Sunday, April 2, 2017

2017: The (Not-So) Dreaded Press Release revisited!

Hey gang,

This past weekend, I attended Wondercon 2017 as a panelist for "How to Get News Coverage" moderated by Rik Offenberger of First Comics News. Way back in 2011, I attended the same panel and to this day, it was one of the best things I could have done with regard to preparation for the leap into the indie comics world. The information I received was invaluable.

With that said, as a panelist at this year's Wondercon, I was able to give some insight on my experiences and process. One of the most popular posts on this blog was my original "The (Not-so) Dreaded Press Release." After speaking to a few attendees about this very subject, I thought it would be beneficial to post it again (the original was soooo 2012.)

If you're a new creator, I hope this helps!


Josh S. Henaman

Here's the original post:


Or alternatively titled, “One Man’s Attempt to Get Someone… Anyone to Read His Bigfoot Comic Book.”  

Last year I attended a panel at Wondercon titled, “How to Get News Coverage” with panelists from a variety of comics news sites, including Comic Book Resources, First Comics News and The Beat, just to name a few.  And while the information they presented was absolutely golden, one thing stuck with me as I prepped the big release for Bigfoot – S.O.T.E. #1.

They see a lot of press releases… Every day. 

Whether it’s the latest game-changing crossover from the big two or the next Kickstarter phenomenon, not a day goes by that the news agencies are not bombarded with pitches and press releases.  Some releases you know have been finessed and massaged by a massive marketing machine and others not far removed from having just been scribbled down in a well-worn moleskine notebook.  If you’re just one small indie in a sea of mainstream and indie books, chances are you won’t see daylight.  So after I finished furiously jotting down notes and potential contact names, I left the panel with one driving goal when it came to perfecting a press release.  One golden rule that sat above all others. 

Don’t be boring. 

Okay, that seems like a cop-out.  That’s like saying, “Be good,” without really giving any thoughts or instructions on how to actually “be good.”  So I’ll talk about how I approached Bigfoot.    

First things first, I actually get a kick out of writing press releases and query letters.  For me, it is kind of fun to break something down into what is essentially a “trailer” for what you’ve written.  Don’t give ‘em too much and leave them wanting more. Think of whoever is reading your press release as your audience (and this includes news outlets and reviewers.)  You want to entertain them.  Sure, you want to give them all the necessary information they’ll need to either construct a blurb or post your exact words (aka the Who, What, When, Where, Why and How), but you have to keep in mind that your press release may just be another sheet on a stack of papers or another email in a long list of emails.  And if you do any research into writing press releases you’ll quickly find out that a lot of them look the same.  EXACTLY the same. 

So how do you stand out? 

For me, it was simple.  Draw them into the world and make them a part of the story.  Don’t just give them the facts.  I’m pretty sure nobody wants to read, “Josh Henaman’s latest book is a six-issue mini-series… “ (snooze.)

Take a look at my first press release (I actually created two.  The second one I briefly cover further down.)  

Bigfoot Sword of the Earthman press release comic book barbarian graphic novel marketing

The first line is obviously your title, not quite a sentence, but a quick snippet to grab their attention.  “Bigfoot… with a Broadsword.”  After reading that, you have a pretty good visual in mind. 

The second title is your one-sentence pitch.  “Mini-series takes Bigfoot on an epic sci-fi adventure to a distant planet of dinosaurs, barbarians and damsels in distress.” 

Once again, you have some cool visuals to go along with the initial “Bigfoot… with a Broadsword” title.  And while you have these awesome moments of Bigfoot fighting monsters and saving some ladies, you also have the first bit of relevant info to the book.  It’s a mini-series.  The reason I opted to mention it here is because I don’t bring it up again until the fourth paragraph.

And speaking of the fourth paragraph, if you’ve done the research on how to write a press release, you’ll see that this paragraph is the one more releases lead with.  The reason I didn’t is because “Brewhouse Comics” and “Josh S. Henaman” are about as far as you can get from a household name at the moment.  The last thing I wanted to invoke was a sense of “Who cares?”

Instead, I opened with an event.  

On October 20, 1967, a pair of hunters caught on film the image of a solitary creature in the wilds of Northern California.  After a media firestorm, no credible evidence could prove the existence of this “Bigfoot” and for the next 40 years the sighting was largely deemed a hoax.  On November 6th, 2007, the NASA rover, Spirit, photographed the same creature on a ridge just south of Grissom Hill.  The location?  Fourth planet from the sun: Mars.   On November 7, 2012… the world discovers how he got there. 

The dying planet needed a hero… what they got was a sasquatch.”

This entire sequence has the feel of a good horror movie trailer.  It kind of has that old school Texas Chainsaw or The Town that Dreaded Sundown faux-documentary vibe to it.  It sucks you in.  Makes you feel like you're a part of it.

After that, I finally get into the meat of the Who, What, When, Where and Why.

The second press release focused more on the "Brewhouse" name.  Once again, I kept the "Hi, my name is Josh S. Henaman" to a minimum and essentially started off with a question.  "What do the craft beer industry and comic books have in common?"  

Bigfoot Sword of the Earthman craft beer press release barbarian comic book comic book marketing
My reasoning for this approach?  I had to ask myself a few questions.  Who am I trying to reach?  What is my niche?  Comic Books, Bigfoot and Beer.  Pretty simple when you think about it and it gives it a unique spin that a lot of reviewers or news sites haven't seen before.  

So that's it.  Comic book marketing and writing a press release shouldn't be seen as a necessary evil.  Sure, you have the standard info you absolutely need to state, but there are no rules saying you can't change it up a little.  Have some fun with it and your audience (aka the reviewers) may get a kick out of it and decide to run with it.  It's an extension of your storytelling abilities.  

Have a good one, 

Josh S. Henaman