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What Every Actor Needs to Know About PR

What Every Actor Needs to Know About PR
Photo Source: Photo by Roman Kraft on Unsplash

Whether you’re at an industry party, a family picnic, or standing in a casting director’s office, one of the most common questions an actor hears is, “What have you been working on lately?” 

But wouldn’t it be amazing if the person asking the question already knew the answer? Perhaps they saw a casting announcement posted online, read a feature article about you, or maybe they listened to a podcast you were a guest on. Now their question becomes, “I saw you worked on that new comedy series—how was it?” Suddenly, it’s a whole new world. You’re in the game and you look like a pro.

So how do you get there? By understanding why, when, and how to use public relations (PR) to help build your career buzz.

Why is PR important?
I realize it’s hard to grasp why PR is vital if you’re not sure exactly what it is, so let me explain. At its core, PR involves helping an actor gain attention and maintain a positive image through the use of publicity. 

Traditionally, this is done by securing and coordinating press coverage. This can include feature articles, radio or podcast interviews, talk show appearances, red carpet events and all those other blurbs that pop up about you or your project. 

And in today’s environment, PR can also include social media management as a means of relationship building. I know some of you might not like social media, but you need to learn to embrace it—there is no other free promotional tool that grants such direct access to fans. But you need to use it wisely. 

All of this matters because the public’s opinion of a film, TV show, stage production, or other project is often shaped by what we read or hear before it even premieres. The same holds true for an individual actor in the project. If we perceive you’re amazing in a role, we get excited to see you and we watch. This pre-release buzz can often make or break a project, which is why putting some effort into building it up can often be the key to success.

READ: 3 Steps to Prep Your PR

When is the ‘right’ time?
Years ago, actors didn’t have to worry about PR unless they were a celebrity. Even then, many studios would handle everything. Well, times have changed and you can no longer afford to sit back and wait while everyone else is sharing their successes with the world.

Over the years, I’ve met a lot of actors who are afraid of publicity. They worry no one will care about what they’re doing. After all, they aren’t the star of the film or a series regular. To this I, say, STOP! It’s time to lose the fear. There are more press outlets and reporters than ever before, all looking for stories that will satisfy their audience. As an actor, you have more opportunity to gain press attention than you realize. It’s simply a matter of understanding where to begin.

How do I get started?
When an actor approaches a role, he/she tends to have a strategy for becoming that character. You might create a backstory, objectives, craft thoughts and implement other tactics that help you develop the character into a believable person.

The same care and attention needs to be put into building a solid PR strategy. Even though PR falls into the business side of “the biz,” it can have a significant impact on the artistic opportunities you get during your career.

Creating a target media list is a good place to start. Search online for press outlets and individual reporters that mention you or your projects. Look for outlets that cover the specific genre (horror, comic, sci-fi, comedy, etc). Add any reporters who might have covered you in the past, even if it’s a different type of project. And definitely include outlets you have a connection to (hometown, alumni, organizations, etc).

Also, keep in mind most press outlets are interested in covering a project when it’s first becoming available for the general public to consume. It makes sense because people like to learn about films or shows when they can actually see it themselves. So a smart time for your press campaign is during the weeks leading up to the premiere.

Overall, if you’re looking for an answer to the question of whether you should be using PR in your career, the answer is a resounding yes. The hesitation so many of you feel about PR is due to the fact that you simply don’t know why, how or when to use it. It’s not because you aren’t worthy.

Want even more tips to help you get started with PR? Grab my free PR Starter Kit.

Tammy Lynn is the lead publicist and founder of spotlightprcompany.com, an innovative boutique PR firm that offers affordable and effective a-la- carte publicity services to actors and creative artists. With nearly 20 years of experience working in the public relations field, Tammy has helped thousands of actors build career buzz and share their talents with the world. Her efforts have garnered placements in top-tier trade and consumer media, including television, print, radio and online outlets. She loves helping actors at every level gain press attention for their talents, believing it’s never too early to set yourself up for PR success!

Get all of your PR questions answered by peers and experts on the Backstage Community forums!

The views expressed in this article are solely that of the individual(s) providing them,
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.

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