In this rah-rah edition of Mind Your Business, Mark Simon discusses the right cheers one can shout to help self-promote their teams success.
Promotion is anything that gets you and your work noticed at little or no cost. Its free marketing. Yeah! Go Team Me! At least its free if you do it yourself. You may have to pay a publicist to help, but there are a lot of types of self-promotion that are easy and free.
The simplest form of promotion is to talk about what you do. Dont be shy. How will that cute quarterback know you like him if youre too shy to talk to him?
You can be the best artist in the world, but if no one knows it, they wont know to hire you. You dont have to brag, but its OK to talk about what you do. In fact, be proud of it. Cheer about your art! People are more likely to hire those who are confident in themselves.
How do you meet the right people? You know, the really popular kids who everyone wants to hang out with. Go to the parties and industry events. When you get there, introduce yourself to people. Thats why they are there too.
The easiest way to meet almost everybody at an event is to help out at the event. Offer to sit at the check-in table. Not only will you get to say Hi to everyone signing in at your table, you get to find out their name and quickly introduce yourself. That brief intro at the table makes it much easier to walk up to that person and talk to them later in the event.
Lets say you get up the courage to go to an industry event and you run into the lead cheerleader and you really want to work on her team. Talking to her may make you feel important, but it probably wont get you a job. Asking for a job might work.
Helping at events also shows potential clients what a great worker you are and they get to know you. There is a reason that the people who work on events always seem to have a lot of work.
The most common form of promotion is the press release. Its kind of like getting the yearbook staff to write about you. You could get a full-page ad, without paying for an ad. The trick to writing your own press release is it needs to be newsworthy. Dont just write about how great you are, but find the news hook that would interest the paper or magazine. Did you just win an award? Is a big project you worked on about to be released? Did your work help someone? Are popular people attached to the project?
Periodicals love running pieces about artists because it gives them great art to print.
For instance, Jimmy Buffets new movie, Hoot, just came out. My company provided the storyboards for the movie. Our press release went out just before the movie came out and within hours articles appeared.
The release contained great art, reference to a locally produced movie and Jimmy Buffet, all elements that newspapers like to print. (Plus this paragraph is also a shameless promotion. Isnt it great how this works?)
Press releases also need to be sent to the right person. You dont go to the janitor to get into the yearbook and you dont send your press releases to the newspaper obituary writer. Approach the editor who oversees the part of the paper or magazine that relates to the subject of your release.
Promotion can be better than paid advertising. You can also write articles for periodicals which offer an inside view or usable information. Many people are more likely to read an article by or about you than to read all the fine print in an ad. Plus, being an author of articles gives you the air of authority and knowledge. But then again, who would actually write articles (Go Me!) to be printed in industry periodicals (like this one). Articles also keep your name in front of your industry.
You can also write books on a subject you know a lot about. Not only are books great exposure, but it never hurts a job interview to say you wrote the book on the subject that they are thinking of hiring you for.
Promotion can be more than print. It can also mean television exposure. Can you be an expert on a subject that is current in the news? Are you working on something that is interesting and includes great visuals? Let the local news directors know. Remember when Disney had to recall millions of copies of The Rescuers DVD because an animator put something they shouldnt have in the background of two frames? The news stations wanted to interview an animator about what happened and I made sure they knew about me. I was interviewed on three news broadcasts in the same night.
When my series of animated shorts, Timmys Lessons In Nature (heres another shameless self-promotion of one of my projects), started winning festivals, I called the local morning news shows. They got to show great animation (remember, this is all about promotion) and they had a story they could have fun with.
How about lecturing? Talking to large groups of people promotes your name and what you know and what you do. Is it right for you? Do you feel comfortable talking in front of large groups of people? Maybe even dressing like a cheerleader to get their attention? Nah. Who would do that?
Animators have opportunities to enter their work into festivals. Going to festivals is a great time to meet people and winning festivals gives you great promotional opportunities, not to mention a great addition to your résumé.
Charity work is often overlooked as a promotional opportunity. Charities need more than money. They need resources too. Some may need logos, others may need art, layouts, signage or even commercials. I produced an animated commercial for the American Cancer Society at no cost to them to promote their annual Cattle Barons Ball. In exchange for our charitable contribution, my company and the other companies who helped make the spot were given large banners at the event, ad space in the event booklet and the MC mentioned our companies during the Ball. It was a win-win situation for everyone involved.
Now some of these promotions take time to prepare. There is one type of promotion that works great and takes no extra time. Make sure your contact information is on all the work you produce. Also make sure that your name and contact information is on every crew contact sheet for every project you work on. You want it to be easy for people you work with to find you and hire you on other projects.
Freelancers and business owners should never have free time. Any time not working on a project should be spent promoting. Whether its meeting new people, touching base with old friends, getting in newspapers, appearing on TV or cheering in a skirt, good promotion will help you land more work.
Mark Simon is an award-winning animation producer, storyboard artist and lecturer who is also the author of what could be considered promotional items, Facial Expressions: A Visual Reference for Artists, Producing Independent 2D Character Animation and Storyboards: Motion In Art. He can be found lurking around at www.FunnyToons.tv and may be reached at MarkSimonBooks@yahoo.com. Marks books may be found and purchased online at www.MarkSimonBooks.com.
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