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Horror Day Publicity Class

The following is an online class designed to help interested parties promote Horror Day on Friday, October 13. This class is broken out into four stages of promotion. You can also download a PDF version of this class by clicking here.


Stage One - Plan an Event

The Horror Day of Action (Friday, Oct. 13) is a day meant to bring the horror genre to the forefront of attention of as many people as possible. It is meant to be a worldwide phenomenon. The beauty of the idea is that there is no controlling organization. How Horror Day is promoted is up to the individuals making it happen.

What you can do to help promote Horror Day is plan an event that will make people think about horror. If you're a fan, that could be as simple as volunteering to read a short horror story to students at an elementary school. Trust us, teachers will love you for volunteering for that.

If you're a professional working in the genre, you'll likely want to plan something more elaborate. These publicity lessons are meant to help you plan, promote and execute your Horror Day event. The first step, obviously, is planning the event. Here are some things to consider.

Planning Your Event

What you can do to promote the genre on Horror Day is limited only by your imagination. Be creative. Make it fun.

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Stage Two - Write a Press Release

You've got your Horror Day (Friday, Oct. 13) event planned. Great! Now, how are you going to get people to come to it? If you've been working in the genre long, you've probably had the book signing where nobody showed up, or the screening where you and your crew where the only ones in the theater. You don't want that to happen!

What you need now is a snappy press release. Something that will, at best, prompt the media to want to interview you. But at the least, you want your event listed in the calendar of upcoming events. How do you make that happen? It isn't as hard as you might think.

News editors are busy people. They don't want a 10-page press release glorifying the horror genre, along with a list of your publication and film credits. You need to get their attention quick, give them the pertinent facts, and let them know there's more to be had.

Your press release should have a few specific parts that fit together like a Halloween skeleton. In the upper right corner you should have your name, a way you can be contacted, and the date the press release can be used. Here's an example:

Jack Skellyton
(212) 555-6666
For Immediate Release: Oct. 1, 2006

Next on the page will be your headline, centered, at least one space between the date and the headline, with another space after the headline. Make the headline catchy, but informative, and fairly short. Here are a couple of examples:

Local filmmakers offer free screening of new film

Or

Local author to hold horror writing workshop, reading at library

Emphasizing that you are local will help distinguish your release from those sent by bigger, out-of-town agencies looking for the same thing you are … free publicity. The media likes to report on locals doing things for the community.

Next is your lead. This typically is one or two sentences that give ALL the important information. Don't hold back. Here's a sample:

DOWNHOME, Pa. – You don't have to wait until the end of October to celebrate ghosts, goblins and werewolves. Downhome's own author of the macabre, Jack Skellyton, is taking part in the Horror Day of Action by holding a free workshop on how to write scary stories at 6 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 13, at Local Library, 123 Main Lane.

Next, you'll want to explain what the Horror Day of Action is all about in another paragraph. That paragraph could look something like this:

The Horror Day of Action is an international movement to bring the genre to the forefront of public attention. Born on the Internet, Horror Day buzz has elicited participation from well known authors, filmmakers, musicians and countless fans. The film “Saw III” has signed on as a sponsor of the first annual Horror Day.

The next paragraph is about you and your event.

Skellington is the author of three horror novels, the most recent of which is “Spooky Trails.” During his workshop he will talk about what makes a story scary, as well as how to get horror stories published. He will have copies of his books for sale after the workshop.

Then close it simply and quickly with a way for THE READER to get more information. Remember, you gave your contact information to the editor at the top of the page. Like this:

For more information about Skellington's workshop, call Local Library at 555-9988. For more about Horror Day, visit www.myspace.com/horrorday .

At the end of your press release, add –30– to indicate the end.

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Stage Three - Sending Your Press Release

Okay, now you've got an irresistible press release announcing what you're doing for Horror Day. Who do you send it to? And how? The how is the easier part, as most media outlets will take e-mail press releases. However, there are still some smaller businesses that may prefer fax or snail mail. And don't ever discount the value of hand delivering a release.

Keep in mind, during October news outlets will be very open to Halloween-themed story ideas. Horror Day is just what they need!

Here's are some steps to help you get your release in front of the right people, and get your event promoted.

Identify Potential Markets

Don't be shy and only send your release to one person at a media outlet, particularly if it's a TV station affiliated with a major network, or a daily newspaper. Also, the person you think is the right recipient might be out of the office. If you have access to the Finder Binder through your local library, that will provide with the names of the decision makers for media outlets in your area. If you can't get a Finder Binder, visit your state's press association Web site and look at the member papers in your areas. Most press association Web sites will name at least some of the people in charge.

Cover Your Bases

Anticipate the deadline of the media outlets. If you live in a small town with only a weekly newspaper that comes out on Thursdays, don't wait until Wednesday, Oct. 11, to send your release. They won't be able to use it. Send it at least a week ahead of time.

Be prepared to follow up. The day after you e-mail your release, call the people you sent it to just to verify they got it. Don't be put off if they say they didn't. Say you'll send it again, verify the e-mail address, and ask if that is their preferred method of receiving your information. Mention that you're available for interviews if they want more information.

While the success of Horror Day depends largely on your creativity, even the most liberal of media outlets are pretty conservative in how they want press releases presented. Following the guidelines offered here should secure you at least some media attention for your event.

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Stage Four - Holding Your Event

When planning your Horror Day event, be as proactive as possible. Never assume your host site is going to provide something unless your contact person there has specifically said so … and then try to get it in writing. Remember, the success of your event is up to you.

Here are some tips to help you make your event the best it can be.

Preparation

When your event is over, thank everyone who came. If you have items to sell, this is the time for that. Be sure you're able to make change for larger bills, and determine beforehand if you'll take checks. If possible, be at the door, or have someone else there to thank people individually for coming and encourage them to continue to support the genre.  

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