Promote Your Program: How to Use New and "Old" Media to Push Your Show
Why should anyone watch my show?What is the message I'm trying to get across to viewers?
What am I trying to say about my program?
These are questions you should ask yourself when thinking about how to get more people to take a look at what you've worked so long and hard on.
I'm pretty certain you would like your audience to increase as much as possible. Whatever your reason or motivation might be, public access television allows you to have a voice that that has the potential to reach many. Unfortunately, reaching out to the masses doesn't happen by itself or overnight.
You must promote.
The Web has become a revolutionary platform for social media where there are seemingly endless ways of interacting and networking. If you have taken a peek into the world of social networking, you know how easy it is to interact with a variety of people in a single session on any of the popular sites (e.g. Youtube, Blogger, Facebook, MySpace.) It's not difficult to recognize the potential these sites have for the public access producer -- but only if people can find you on them.
Creating a place for your show on the web is easier than ever and it doesn't have to cost you anything if you do a little homework. There are numerous social networking and media sites that are free and lots of resources to help show you how to use them. Virtually all of these sites are relatively simple to set up and the majority of them offer guides or instruction.
Some sites also guide you in making sure your page shows up in the major search engines. This is where doing your homework comes in. Remember to take half a second to find out what the features or specs of the site are. Many sites cater to specific audiences or offer features you may want or don't need. You want to get your time's worth (since you're not spending money) and not jump into something that doesn't fit in with your promotional plan.
If you have the time and energy, you can create pages for your program on multiple sites, creating more exposure. You'll have to maintain them pretty frequently though; visitors are usually swayed away from a site with infrequent or sporadic updates. If you have friends that already help you with your show, get them to help spread the word across the web. You and your crew can promote by posting video clips and content in other blogs, profiles, and video sites.
Make sure your site address is visible in your credits so your viewers know where to find you and include your program info on your site and videos so the viewer know how and where he or she can watch your cable program.
Analyze and Plan
Do a little research; find out who your target audience is. Find locations, online or in the offline real world, where your audience congregates and spread the word to them. You can get a general idea of who is watching your program by stats: page or video views and comments. Find out who, when, where, what and why. Learn from your promotional mistakes.
Focus on the Show
Promote your actual content, not just the fact that it has a timeslot. What is good about it? What is discussed or shown? If you dont believe in your show, no one else will. If you feel you have a quality program and are passionate about it, others with be enthusiastic as well and help in the promotion effort.
Put Your Videos Clips Online
There are a lot of video sharing/hosting sites on the web, just be sure to look at the features and do a little research if you have to. If you're a bit of a tech geek, you may want to create your own website with your own domain (e.g. www.yournamehere.com) giving you a lot more control over your content. There are also a number of services online that allow you to offer downloadable podcasts for your viewers.
Keep Viewers Informed
Make sure information about your program is easily accessible. Create an email newsletter that your viewers can sign up to. Send out frequent updates. Utilize RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds to allow viewers to receive updates immediately. Many sites allow you to automate your update process making it easier to do it for every episode. Regularly distribute media releases and media kits.
Word of Mouth
Speak to the world online and offline. Direct your energy into telling everyone about your show and why they should watch it.
Take advantage of networking opportunities. Partner up with other producers to share techniques and ideas.
Create DIY (Do It Yourself) promotional materials. You can find plenty of resources online and at the library. Do your own desktop publishing or look for online print houses.There are a number of sites that offer high quality/quantity printing for business cards, postcards and flyers. Some offer services that only require a shipping fee as long as you allow them to place their logo and web address on the back.
Take advantage of your strengths and opportunities. Utilize your personal and professional talents.
Keep it Legal
Make sure all of your online and offline promotional methods are legal and ethical. It'll be hard to promote or produce your program if you're tied up in legal issues due to copyright infringement or something else that could be easily avoided. There are many more ways, simple and complex, of promoting your show, but consider this a little introduction to help get you started.
Keep an eye on QPTV.org for a list of popular social networking and media sites, more tips, regular updates, questions and comments.