Interview Promotion
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RADIO INTERVIEW 101 Getting Radio Interviews in the U.S. for Indie Films, part 1 of 3

The number of people who have made independent films in the last few years has exploded. But there aren't more theaters, nor are there more people going to theaters. So how do you promote your indie film when every other indie filmmaker is trying to do the same thing? (Namely, trying go directly to the consumer.)

Before you answer "I'll use the web", let's look at a definition of the web as it can be applied to promoting indie movies. True, if you could pay to have your movie on the homepage of Myspace for 24 hours, this would be "promotion" by anyone's definition. And you could also mass-email consumers who are likely to want your movie, but first you'd have to build up the email list (which requires some other purchase or promotion). So short of this, let's define the web mostly as a "delivery" (mailing or download) vehicle, and leave "promotion" to things which generate immediate, trackable sales.

Which brings us to traditional media, and in particular, radio. Remember that traditional media were developed for the very purpose of selling product. And why radio? Because all other traditional media have lost LOTS of users, while radio has not. Radio is so good at reaching almost every person in the U.S. every week, that Apple finally gave up its war on radio, and is now INCLUDING a radio built-in to every new Ipod Nano (radios have already been included in the Iphone and Ipod Touch, and are slated to be included in every Google Phone). The numbers make it clear: Radio reaches 300 million Americans every week, whereas there have only been 30 million Ipods sold (10 percent).

Back to film: The way radio works for indie films is this: You do a radio interview with a principal of the film (star, director, producer, writer, even an investor), and this compelling interview will cause listeners to (1) call the phone number that you announce during the interview, or (2) visit the film website; both for the purpose of buying the movie. When radio interviews are done correctly, most of the purchases will come by phone, because of the fact that 50 percent of all radio listening is done in cars and while doing other things outside. And these listeners ALL have cell phones.

Why do film interviews work well on radio? Because radio listeners are not listening to anything else. They are only listening to your interview. By contrast, people can LOOK at many things at once (bouncing their eyes around) and thus not focus on any one thing, so although your ad/banner/text/etc may be on their screen, it is mixed into everything else that people are looking at on their computer and in their room. Thus many more "impressions" of a visual ad are required, compared to an audio interview, to generate a sale. People can't listen to more than one thing at once (and if they try, they get annoyed). So people set things up so they are hearing just one thing: A person, a song, a telephone call, or a radio. Matter of fact, when you are being listened to by a radio listener, it is common in the broadcasting business to pretend you are talking to ONE person, not an audience, because this is how the listener thinks and feels... that you are speaking directly to THEM. They are focused on just YOU.

Then there is involvement. If you have ever been interrupted while you were doing any project at all, then you know the feeling of thinking "would you please just let me finish this first?!". It feels better to finish a project (before moving on), than it does to stop halfway through the project and try to come back to it later. Same with radio interviews. Compared to seeing ads/banners/text/etc, which can all be glanced-at and forgotten, a radio interview needs to be listened through to its end, or else the listener starts feeling that they are missing something. This phenomenon has created something called "driveway listening", which is when people get home but don't want to get out of their cars until an interview is finished.

This all applies directly to your radio interview. When you tell about the story of the film's conception, casting, filming, editing, etc, especially if you INCLUDE some sound bites from the film, what you end up doing is building up the idea of the film in the listeners mind. At this point, many listeners already want the movie, and it's just a matter of what stands between them and the purchase that will determine if they buy it. MOST sales will be right at this moment, over the phone, when you announce the purchasing phone number. Then there will be a few sales later via your site, also.

This is what makes radio so trackable. Since most movie sales come from listeners dialing their cell phones and ordering right at that moment, there is no question which radio interview did the best for you. Listeners DON'T need more selling; they are READY to buy at that moment, because of the involvement they just had listening to the principal of the film describe all the facets of the movie. And if the price of the movie is $19.99 or less (especially if it's under $9.99), most of these listeners will not hesitate to buy it on the spot. If it's over $19.99, you will start getting fewer orders.

What type of films make for the best radio interviews? Ones with odd, intriguing, or controversial topics, especially documentaries. These topics make for good interviews even without a film; but with one, the topic is taken to a whole new level. Movies make for great on-air-giveaway items for radio listeners too. General entertainment movies can also do well if there is some other tie-in to the radio stations, such as plot location, filming location, the industry of the plot, etc.

Who do you choose to be the person that will do the interviews? A good clear voice is important, yes, but what is most important is a jovial, likeable attitude who responds well when fun is being poked at them. Radio, even AM talk shows, do not like to be black-and-white factual all the time. Little jokes, innuendos, tongue-in-cheek comments, all work together to keep the radio hosts (and listeners) smiling. And when the hosts are smiling, they will keep you on the interview longer. The longer you are on, the more involved the listener gets, and the more times you get to announce your how-to-purchase contact info.  

Next topic: Radio Interview Articles - Getting Radio Interviews in the U.S. for Indie Films, part 2 of 3

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