PR At The Movies

As I write this, recent movie releases have been achieving astonishing success in Ireland.

Fast and Furious 7 became the second highest debut of 2015 after the monster success that was 50 Shades of Grey.

And now Jurassic World has become the first movie to make £500m in its opening weekend.

People outside movie-land may assume there is very little work that needs to be done when it comes to promoting “moving pictures” in the digital age. We can watch trailers on YouTube, follow our favourite production companies on Twitter, we can even bump into (not stalk) actors and get their autograph (like I did with Tom Hiddleston, totally by accident).

In reality, despite the plethora of publicity work that goes into premieres, giveaways, media partnerships and social media marketing, some of the most highly anticipated film releases still require PR support to gain momentum at a time when going to the cinema is now, unfortunately, an expensive treat for many of us.

We choose our screenings very wisely. Even the most hotly anticipated blockbusters could go one of two ways. And influencer opinion (through earned media) is now vital.

Just ask Disney about The Lone Ranger. Err, actually, best not.

In this climate, building public intrigue, positive ‘expert’ reviews and celebrity endorsements is all very important in the lead-up to a release.

I was lucky enough to be involved in a movie media relations event while working with a PR agency and it was the first time I’d ever seen journalists offered a physical experience in order to promote a movie (outside just watching it at a premiere). Clearbox Communications, on behalf of Universal Pictures Ireland, invited some of the country’s media to a drag racing how-to-experience so they could learn the skills of stunt driving in anticipation of the release of Fast and Furious 7.

Now you’d be forgiven for assuming that a film like that would garner its own coverage, given the franchise is hugely popular and has made it (unlike many in current budget conditions) to number 7 in the series. Add to that the public’s deep affection for Paul Walker and our keenness to know how the franchise would honour him, and you could get complacent. But often movies like this can be victims of their own success, exactly because their success is assumed.

Mondello Park were fabulous hosts and their MX5 was put to its paces around a tight-knit cone track while experienced and less-so journalists gave us a great day of racing, craic and, with go pros a-plenty, there was more wheel-spinning footage than Producer and Actor Vin Diesel would want to shake a stick at.

Added to the fun hands-on activity, everyone had the pleasure of meeting Gabby McDonald, officially “Ireland’s Fastest Woman”, a professional drag-racer at the tender age of 20 who gave her time to share her experience of driving at high speeds (300 mph+).

Coverage was numerous and engaging, from Morgan at the Sunday World, motoring press like Melanie at and RTE’s Michael Sheridan, to the online skits by Spin’s Gordo, Lauren and Riyadh and Anna Daly’s piece for Ireland AM. In the North too, our own Gemma Garrett covered the event for The Sunday Life.

Fast and Furious 7 was then released on April 3rd across Ireland. It became the Number 1 film in the country, taking over €1 million and beating 50 Shades’ opening day stats.

Events like this are extremely hard work, from the planning, co-ordinating, budget balancing and risk management, to the actual day itself and then all the follow-up work afterwards, but you just can’t compare the sending of a press release with photo and caption to the benefit of actually providing brand experiences for audiences to engage with, and not forgetting the video content you can produce that is so much more important in the age of digital media content and online news consumption.

And I noticed on Twitter last week that the same team were hard at it again, taking the stars of the forthcoming Minions Movie on a #MinionInvasion tour of Ireland’s most prolific sites. That will have been in excess of a 12-hour day and many, many days before that in the planning.

But photos like this don’t hit picture desks without a bit of graft:

Screen Grab:
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