How to Promote a TV Special

I was recently asked what my thoughts would be on the lead up to a client having a comedy special and I'm going to share my answer on here for you guys as well. This won't be an entire campaign work up, but here are a few ideas that can be used on the lead up to any big promotion.

First, I would try to ensure the client's appearance on all the usual interview shows, but more importantly, I'd make a special effort to get him on all relevant podcasts, and have him and/or the special written up in popular blogs. Comedy Bang Bang, Never Not Funny and WTFPod with Marc Maron all come to mind as appropriate venues, especially if the client has been a guest on the shows before. In fact, building a relationship with the type of enthusiastic audiences these kinds of shows have would be thing one for any client, no matter what they had upcoming. That way, when they have a special coming up, the crowd is already there. Social media audiences can be a little touchy when it seems like someone is just there to sell something to them. Which is why cross-promotion via other blogs and podcasts is invaluable. That way it feels more like a recommendation than a pitch.

Recent examples of this backlash in action can be found in the AMA section of Reddit. Reddit AMAs, when properly managed by someone who is familiar with the community and who can coach the client properly are incredibly effective generators of buzz. Other well trafficked blogs frequently cover AMAs, both good and bad.

Social media audiences love to feel a part of something, which is why I would have the client tweet and Facebook update behind the scenes pics and observations from the recording of the special that we could release on the lead up to airing as a teaser. There would also be teaser video put up on YouTube and Instagram.

For existing fans, I would run trivia on the client's blog to drum up excitement and reward them for being core consumers. There would also have to be a short, legible, and relevant hashtag for those live-tweeting the event at home. The name of the special, or the name of the comedian and the word “special” would do. That way the fans can tweet with the comedian at home, enforcing the community aspect of social media, which is what generates the most response and attention.

I would measure the results by looking at the relevant sites for retweets, favorites, shares, mentions, comments and responses. I would also check at least one of the professional buzz measurement programs (Vocus, Cision, and even Hootsuite have social media meters). I would insist on checking both on the live site, and the buzz software for a comprehensive picture as a personal search might miss things the search algorithm missed, and visa versa. Finally, I would compare the viewer demographics as well as direct sales of tickets and specials to previous events by that comic, and previous similar specials in that venue that didn't have a social media campaign for a rough idea of ROI. Any outstanding metrics (for example, several thousand people tweeting on the special's hashtag) should be put into the clients updated media kit.

~ M ~