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10 ways to promote your community cinema

You’ve booked the venue, chosen a great film and are all set to launch your community cinema. So how do you get the word out to your potential audience?

  • Flyers pegged to the back of cinema chairs

We’ve put together our top 10 ideas for how to start marketing your community cinema to help you get as many people as possible through the doors. Don’t feel you have to do all of them, just pick the ones that work best for you, your volunteers and your local neighbourhood.

As long as you’ve got a commercial licence for your film, there’s no limit to the promotion you can do – and you can have lots of fun building excitement for the event.

Before you start, here’s a checklist for all the information we recommend your marketing material includes:

  • The film title
  • A brief introduction to the film, without giving away any spoilers!
  • The venue, with directions if necessary
  • The date and time of your screening
  • The BFFC age certification, to avoid selling tickets to underage customers
  • Ticket prices, and whether anyone’s entitled to a discount
  • How to buy tickets, such as in local shops or pubs, online or via email
  • Remember to include any sponsors’ logos, as well as your own

Good luck!

  • 1. Flyers

    Flyers are an easy and cost-effective way to market your event. Remember to use an eye-catching headline and a bold image to draw people’s attention. Then, why not ask your local printer if they would like to sponsor your event and print your flyers for free?

    Post your flyers through letterboxes, pin them to notice boards at local cafés, schools, the doctor’s surgery, your local supermarket, the leisure centre, at the venue itself and many other places where local people will see them in the lead up to your screening.

    If you are using images in your marketing, make sure you follow the relevant copyright requirements and credit the image source where necessary. To download approved publicity images, videos and other marketing materials for free, check out www.image.net

  • 2. Posters

    Once you’ve booked your film with a distributor, you can usually get free movie posters, similar to the ones you’ll see on billboards or at the cinema. They will add a professional edge to your marketing, plus you can display them at your venue for weeks in advance to generate interest. Ask the distributor, when you book your film, to send you any available marketing materials. 

  • 3. Your online presence

    Setting up a profile here on the BFI Neighbourhood Cinema website is one of the quickest and easiest ways to share details about your screenings, venue and more online. Your profile will have a unique URL - which will look like: bfi.org.uk/neighbourhoodcinema/yourcinemaname - which you can use on your marketing material, sending people straight to all the important info.

    Plus, why not set up your own website or blog? You can use it to sell tickets, show photos, ask your audience to vote for upcoming films and advertise future screenings. Keep your content concise and make it easy for your audience to get involved.

  • 4. Press coverage

    If you book your screening well in advance, it’s a great idea to send out a press release to your local radio station, newspapers and magazines. Just tell them the film you’re showing, where and when it is taking place, how to get tickets and where to go for more information.

    You can also add your event to the Press Association’s event listings database. It’s completely free and it will send details of your screenings out to your local newspapers.

  • 5. Word of mouth

    Word of mouth is one of the most powerful marketing tools you can use. Get audiences talking about your event in a positive way and you’ll reap the benefits. Ask members and volunteers to spread the word and get talking to friends and colleagues. If people have a great time at your screening, they’re more likely to support your next event.

  • 6. Email

    Collect email addresses from members, volunteers and audiences when they buy tickets. Then, you can build interest and anticipation for forthcoming screenings, remind your members that events are taking place and prompt them to buy tickets and invite friends. If you have time, send two or three emails in the run up to your screening – one month in advance, one week to go and the day before the big day.

  • 7. Get tweeting

    Your community cinema screening is a social event, so get people talking about you online! Most local businesses, magazines, newspapers, events organisers, pubs and the council will have a social media presence, so if you follow them on Twitter and promote their news and events, chances are they will support your event too. Build up excitement, encourage audiences to use hash tags and really build the atmosphere.

    You can announce your next event; remind people to get tickets and even live tweet during the screening. Re-tweet your audience’s positive comments and follow local people who express an interest in film. Put your community cinema at the heart of your community.

  • 8. Set up a Facebook page

    Facebook is a great platform to get people talking about your event – they can discuss what they liked or disliked about the latest screening, share the films they’d like to see and add photo or video content.

    Start off by asking your friends and colleagues to ‘like’ your page, link up with local businesses, tell your audience members where to find you and you’ll soon have an eager audience keen to hear about your next screening.

  • 9. Post-event marketing

    Keep the conversation going after your event. Send an email asking audiences for feedback, or just to tell them how successful the screening was and thank them for coming along. Tweet photos, share them on Facebook and ask people share their stories – you’ll soon find it all happens without you having to prompt anyone.

  • 10. Write a blog

    Give your community cinema more personality by reviewing your screening after the event. What did you think of the film? Was it as good as the critics suggested? A blog gives you the chance to talk to your audience in a bit more depth and ask them what they thought. You could even share your ten best tweets or Facebook comments to back up your argument and keep your audience involved.