My name is Melissa Malone. I’m the creator (among other things) of the web series, “Or So the Story Goes,”- an anthology series that takes classic children’s literature and adapts it with a modern, horror twist. The series began as a project to teach teens about filmmaking and has grown into a full-fledged award-winning web series.
My bi-monthly column ''Or So the Web Series Go(es)" will discuss all the things that we “work” with throughout the web series world and my experience/advice in each. Obviously, take it with a grain of salt but… I’m happy to offer some insight (and take any questions along the way)!
If you prefer a lengthier look into who we are, check out my previous post It Better Make Your Heart Sing (aka If Not, Don’t Bother).
Working With Promotion
I’ve yet to find a filmmaker that enjoys promoting. Begging people to watch your series (no matter the avenue) is exhausting. The thing is though- why make something if you aren’t willing to shout about it from the rooftops? There are about a bazillion ways you can promote your series. I’m sure there are tons of ways I have yet to think of… but here are a few we have found to promote.
Find a hashtag and stick with it. I know there have been some really great posts on this board about branding and marketing via social media. Do a search and spend some time checkign them out! They are super helpful. It’s important to make your logos, hashtags etc easy to find and recognize. Help people find you and use all social media possible. Not good at all social media? That’s okay. Don’t understand specific ones (that would be Tumblr & Snapchat for this lady)- find someone to help you that does and engage, engage, engage. The addition of live video and stories have made this so easy! Share behind the scenes stories, go live one day on set. We even used this to our advantage for a small fundraiser last season. We went live at a local bar for karaoke night and had people pledge a small amount ($5) to our crowdfunding campaign in exchange for choosing a song (and a cast member to perform it). We were surprised by how well the whole thing went (and also by how much people love for you to make asses of yourselves…).
Also, interact with other series and creators. I feel like I say this in literally every post but it is SO important! We are an intensely supportive community and you will find people willing to give advice, share your series and just give general support throughout as long as you are certain to return the favor.
My partner in crime (and wife) and I have always been giant geeks. We met as kids in the early days of AOL via the WB’s “Charmed” RPG Gaming chat for crying out loud. So it’s no surprise that we are gamer girls, sci-fi geeks, and comic con nuts. After creating OSTSG these world’s combined in a way that was exceptionally helpful in promoting the series.
My hometown in Florida was having a comic con and got wind of our series. They emailed me about potentially flying down to do a panel at their inaugural festival on the series. While this, unfortunately, didn’t pan out due to timing, it did lead me to realize comic cons were a potential route for us. I begin emailing conventions, applying on websites, etc and before we knew it we had traveled with cast and crew across the country with panels, screenings, and booths on the series. We went to large conventions such as Tampa Bay Comic Con, Super MegaFest and multiple Wizard Worlds (Chicago, Pittsburgh, Philly & more) and smaller comic cons (Dover, NJ Geek Fest, Roc Con & more). Each convention held it’s own unique positive outcome. With panels, we are able to screen some of the series, hold Q&As and more. It’s a great way to find new fans and to interact with people that are already fans. There’s nothing more exciting than complete strangers taking their time to come to your panel to meet you and share their love for the show. It’s surreal and never gets old! Additionally, booths at panels are a great way to get people to pay attention. We make sure to have tons of fun swag to giveaway and our Email List SignUp for new fans. We also sell shirts and signed posters. Generally, we are able to get a booth for free in exchange for doing the panels and in some cases a free room & travel reimbursement.
In addition to meeting (and making) fans at comic cons, we have also met many supportive people in the industry that had panels and booths of their own (and even a few we got to secretly fangirl about while meeting- it can be hard to play cool- coughJewelStaiteOMGcoughEddieMcClintock). We even have a few amazing celebrities that followed our social media afterwards.
It’s also an incredible way to see parts of the world we would have never seen otherwise. Not only have we gone to some amazing conventions but we’ve also gotten to see new cities like Chicago and new sites like Niagara Falls! We always make sure to document these journeys via social medial and our teen assistant director’s vlog- Rainni’s OSTSG On the Road Vlog! (Check it out here to see how ridiculous we are). Also, on these journeys we never fail to leave business cards/postcards anywhere we can. In fact, there are postcards of OSTSG at a coffee shop in Niagara Falls right now…
Get all the press you can! Read up on press releases and send one out to any and everyone you can. A great idea is to send out a survey to your cast and crew with a few questions- where they grew up, where they live now and some questions about the series such as a memorable moment or why they connected to their characters. These can be used to send in your press release to newspapers and online blogs from their hometowns, etc.
Additionally, make an Electronic Press Kit! They’re so helpful and keep all your info contained in one place for any press that’s interested. They can easily be made straight through Google Slides- you can use the OSTSG one here for reference if you’d like!
I plan to cover festivals more in depth in a future article. However, it’s important to note when it comes to promotions festivals are a great way to find new viewers. Obviously, it isn’t possible to go to them all, but the more you can, the better- not only for networking but for promotion as well.
No matter your route of promotion, keep communicating with your audience. Remember to post even if nothing super new or exciting is going on. There’s too much out there for you to be quiet for long!