5

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One of the best film projects I’ve had the privilege of developing a strategic PR campaign for continues to be the horror film Black Land. Over a three week period, pitching the PR release I created resulted in press coverage from over 14 different mainstream and online horror media outlets from Canada, the US and the UK.

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Promotional image for Black Land

Black Land is a Canadian horror film on how a simple environmental assessment became a horrifying fight for survival, directed by Vancouver-based director Shaine Jones. At the beginning of the 2015 Cinecoup Film Accelerator, Black Land was competing against 99 other films for the grand prize of $1 million and the chance to be developed as a feature film by completing mission milestones each week and garnering votes from the general public

I developed a press campaign and identified a list of influential indie and horror media outlets from all over the world, reaching out to them for press coverage and interviews to help boost Black Land’s visibility among horror fans and general film audiences.

Check out some of the press coverage here from a few awesome horror media outlets & make sure to check out my case studies!

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Discovering Iceland: How They’re Revolutionizing Tech

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A view of the Reykjavik skyline from the observation deck of the Perlan.

On a recent trip to Iceland, I had the opportunity of a lifetime to explore the city of Reykjavik and the rest of the country and learn about their culture. This is part one of a blog series that I’m developing featuring tidbits of my vacation to Iceland and insights into some of the things I’d learned about their lifestyle, industry and history.

Part one will feature insights into Iceland’s tech industry with the upcoming parts 2 and 3 focusing on interesting and fun tidbits of the country’s history and lifestyle.

Stepping Into Reykjavik

The stunning glass architecture of the iconic Harpa Conference Center.

The stunning glass architecture of the iconic Harpa Conference Center.

Before I landed in Reykjavik, I had vague notions of what to expect in the capital city and in Iceland in general. I had an idea of what to expect regarding their food, landmarks I wanted to see and of course, geothermal pools I wanted to soak in. But I didn’t know much about their tech industry.

It was a definite eye opener to see how Iceland has started to become a hot bed for industries such as virtual reality gaming, special effects and home grown start-ups.

International Tech in Iceland

Microsoft office in Iceland.

Microsoft office in Iceland.

Walking down the Shore and Sculpture path en route to the iconic Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Centre along the harbour in downtown Reykjavik, I was definitely surprised to see the Microsoft logo emblazoned on a building.

I didn’t think Iceland had a population large enough to sustain a corporate office for Microsoft, yet there they were. Based on some research, it looks like the Reykjavik office has their own division that manages product marketing for office products and deals with legal affairs surrounding customer data protection in Europe. Near as I could tell, it doesn’t seem like the Iceland office has a software development division, but it was still a welcome surprise to see that the Seattle based tech giant made the leap.

A Hotbed for VR Video Games and Special Effects

Sculpture commemorating EVE Online from CCP Games

Sculpture commemorating EVE Online from CCP Games

Iceland actually has a sculpture dedicated to a video game. That’s right, the sculpture in the above photo is dedicated to EVE Online, one of the world’s biggest and popular MMORPGs (massive multi-player online roleplaying games) developed by video game powerhouse CCP Games. Not only can you participate in different forms of combat from player versus player to player versus environment in the game, but you can also take up several occupations from mining and manufacturing to exploring and trading.

CCP Games is also a pioneer in virtual reality gaming in Iceland with more than one of their titles. Gunjack, a virtual reality arcade shooter was released for the Samsung Gear VR in 2015 and the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive in 2016 and EVE: Valkyrie, a first person space combat simulator was released for the Oculus Rift, Playstation VR and HTC Vive in 2016. But they’re not the only gaming company in Reykjavik developing virtual reality titles.

Gaming startup Sólfar Studios specializes purely in VR games with several titles such as Everest VR and Godling available exclusively on VR platforms such as Oculus Rift, Playstation VR and HTC Vive.

Reykjavik’s harbor district is also an up and coming area for special effects in film and television. Local company RVX, founded in 2008, has provided VFX supervision for the Harry Potter film franchise, Hollywood blockbusters such as 2 Guns and Contraband and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.

Home Grown Icelandic Start Ups in Tech, Tourism & Beyond

Cottages in Iceland

Cottages in Iceland

Other start-ups outside of video games and VFX effects have started up in Iceland as well, thanks in part to the annual Startup Iceland tech conference.

I discovered Bungalo, a great accommodation site that allows travelers to find local cottages where hotels, hostels and bed & breakfasts are harder to come by. It’s Iceland’s largest cottage marketplace with accommodations all over the country. Although we didn’t go with them this time, I definitely think it might be worth trying to book through them for our next Iceland trip.

A success story in the hospitality industry, Blendin isn’t just another app that gives users information like the times bars and clubs are open. Nominated for Nordic start up of the years in 2014, it even connects friendship groups together in one go, eliminating the need to create separate event invites on Facebook.

On the tech side, Activity Stream is developing operational intelligence software. The software monitors a company’s operations and uses artificial intelligence to improve daily operations and customer support.

This vacation was an eye opener when it came to learning about Iceland’s tech and gaming industry. But that’s not the only thing I learned about Iceland. Next up, fun, interesting and thought provoking facts that I learned about Icelandic history in Part 2 of Discovering Iceland.

Essential tips for traveling with kids

family-camping-food-menu

It’s been many a month since I last posted on this blog. Projects for clients and other companies took precedence, but I’ve learned a lot along the way that I hope to share with you soon. Here’s hoping for more bigger and better marketing, social media and business posts filled with insightful advice-due to arrive ASAP!

In the meantime, here’s a reblog of the post that I wrote for MEC on traveling with kids. For parents looking to make family trips a little easier, enjoy!

Whether you’re planning a long road trip, a fall camping vacation or a first-time visit to a different city, travelling with kids is a great opportunity to build some family memories. But as any parent knows, things can get a little crazy when you add little travellers to the mix. Use this list of tips to keep everyone (adults included) happy and your trip running smoothly.

Choose lightweight luggage

When you’re travelling with kids, it’s important to make sure that you have enough lightweight compact storage to keep their clothes, toys and snacks in order. Look for bags that can pack away when you’re not using them to save space, like the Travel Light Duffle. It has plenty of room and can fold into its own pocket to stash during or away after your trip.

Even the littlest explorer wants a bit of independence from mom and dad. Equip your kids with their own small daysack that has room for a toy, snack and water bottle, so that they can stay hydrated, happy and feeling grown up (and you have one less thing to carry). The Littlelife Animal Daysack comes in neat shapes for kids that like nature. Find out what other features to look for when you’re choosing a kids’ backpack.

Pack portable fun

board-game

When you’re traveling for hours – whether it’s a long drive to your campsite or an international flight to see new cities – keep the kids entertained with a portable game that won’t drain any batteries or need a power outlet. They’ll be too busy having fun to ask the dreaded, “Are we there yet?”

Layer up

It’s good to be prepared for anything the weather might bring – and this is where layering comes in handy. Layer a fleece jacket under your kid’s water-resistant outer shell to keep them warm and dry if it starts to drizzle, or just use the fleece jacket for cool nights. Some ideas? The Yeti Hooded Jacket or the Cocoon Reversible Jacket.

Don’t forget about yourself either – it’s important for you to be comfortable when you’re wrangling the family from point A to B. The waterproof-breathable Alpine Ally Jacket has deep pockets that gives parents quick access to essential items like bug spray. It’s also super lightweight, which allows for easy movement when you’re chasing after kids or tucking them into their sleeping bags.

Let the Kids Be the Chefs

camping_party_trail_mix_6

Build a mobile pantry with all the fixings for trail mix in separate food containers, so that everyone can create their own combinations. You can also let the kids create a fun dessert like s’mores – they’ll like camping that much more when they have a say into what’s on the menu.

Pack cutlery and bowls that don’t have sharp edges, are small enough to be held by little hands and can easily flatten to save room, so that you can call on help from the whole family to make clean up that much quicker.

Give Them the Chance to Explore

explorer-kid

One of the best reasons to bring kids on a road trip is so they can explore nature in new places, which means mud, dirt, leaves and puddles. Look for waterproof boots made with parents in mind, like these Stonz Rain Bootz – they’re easy to pull on and off as the weather changes. That means you can let your little ones wander (within reason!) through the woods, without worrying about wet feet.

Prep for naptime

When you’re on a hike and the kids get tired, give your arms a break and strap them into a comfortable carrier. They’ll be off their feet and shielded from the rain, giving them an opportunity to rest up for the next fun activity.

Bring the first aid kit

Scrapes and bruises are bound to happen when you’re travelling with kids. Keep the first aid kit on hand to help bandage any minor bumps quickly so you can get back to enjoying your vacation as soon as possible.

These simple tips will help you keep everyone happy on your next family vacation. By prepping ahead of time, you’ll have a memorable trip with the kids that’ll have you planning your next vacation as soon as you get home.

Original Blog Post

Day 7-Using Social Media to Leverage Your Wedding Planning-Creating Your Wedding Soundtrack

wedding music

When you’re planning a soundtrack for your wedding, there are three aspects you have to keep in mind: what kind of music do you and your future spouse like, what kind of music do you know that your guests love to dance to and MOST IMPORTANTLY, how do you incorporate both types of music to create a playlist that you AND your guests can have fun dancing to all night long?

If your tastes in music are anything like mine, you’d know in advance that NOT ALL the music that you enjoy listening to is music that you can dance to and there’s a chance that your guests may not agree with your music choices. Not only that, you may not agree with your guests’ musical choices either. How do you avoid a sticky situation where no one enjoys the music and they don’t want to dance?

Do your research into the songs that you enjoy, surely there must be a few rock, rap, pop or alternative songs that people could at least slow dance to. Then create a playlist with some of your favorites as well as some dance-worthy music that you don’t find cringe worthy. Personally, I’m a huge fan of Usher (mostly early 2000’s), old-school Boyz II Men and some Kanye West that could be considered dance-worthy.

So, what’s the easiest way to create your own playlist and have a guest or family member manage your wedding soundtrack for you? I’ve got top 5 of the best apps and websites for creating and managing your wedding soundtrack and getting you the kind of music you want for your reception.

1) Spotify

music-for-every-moment-spotify
Why It’s Awesome: After you download the app (for an iPod), make a playlist using your Spotify premium account OR make one from any account and subscribe to it later using a mobile device that’s logged into the premium account. Set the playlist so that it’s available offline on the mobile device of your choosing. If you’re using a iPod Touch, you need wi-fi long enough to “download” the playlist. Spotify lets you download temporary files to your iPod which last 30 days, at which point you’ll lose access and have to log back in and re-download. Test your setup wherever you plan to have the ceremony, preferably with some of the same songs you’ll be using to see how they sound and how loud they should be.

2) MyWeddingDJ

MyWeddingDJ
Why It’s Awesome: Great for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, you can play songs and playlists that are already on your iTunes! It helps you create a Music Plan using your songs and playlists, suggests parts of your wedding you need music for, there are no awkward silences as it fades gracefully for all pauses and stops and crossfades between songs and when you skip a track. It prevents accidental skipping or pausing, takes requests, waits between each song or playlist.

3) Gig Masters

Gig_Masters
Why It’s Awesome: You can literally find any form of entertainment that will play any kind of music you like. From jazz and bluegrass bands to violin soloists, singers and DJs, you can find entertainment to fit your wedding music needs. You can even hire world bands who play Caribbean music, a Beatles tribute band and other entertainers as well such as impersonators, magicians and clowns. It’s definitely the go-to website to hire all kinds of musical and other entertainment.

4) Last.FM

Last.FM
Why It’s Awesome: You can search for all kinds of artists and play their albums for a fee through the Android and iPhone apps, listen to the radio, create playlists and it even has personalized radio stations based on music and playlists you’ve previously created. They have full albums available for all kinds of artists from Incubus to Imagine Dragons, Daft Punk to Kanye West.

5) Djay for iPad

Djay_for_iPad
Why It’s Awesome: For the budding DJ, djay gives you instant access to all your existing songs and playlists on your iPad. Browse your entire music library and easily play, mix, and scratch your favorite songs as an iPad DJ. In Automix mode, djay mixes your favorite iPod playlists with seamless DJ-style transitions. You can customize Automix to your liking by adjusting various transition options such as style, duration, shuffle, and auto-sync. djay’s sophisticated on-the-fly song analysis calculates the beats per minute (BPM) and exact location of each beat, laying the groundwork for a host of other features including Auto-Sync and beat-synchronized scratching. djay’s advanced audio wave form display gives you an overview of a song’s structure and allows you to visually cue to specific points to prepare the prefect transition. Auto-Cut Scratching automatically applies the rhythmic pattern of the currently playing song to your scratches in real-time. Simply touch and move the record with two fingers to create stunning effects and go beyond the possibilities of the analog world.

What makes these websites the best for creating an awesome soundtrack for your wedding? Well, it goes beyond just having a playlist and it incorporates everything from DJs to live bands and all genres of music that fits absolutely every wedding.

With the right tools and websites to help you expand and incorporate your wedding soundtrack, what’s next on the wedding planning agenda? How about planning the perfect honeymoon?

Keep your eyes peeled and stay tuned for your BONUS post on ‘How Social Media Can Help You Plan the Perfect Honeymoon.’

Yours in Wedding Planning,

Lilian Sue