Highly skilled and experienced people in the screen industry still feel reticent to promote themselves. Publicist, strategist and talent manager Karen Eck offers good advice.
'Look at moi ploise!' Kath & Kim rarely suffered a crisis of confidence. Image AAP.
When it comes to raising your profile, particularly for women in the screen industry, the challenges can be overwhelming and at times, disheartening. It’s easy to feel invisible.
Research by Dame Changer showed many of its members needed help putting themselves forward; they lacked know-how, ideas and momentum. Despite being highly skilled and experienced in their jobs, many had experienced a career 'crisis of confidence'. This is not unique to the screen industry. Anecdotal evidence suggests mid-career women experience the same challenges in all businesses whether they’re in banking or technology.
Many people want their projects in the spotlight but haven’t laid the groundwork to make that happen easily. I see professionals make the same common mistakes over and over. The good news is that they can be easily rectified.
If you recognise these mistakes in the way you conduct business, you’re on the right track to changing how you position yourself for potential opportunities.
Firstly, change your concept of 'self-promotion’ to ‘backing yourself’. Make sure you surround yourself with people who have your best interests at heart. And have at least one person in your business who’s in your corner and will give you a pep talk when your confidence reserves are running low.
MISTAKE #1: YOU THINK YOUR WORK SPEAKS FOR ITSELF
No it doesn’t! If it had a voice, it would say: 'Look at moi, ploise', as Australian TV icons Kath & Kim would say.
You need to make it as easy as possible for others to notice and care about your work. Ask key people to watch your film, back your newest project or support your cause.
Change your concept of 'self-promotion’ to ‘backing yourself’.
The best way to allow your work to stand out is to provide opportunities for others to discover and comment on it. Third party endorsement gives greater credibility. It’s why positive publicity is considered more valuable than paid advertising. If a popular and well respected person in the public eye endorses your work, that carries gravitas.
Key takeout: Give your work a strong voice with clear purpose and consistent messaging. And in order to do that you need good quality branding. Which brings me to ...
MISTAKE #2: YOU’RE ASSET POOR
Every publicist will tell you you need to have good quality digital assets. At the very least you need an updated headshot and a personal biography (no more than 400 words or a page). Use this copy to update your LinkedIn profile. Look for images from past and current projects. Create a ‘Visibility Assets’ folder on your computer (even better, save it to the cloud so you can access it anywhere, at any time). If you have decent hard copy photos gathering dust, take hi-res images on your smartphone. The quality is surprisingly good. It’s also important to label your image captions left to right.
Key takeouts: Being asset rich and asset ready will save you time and angst. You’ll be able to react quickly to media interview requests or industry invitations which will give you the winning edge.
MISTAKE #3: YOU ARE OVERWHELMED SO YOU DO NOTHING AT ALL
Let’s consider for a moment that all paths lead to the same destination but with different timeframes. Whatever path you choose, it’s key to get going. Even if it’s two steps forward and one step back. You’re still moving ahead.
Imagine if you spent just 20 minutes a day focusing on your personal branding? A networking phone call, an introductory email, organising your publicity assets or taking time to plan. It all adds up. Doing nothing gets you nowhere. Getting off the starting line is the first step.
Key takeout: Start and don’t look back.
This piece was initiated by Dame Changer, an Australian professional women’s collective, providing opportunities in training and networking for women in the screen industry, and The Power of Visibility.
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