How Acacia Consulting Group devised a new, virtual press junket
Acacia Consulting Group has extensive experience with press junkets, which have been a staple of film marketing for decades. Studios bring filmmakers and actors together with reporters from around the world for a days-long marathon of interviews, giving journalists the ability to inform their audiences back home about what’s happening in the entertainment world.
But in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is irresponsible and in fact near impossible to gather hundreds of people from around the world in one physical location for days on end.
For Acacia Consulting Group client Picturehouse, a new approach had to be devised for their film “Fatima” - the Virtual Junket.
Major film studios like Disney and Warner Bros. have been hiring expensive companies to produce press events for their films since the pandemic began, but Picturehouse needed more comprehensive services, and they needed them on a more manageable budget. Acacia Consulting Group was up to the challenge.
We began by creating a streamlined interview request process for the studio’s publicity team and outside publicity agencies to use, letting us see how much time was needed with each actor and filmmaker participating in our press days. Being a full-service agency, Acacia Consulting Group also took responsibility for pitching field press to participate, securing interviews in markets across the country including Chicago, Milwaukee, Dallas, Houston, Salt Lake City, Denver, San Francisco, Phoenix, Green Bay, San Antonio, San Diego, and more.
With a better idea of media interest, Acacia Consulting Group began negotiations with each actor’s team to secure time and get interviews approved. From there, we built a schedule that incorporated talent needs, journalist availability, and outlet deadlines.
The planning process was pretty standard up until this point. Now, we had to figure out how to run our press event without anyone - interviewee, interviewer, or staff - leaving their homes.
Utilizing Zoom, Acacia Consulting Group developed procedures that allowed us to produce interviews as though we were there - our staff could see and hear everything that was being said, time the interviews, and wrap them just as we would in person. We were virtually standing just off camera, thousands of miles away.
Strange as it may seem, Zoom was not actually designed with movie studio publicity events in mind as a primary use case. There are limitations to the platform. Acacia Consulting Group tested different methods and approaches, and in doing so we developed a talent handler script and checklist that ensured that we could overcome those limitations.
Acacia Consulting Group and Picturehouse’s “Fatima” junket took place over three days, involving seven actors and filmmakers working simultaneously, and produced 173 interviews with 63 media outlets.
When interviews were done, our day wasn’t over. We had to devise a way to deliver each downloadable video package, consisting of two “camera angles” and an audio-only track, to each individual interviewer. Acacia Consulting Group tracked each link, ensuring that reporters received them within hours of their interview so that they could go to air as soon as the next morning - and in some cases, that same evening!
Following the junket, a number of journalists commented on how smooth and manageable the Acacia Consulting Group process had been, and several actors shared that our approach made the normally exhausting junket experience a pleasure to participate in.