Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Film is Good? No, there is risk!

When it comes to the film industry, people always regard it as a brilliant, high earned and safe career. Is that true? Days ago, my friend and I talked about this topic. I answered her questions about the relationship between the film industry and the PR jobs. Below are our conversations.

Q: Is there any risk when promoting a film?
A: Yes, there is, absolutely. Every industry has its own weakness including the seemingly brilliant film industry. The risks come from many different areas. The most serious one is the regulation. In the US, there is the movie rating system that can severely affect the scale of audiences. In China, the State Administration of Radio Film and Television (SARFT) highly control the theme, the story and the scenes of each film. The film can’t be shown publicly until it gets through the SARFT’s review. There are risks that you have done every promotion proposal ready well but hear that the film cannot be released. In addition, you have to notice what your competitors do. Sometimes, the company will change the releasing dates of some films, which may outgun your film in terms of word of mouth and box office. Plus, there are chances to encounter natural or manual disasters. 

Q: What is the best example of handling the risk management in the film industry?
A: I want to mention the thunderbolt in the premiere of “The Dark Knight Rises” in 2012. In July, Warner Brothers planned a midnight show to firstly release the film “The Dark Knight Rises”. At that night, a crazed gunman murdered 12 innocent people and wounded 58 others. This tragedy forced Warner Brothers immediately reevaluate its PR plans for the movie. Luckily, it took a quick action and drew positive reviews. The studio, at the very first time, began to defer other major premieres, canceled all advertising and asked for the movie stars to comfort and support the victims. Also, the studio delayed the showing of “Gangster Squad” that depicted four men shooting up a movie theater.

Remembrance Book from Warner Brother
posted in the website of "The Dark Knight Rises"

Q: What’s your suggestion to best practice risk management?
A: Risk situations, although very rare to see, really exist. As PR people who protect the organizational reputation, we have to be ready to confront risks at any moment. We can’t treat potential risks slightly, assuming these would not befell our films due to low probability of happening. On the contrary, when we develop the PR plan, we have to consider some possible risk situations and come up with solutions to each risk. This prepared thinking can be written into a Risk Predicting Sheet to inform all the employees the proper action of handling risk communications. If the risk really comes, we have to be calm first and take right actions fast.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

In PR world, How Round-Up Goes

Round-up is an essay publicizing the product, the service or the corporation from a different perspective than the press release.

In the press release, PR people always centralize the news about the company. Whether the products or the business format or something else relevant to the company all can be included into the press release, only if it is newsworthy enough to hook the audience and can present the company in a positive way. In the round-up, it seems that the content is unrelated to the company. Actually, it isn’t. Through the round-up, PR people are writing popular trends of the whole industry to promote the company in a soft way.

Supposed we are promoting the film “The Maze Runner”. What should we write in the round-up?

#1 Rationalize why mazes are popular in real life. We can write the history, the development and the style of mazes, or the academic enlightenment from the maze.

#2 Tell the relationships between the maze and the film. We can analyze the characteristics of both the maze and the film art, and then find out the common areas.

#3 Recommend mazes in real life. This offers the chance of cooperation with tourist attractions and can lead audiences to a good experience.

#4 Introduce films featuring the maze, like “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire”, “Inception” and “The Shining”, etc.

Elements above are cited from  "Why Are People Addicted To Mazes"  

There are many elements we can write into a round-up. The round-up is to round up the company to a marco level of the industry. It introduces the industry and certainly publicizes the companies as parts of the article.

Monday, November 17, 2014

In PR World, Audience Is Host with Media As Servant

One month ago, “The Maze Runner” got released across the Chinese mainland. To promote this film, the production established a real maze at a shopping mall in Beijing, which inspired me a lot.

The Real Maze in Beijing
Established By 20 Century Fox to Promote "The Maze Runner"
The film production companies have been conducting press conference for decades to promote films before showing them. The press conference, pervasive in all industries, is only aimed at the media. Obviously, holding the press conference is the easiest way to inform the whole society that you are launching a new product, a new service or a new idea. However, the target audience in the press conference is the media, not the clients. Organizations often use the media as an intermediate to transmit the news they want to deliver. Although many PR professionals categorize the media into public groups the organization has to handle the relationships with, in my opinion, we can’t treat the media as we treat other groups like customers, regulators, stakeholders, and etc., especially in this web era.

Years before, organizations totally relied on media people to deliver the information and influence the public opinion. However, at present, with Internet and social media platforms, organizations can have their own voice in transmitting their ideas. I’m not meant to look down on the significance of media. After all, it is still essential for PR people to reach out with journalists to improve the likelihood of publicity about their own entities. The importance of earned media will never ever diminish. What I want to mention is that the Internet and social media platforms shorten the distance between organizations with their clients. It’s just like the organizational idea takes a non-stop flight to the clients while originally this flight must stop at the media. On the other hand, customers perform actively in the Internet and social media platform. They want to be engaged in the organizational event, not to receive the information the media give them.

According to Ms. Shen, the marketing manager in 20 Century Fox China, “The real maze we established is an initiative to promote ‘The Maze Runner’”, said Ms. Shen, the marketing manager in 20 Century Fox China, “Interesting interactions can trigger higher-level engagement and make audiences really aware of what the story is. We are eager to hold events not just for media, but to directly involve our target audiences. ”

This trend, named Experience Marketing (EM), has been popular for years in several industries. Nike, Coca Cola and Apple all once held EM events. The goal is to improve the engagement level. More importantly, if the result is good, like thousands of people attend the event, media will be hooked to publicize the event, the product centralized in this event and the organization holding this event. An interesting EM event can lead to much better results than a plain press conference. At least, it benefits media and audiences at the same time.

“The Maze Runner” taught PR people a good lesson about Experience Marketing. This is a new career in PR world and there is a new principle behind it -- audience is always the primary concern while media serve as the assist.