How To Maximize the Potential For Press Coverage for Your VHS/DVD Children's Title

I see a lot of product cross my desk that I wish I had seen before production commenced. Often, producers are so involved in the creative aspect that they neglect to think about how to market the videos or DVD later. Publicity - generating product reviews, interviews and articles - is as important to the success of your title as is production, duplication and packaging. Without large marketing/advertising budgets, independent children's producers need to rely on publicity to "spread the word" about their product. Journalists wield a lot of power. One great review with an 800# and/or web site for ordering the product may net significant sales. There are things that journalists like and dislike in children's videos/DVDs and will comment negatively or positively. Before you begin thinking about your script, here are eight tips that you may wish to incorporate into your production that will help publicists do their jobs:

  1. Journalists, especially in the children's market, like multicultural programs not tokenism.
    One African American child in a group of five is not multicultural. Similarly, journalists like to see gender-balanced productions. Again, one or two girls in a group doesn't cut it. If a production calls for five kids, why not make the majority girls?
  2. Release more than one title at a time.
    Releasing one title into the marketplace tells the journalists that this is a one-shot deal so why should they waste space on your one title when some other producer is releasing a series? Also, some editors perceive that reviewing a single title resembles advertising. Try to "launch a series." This shows you are serious and there's more to come.
  3. Create a more newsworthy release.
    A "new release" is barely news. Give a publicist something to talk about. Use an expert in the field or a celebrity on your video and make that person available for interviews. Donate a portion of your proceeds to a not-for-profit organization. Offer promotions such as a coupon good for rebates off other titles or other products. Create a birthday club for kids, or anything a journalist can write about makes your video release more newsworthy.
  4. Aim to fill a void in the marketplace.
    Producers need to put more effort into evaluating the marketplace. Just because you think you have a great idea for a video doesn't mean it's needed. There are hundreds of videos for preschoolers but try finding an appropriate title for an eight-year-old. Journalists are tired of videos for preschoolers. Aim for an older market and you'll have a winner!
  5. Go for awards and recognition.
    Dr. Toy gets coverage in lots of press with her various programs. That's virtually free publicity to you, if you are a winner.
  6. Establish a toll free ordering number and a website where consumers can buy your product.
    Too often distribution comes after a product is released into the marketplace and the media likes to report where consumers can buy the product. Journalists are reluctant to write about products that can't be found. Why? If a consumer can't find the title, the consumer may call the publication and complain. Printing the 800# and website avoids this and you may even get a direct sale.
  7. Above all, make sure you set aside a budget for publicity.
    Include publicists' fees for several months and expenses, such as press kits, postage, fulfillment, etc. Often, producers neglect this. Since most independent children's titles get limited distribution, how else is the consumer supposed to find out about your title? Publicity can create a market awareness and influence distributors and retailers to stock your titles.
  8. Post high resolution artwork on your website for the media to download.
    No one is sending photos anymore. We are in a visual medium. The press likes to print interesting photos. Make sure you have both the cover of the VHS/DVD and an action image to an idea of what the production looks like. If the picture is compelling enough the press may include it in their review.

Andrea Blain
President of Andrea Blain Public Relations Inc., specializing in publicizing children's VHS, DVD and toys.

Reprinted in part with permission from The Coalition for Quality Children's Media (CQCM).

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