Getting Your Story Out w/ Sarah Moga
So sara moga is our communications director, and she and I spend a lot of time together talking about stories were always telling each other stories, and I think when we get excited about it, we feel like other people will be excited about it. That's the other thing is include people, I don't just come up with an idea, I think I'm gonna do this and do it, run it by somewhat, get some feedback people then say ohio what's the story, you know, that might not be a great story like if you could engage people around you, you can engage even more people around you. So we've got sarah moga who's going to call in, and I'll ask her a couple of questions. There she is. Hi, how are you? I'm good, thanks for joining us. We are here in the studio. It creative live, and I'm here with some students on dh. I thought I'd ask you a couple questions, and then maybe they'll have a couple questions. Can you get us okay? Yeah, I hear you. Fine. Okay, great. So my first question I would have done here is what...
have you what do you want? Do you want tio tell us a little bit about your background for a minute and sure so I started working with sheila just a few months ago and this is a little new for me because I never worked in the film world before, but for the last ten years I've been working kind of on the other side of p r I've been a tv producer news producer I I was in new york city I work for cbs news, I worked for anderson cooper I work for the daily beast so kind of done all sorts of genres and different kinds of media, and in the last few years I started doing startup shows new shows that when you work on news shows it's the same kind of idea you have to get them out there and people talking about them the same way you have tio get people to talk about and see a movie, so it kind of just worked out like it's a perfect fit to work with. She let indie flicks and I'm sort of on the other side now doing kind of pitching to people who have the job that I used to have. So can you tell us like what is it just to share with all the students like what would be the most effective way to get a blogger or a journalist or anyone to just to promote you to write about you to care? I think there's a couple different ways on the biggest thing is having relationships with people already I think that there's no you can't put any value on that so it's obviously very hard to just reach out to someone out of nowhere with an idea because people get you know, hundreds of e mails every day and they're busy and so a lot of times you you can kind of be lost in someone's inbox but if you have a working relationship with them from maybe doing giving them a great story before or working together in the past, I mean keeping up your relationships people's switch from that work on one show then they go to another show are from one newspaper to another if you keep up your relationships that's really big but I also think if you have something that is worth writing about are worth doing a story about them people will want it is just a matter of getting ahold of the right person and telling them what you're working on. So how is faras like what if you don't have those relationships and you have a great story what's the best way to reach out to a journalist? I mean or or to a blogger? I think if you do your homework and know your shows and know your websites and know the blog's and know what they're looking for and what they write about or what they're kind of stories they're producing that's the best thing you can do because you know like right now we're doing I'm I'm sure she let's talk to you about the empowerment project which is one of the documentaries that indie flicks is getting out to the world and theo empowerment project for me coming from a news perspective doesn't have a lot of like news hook kind of a value but if you look at a lot of other shows that are doing something like what we're going to do with that is put it on good morning america they have something carly girl power siri's so because we know that they are doing something like that they're highlighting stories about women who are doing really well and making a change in the world we know they're doing that specific siri's so that's a great fit for that part of good morning america so you just need to be very specific and what your pitches and find out who exactly is working on it I would have never email good morning america producers just randomly saying that oh we're working on this documentary you know you have to be way more specific and know exactly what they're working on and what they would be looking for now that's really helpful I think that's been sort of echoed throughout this entire courses to really do your homework to do your research so that you come from a point of you know really being really smart and knowing showing that you actually care about the people you're you're asking something from I have my feelings about press releases but I'd love for you to share your feelings about press releases because everyone's like oh let's put out a press release, talk about your feelings on press releases and then like what kind of content is appropriate for a press release and what should you say for maybe a blogger or something else yeah, I think press releases are important, but I would never rely on them on what I was a producer I would get press releases like a million a day on die usually didn't pay a ton of attention to them honestly usually it would kind of wait for when I had it, you know, like a relationship with someone and they said something to me specifically that I would maybe take a look but in general wasn't really something that I had time or really cared about reading on, but I do think they have a place you know lately we've been sending out some for indie flicks and we find that it they can get picked up on websites that you wouldn't have expected and that can definitely be helpful just kind of her name recognition and getting the company's message out there we sent a mme the one we recently sent out was about indie flicks being available in cuba and that is picked up in a lot of places that I wouldn't have probably expected or I wouldn't have reached out to them on my own, like by cnbc, so in that sense it can be helpful and I think it helps get the name out there but it's, the last thing I would rely on do you is there ah, pr service or wire that you recommend people using a filmmaker using? Yeah, there's I think there's five that are all kind of recognize is being very useful and pretty big time, but the one I use a lot of pr newswire, I think it has the biggest reach. Obviously it all depends on price. The more you pay them more, the more that release will be sent out, whether it's two bloggers or websites or to the media contacts and they're all you know they all do the job. So whether it's a pr web, pr newswire, market wire, they all dio, they'll get it out there. But I think pr newswire is known for being the most extensive, okay? And then so I've been told is the ceo of a company that journalists like to hear from me directly if if I want to get something written and not a publicist or communications director but no clearly, even as the filmmaker do you recommend it the filmmaker reach out directly I think it depends on the situation. I think you know, when you and I work together, if it's somebody you already know and you've already worked with, I think there's, I think the best thing is for you to continue our late your relationship with that person, there's no reason to be like oh, well, ask the publicist. I think journalists only get annoyed with the publicist. Feels like it's kind of a middleman and kind of making the process more difficult. I think if the publicist has the relationship than they should reach out, I just think every case is completely different and occasionally it's almost better to have a publicist. Because if there's a lot of logistics that have to be worked out in terms of, like, setting up interview time, other things like that sometimes it's is best to have somebody handling that instead of having the actual filmmaker that be kind of becomes a weird situation, depending on how complicated what you're setting up is. So another question is at what point in the filmmaking process should've filmmaker possibly think about getting a publicist or or issuing press releases? That's another one? I think it depends, it's, totally case by case, if you have something newsworthy and even if the movie won't be out for another year, I would get it out as soon as possible, like if you were the person to sign bruce jenner to the documentary he's doing right now, I would tell the world like way before it comes out because everybody wants to know or if you sign brad pitt to your movie, I mean, I probably tell I would start getting it out there way before you release the film on dh I think, you know, even in documentaries like blackfish that people were talking about it before anyone had seen it. So if you have something that you think is either newsworthy or has a very relevant topic to something going on or obviously a big star attached, I think earlier the better, but some movies don't fit that kind of or, you know, they just wouldn't work for that that's super helpful and, um, as faras do you think of filmmaker can release a film without a publicist? Yeah, I think you definitely can. I think it just it really can only help you depending. Like I said, a lot of it is based on relationships, so if you can hire somebody who has great relationships at the new york times or good morning america or whatever, that's going to help you a lot, but it's not necessary? I think a lot of times if you have something great you know everyone will want to get a hold of it but and even if you can't if you don't have a publicist if you know anyone who works in media you can come you know, ask for favors for them to kind of set you up with the right person to pitch your movie for a story you know, whatever you could do is great, but I don't know that it is like I must have I think it depends on the situation oh, and then I guess do we have time for a couple more questions I'd love to know like if what should we what what should filmmakers look for when hiring a publicist? I mean, I always think of good writing and good connections, but but is there anything else that they can look for just goodbye? So, yeah, I would just want to know like, what their career is and who they worked with in the past there's obviously there's a big difference between working what their sims huge pr companies that air really well connected like you know p m k b and c and sunshine sachs and I d p r and they work with a lot of the big celebrities and the movie studios, so they're obviously going to be really well connected they're really expensive though, which obviously makes sense considering their reputation, but there's a lot of people who are kind of offshoots of those kinds of big firms, so if they already work somewhere like that or they worked, they were journalists before they might have the connections and the, you know, the knowledge that you need. So I think I would just be really aware of what they've done in the past, who they've worked with and kind of what they've gotten done. Ok, that's really helpful. Does anyone here have any questions for sarah she's just got so much information. Yeah, david so when when crafting a press release, I mean, what what goes into a press release is really kind of critical, I think about the direct context that you were talking about, for example, when the ceo gets in touch with a reporter directly, has a direct contact that's going to be very personal and that there's going to be, like, sort of an intimacy level, whereas press releases, I tend to think of as almost sterilized, and I'm curious where you see the balance and how you create a press release, what kind of content you want to put in there? Yeah, but what it's a press release, it's, not something that I really I would say something I'm not really expecting, but besides a pickup from so recently we would we put went out about indie flicks being in cuba because netflix announced that they want to go into cuba so that was just kind of it was a perfect opportunity for us to just get andy flexes name out there and see what kind of pick up we got but I wasn't looking for you know a specific story to be told I would if I have something I think is really great for a morning show or for the new york times I'd rather you know, craft a specific email or phone call to it that one journalist and you know, expect that that would be a better way to get that kind of a story out there the press releases I really just kind of too kind of get a little moment um for the company and have people you know recognize the name or because they might have seen it on cnbc or something but it's not going to get you the same kind of like big feature story I wouldn't expect anyone to contact you about that from sending out a press release you know anyone else this is in regards tio filmmakers and keeping I guess good relations with journalists because that no journalist could be really busy people do you have any like special like uh can do's do knots and maintaining a good working relationship with journalists as a filmmaker? Yeah yeah it's a really good question I think you know as long as you keep up with people and you do them favors when they need favors it's like any other business I mean, most of my a lot of my friends I'm still really close with publicist I worked with when I was a journal, you know, when I was a tv producer it would be like a two way relationship, so sometimes they needed to get there client on and I would help them out and then other times I needed their client, you know, for the morning show right away and they would do it for me like as a favor. So I think it's, just like any kind of relationship you have in a working world where it's like you can't just only expect them to give you things you have to be helpful to them, you know, if you can invite them, do a party if you're serving a party for your film or whatever you're doing that you can also show kind of a reciprocal relationship and in general the only thing is a lot of them are under deadline, so even if they like you or they like your idea, they might not answer like four e mails in a row, but then they'll get back to eventually so sometimes you just have to be not discouraged and kind of keep up with them and not not get frustrated if you don't always hear back right away. Any other questions? Yeah. David, is is there anything specific that we can do as filmmakers to help make a publicist job easier? I mean, we can create assets. Are there things that publicis is looking for from a filmmaker perspective? Yeah. That's a really good question, I think as long as you have all the information as early as possible that's, that's all you really need as a publicist. So you just need to know, like dates when people will be where, when you're releasing what you know so as long as you keep them in the loop, because they might think of a way that to pitch a story based on that kind of information that you might not think of. So if you're going to do like an exclusive web release or something, you should tell them, you know, pretty far ahead of time because that could be the hook for them to pitch it to the media. Sarah, do you want to leave any and final words? Oh, my gosh, final. I don't mean to put you on the spot yeah, no, I just think it's sze, almost like the same kind of advice you give people make in a movie I think you just don't get discouraged and keep trying and you know even me I've worked with tons of these people in some of them ignore me when I e mailed them just you just keep moving and things work out you just can't take it personally well sara thank you so much for joining us this was really helpful. I love that you got tio it's certainly not my area of expertise so thank you and I'll see you I'll see you in sun valley yeah see you soon okay. Thank you. Bye she's so awesome. So was that helpful tio you know I was goingto go into like breaking it down but I will say just on a closing note with that the one thing I found a struggle or challenging with the publicist was uh I felt like I was doing all the work to give them to your point david I was doing all this work to give them all these assets and information whatever and then their job was just to sort of get it out in the world. In my opinion, what makes sarah so great is that she actually is so invested in what we're doing she is part of the story now which is why she is not a publicist she's the communications director and I think it's okay to have a communications director on your on your team if they're part of your team first of all, most the time we're not making a huge, huge movie with millions of millions of dollars were making a movie where they might be working sometimes and not others and when you go with these big publicity from you have to retain them for like a month or two and that gets expensive or six months minimum and then they're working with all these other clients. So think about someone who's a great writer really good with people you're going to create new connections all the time and so long as they're resourceful, bring them on and make them a member, a permanent member of the team, so they can just be constantly telling the story and as you go into these sort of quiet modes where you're cutting or editing and there's not a whole lot to talk about it's so nice that when you come out of that and you do have more to talk about, you've just been doing your social stuff. They're already part of the story they've seen it evolved, they've kept a part of the kept up to speed and they can just continue to keep talking about it they know the people they reached out to before that said call me back when you're when you're further along and that makes it such a smoother process you're not always going back to square one it's really important also besides the publicist and how much they cost and integrating them into your team? But what stories are you going to talk about? You know, if you go to a trailer at a theater and you watch watch the trailer there, basically telling you almost the whole movie and I used to think, why? Why did they spoil it? Why they show you the best parts and it's because they want to show you the best price because they want to shit they want you to think that you're going to go in and see that and then some unfortunately you go in and you see everybody seem like the best part, but there's something to be said about seeing the whole piece, you can go and have little samples of food, but it's sitting down at the whole meal is really just a whole different experience. And so it's really important to think about the stories that you're going to tell and share about the story you're creating about the movie you're creating. So, like you have the parents trying to figure out what to wear for halloween, how many times is that loud? The most asked question in halloween, we're gonna be for halloween, we're gonna be following what am I gonna be for homey so that is such a great way to promote your movie every single halloween no matter how old your film gets, you get to have that conversation because that's, a question that everyone is always asking. And why not watch a cute short film about it. So there's all kinds of ways to talk, to tell the story, to engage people in what do you want to share? So, again, you write that down. What are the stories that I want to share? You've got a whole ton of stories that you can tell the people who are involved in the whole revolution or was a revolution. But if you would like, go into the weeds and see all the different stories. Oh, my gosh, you could have something to talk about every single day, and you could even look at other over other revolutions, other aspects you could. You could dissected ten, one hundred different ways and talk about it.