Marketing and publicity

For a film or TV show to be successful, it must have a well thought-out, planned and creative publicity campaign. Marketing and publicity in the world of social media and ever-changing cultural trends is a difficult and constantly evolving job.  Publicists, managers, assistants, EPK crew, unit publicists and stills photographers work together to create campaigns that sell productions and create buzz and excitement around them. 

Hooten and the Lady © Sky UK Ltd/Red Planet Productions

Skills needed to work in film and TV marketing and publicity

  • ability to multitask
  • pitching
  • good with people
  • everyday problem solving
  • networking abilities
  • sensitivity and tact 
  • ability to work alone and as part of a team
  • ability to work well under pressure
  • ability to give direction
  • knowledge of health and safety legislation and procedures
  • knowledge of film and TV media and the tastes and opinion of arts journalists
  • knowledge of publications and broadcasters and their demographics
  • contacts and good relationships with personnel in the screen and media industries
  • a good sense of visual composition and perspective 
  • photography and design skils

Ways into film and TV marketing and publicity

Most people working in marketing have a degree in marketing, PR, business or related subjects. Entry-level experience in marketing departments can be gained through internships and work experience. Writing skills, computer literacy and a broad knowledge of film and TV are essential. 

Publicists usually have a degree in communications, journalism or business and a background in public relations, media or production. Internships and work experience provide entry-level publicity positions.

EPK crew and stills photographers may be graduates of photography, film, communications or media studies. Extensive editing or photography experience is the best training and knowledge of a variety of camera formats is essential. There are a number of short courses available in editing and photography.

Jobs in marketing and publicity

Publicist
Publicists must fully understand the selling points and core audience of each film they publicise. They help create the distributors' release plan and generate publicity campaigns and press packets. They schedule and supervise press screenings or press junkets and follow-up with journalists on print, TV, radio and the internet to create buzz around a film or show. Publicists must also keep directors and producers informed of any PR developments or controversies and instigate any damage control that might be needed.

Marketing and publicity manager
A marketing and publicity manager's main responsibility is to enhance a film or shows visibility, raise public awareness, and convince people that this is a must-see. In some instances, they oversee the implementation of a pre-existing campaign created by the studio or filmmakers and re-tailor them for different territories or cultural differences. 

Marketing assistant
The role and duties of a marketing assistant are constantly shifting as the industry changes, but they can range from overseeing test screenings to organising dry cleaning for photoshoots. Well-prepared assistants know all the details of plots, production notes, cast and crew. 

EPK director
Electronic press kit (EPK) directors or producers work directly with the publicity department and the on-set unit publicist to determine the EPK schedule and how the EPK and 'making-of' will fit with the overall marketing campaign. On-set EPK crews will work with the assistant director to determine where to position behind-the-scenes cameras. Making-of programmes must be completed well in advance of any broadcast in order to be approved. With improvements in camera technology, EPK crews are increasingly made up of only one or two people and work on three or four films simultaneously. 

Unit publicist
Unit publicists' first responsibility is to issues press releases about the film or show to selected press and ensure details are printed in the trade press. They work with the producer and actors' agents to schedule press visits to set and work closely with the EPK crew. They must interview crew and cast to generate quotes for press packs, write long and short synopses and provide captions for all images. 

Unit stills photographer
Stills photographers are employed for a number of days on set, usually at least 15 but more if an A-list actor is involved, and must provide their own equipment (including four or five different cameras) and position themselves as close to the film camera as possible while trying to be unobtrusive and sensitive to actors performances. Photographers are usually employed on a freelance basis and after shooting they will work in processing labs to choose their best shoots (up to 75 per cent of which may be rejected or 'killed' by actors and their publicists). Once selected, their images are sent to sales companies, publicists, distributors, and PR who use them for press and advertising campaigns. 

Find out more about working in marketing and publicity

Organisations and websites:

Books:

  • The Conversations: Walter Murch and the Art of Film Editing, by Alfred A. Knopf

Some other job roles in sales, exhibition and distribution