Oh, yes…it’s that time. We most certainly are having that conversation…about actor postcards! I know you’ve heard it a hundred times with a thousand different answers, but you haven’t heard it from me! I’m not going to just tell you what I think about them, I’m going to try and inspire you to get creative in this amazing technological world.
First and foremost, I get it. You can never win, right? Every casting director tells you something different. I’ll tell you one thing and the next CD you meet tells you the exact opposite and on and on and on. I’m sorry. I am. I’m sure you feel it’s a losing battle sometimes. It’s frustrating for me, too. I wish there was a definitive answer for you, but there isn’t. However, there are some aspects to this postcard hullabaloo that you just can’t deny.
1. Fact: Actors have been sending postcards as a PR strategy for at least 20 years. Fact: It’s 2015, not 1985. Fact: When postcards first became popular, the Internet did not exist.
We have to change with the times. We have to acknowledge that just because something was great 20 years ago, does not mean it’s still great today. I say this with all honesty and love—I have worked with many, many “big and powerful” casting directors over the years. Do you know the one thing they all have in common? I never ever saw a single one of them look at a postcard. Not one. Not once. I know there are CDs out there who say they look at them, and I’m sure some of them actually do. I know many actors feel safe clinging to that .001 percent chance that we may just look at the postcard on the right day and happen to be casting something you’re perfect for and we may tell our associate to call your agent and bring you in. Maybe…but it’s highly unlikely. There are more effective ways to market yourselves (and I’m getting there. Hang tight).
2. Fact: It costs a pretty penny to regularly print and mail postcards. Even if you found the best deal in town, it’s costing you money. Fact: Nobody likes to throw money in the garbage. Fact: Many CDs are inundated with postcards on a daily basis.
It’s true; we get tons and tons of postcards sent to us on a daily basis full of all sorts of information—(and I truly do not feel you should be spending your money to tell us things)—and inviting us to all sorts of events. There is no way that your postcard is going to stand out from the hundreds we get every week. We just don’t have the time to look at them all. We’re not going to see that you have a new agent. (Update your IMDb and Backstage profiles, and don’t spend money telling me info we can obtain for free.) You might also tell us you booked a TV show, movie, or Web series, or that you’re in a showcase or play, or that you a wearing a purple shirt and sneezed on a Tuesday. Chances are very high that we’ll never know about that from your postcard and that’s literally the same thing as you taking money and throwing it the garbage. Postcards? Yawn! It’s the same ole boring idea.
3. Fact: The Internet exists and most of it’s free. Fact: Social media exists and most of it’s free. Fact: There are new ways to market yourself for free that don’t waste this planet’s resources.
Social media: You have this incredible tool that actors did not have even five years ago right at your very fingertips. The power of social media marketing is unlike anything in the world! Facebook’s entire profit is earned from direct social media marketing. Here’s a great example: Personally, between both my Twitter followers and Facebook friends/followers, I am directly connected to about 73,000 people. Last time SocialBro calculated my social media reach, just from 73,000 people, I was actually connected to about 8 million people on Facebook and Twitter alone—never mind all the other social media platforms (Vine, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest, etc). When I post an announcement on social media, it potentially reaches 8 million people in seconds! That is surely a more effective way of marketing myself than sending 50 postcards to 50 semi-random people and hoping that maybe one person in each office looks at it. You can’t argue with those numbers.
You can come up with a million excuses as to why social media won’t work for you: it’s scary, I don’t understand it, Twitter is stupid, CDs don’t want me to contact them, it’s so time consuming……blah, blah, blah, excuse, excuse, excuse. Do you really think we want to be postcarded to death or buried in newsletters? No….we do not.
You can also get really creative with your PR. I had one actor send a “Do Not Disturb: Auditions in progress” door hanger, with her headshot on the other side. Genius. I have one actor who brings me a small bottle of hand sanitizer with her headshot on the bottle. A few years ago, we got a delivery – a pizza box with a giant cookie inside and a bottle of milk. Upon opening the pizza box, his headshot was taped to the top of the box. Smart! Yes, those are more expensive options and I’m not saying you have to do THAT but you should get creative. Social media provides the ability for you to do new, smart, creative and FUN ways to market yourself for free or very, very little money in comparison to what you’re throwing in the garbage right now.
Let’s also recognize for a moment that not every CD is on social media and even some who are do not want to be contacted by actors there. Stop freaking out; it’s OK! There is more than one way to market a cat. It’s not a question of this one way or this other way. It’s a combination of many ideas. If you can’t connect with a CD or industry professional on social media, figure out another way. However, and lastly—and this is one of the pieces of advice I give that makes actors cringe—you do not have to spend your time and money staying in touch with and saying hello to every CD in town every month. That’s just not really going to help you in the ways you’re hoping it will. That is a lot of time and money. I would bet if you added up all of that time and money you’ve spent over the years sending out these useless postcards, you could be in Season 3 of your very own popular YouTube Web series by now. Trust me—CDs most certainly are making it their business to know who’s popular on YouTube over who’s got the coolest postcard!
Said with love! xoxo
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