Film Public Relations (PR) Firms Movie Website Traffic Site Owners and Leaders Write a Movie Review

How to use Film / TV Critics Screeners, Critic Screenings Effectively

Screeners and critic screening have more value than you might be aware of. There is the obvious value, seeing a film or TV program for free and before the public but there are others as well. Some are public relations based and some are website related. I previously wrote about some of these phenomenon here: Receiving unsolicited Movie Studio, PR Firm DVDs, Blu-rays, and Promotional Materials.

Typical Invitation

Here what a typical critic screening invitation from a movie studio looks like when received in your email inbox:

Hitchcock Critics Screening Invitation

Hitchcock Critic Screening Invitation

If you received one of these, you would reply to the sender that you would like to attend the screening and indicate which screening you would like to attend. I previously wrote about obtaining critic screening invitations here: 8 Steps on How to Get Movie Studio Film Critic Screening Invitations.

Early Reviews Add Value

Writing early reviews for films and TV show episodes makes your website a more valuable information resource to your readers. Reviews help to give your readers a sense of the film and/or the TV show episode before it hits the screen or the airwaves. Your words will help shape how they perceive the film or TV show. The reader can weigh the pros and cons of your review against their personal likes and dislikes. They can also decide whether they want to allocate time and possibly money to see what is about to be brought before their eyes based upon your opinions.

Scarlett Johansson Hitchcock

Scarlett Johansson Hitchcock

That is why some movies are not screened for critics and/or issue gag orders, stating that a review can not be published until the day of the film’s release. This lessens the impact and proliferation of a possible negative review.

With your review published on a website properly indexed by search engines, that review – with good title tags, et cetera – will show up in search engine results pages (SERPs). People searching for these reviews with see yours and come to your website, increasing your organic referral search engine traffic.

Time to Write

When I wrote a review for Welcome to the Rileys, it was over 800 words long and took 1-3 days to complete it (per my other responsibilities, to say what I wanted to say about the film, edit the review, and research it). Without that screening for the film (detailed here: My First Official Film Critics Film Screening), my review would have been published for the film the Monday after its release instead of on Friday, the first day of its release. Critic screenings (usually held weeks before a film is released) and screeners (DVD copies of a film or TV show) give you a buffer, time to write at your own pace before they premiere to the public.

Network at Screenings

Use critic screenings to network before and after a film is shown. Most-likely other critics, movie studio staff, and pr firm staff will be in attendance. Use the opportunity to introduce yourself and exchange business cards or contact information, put a face to your reviews and the website your reviews are published on.

TV Show Screeners

Being sent TV screeners in the mail or given access to the media room of a cable or pay TV channel website allows a critic to review a TV show early. People want to talk about and see analysis of their favorite TV shows after they have aired and some look for early reviews before they air. I published the seventh season premiere of Dexter (Dexter: Season 7, Episode 1: Are You…?) weeks before it aired (Showtime sent me the first three episodes in the mail).

Dexter Homeland

Dexter Homeland screeners

The days leading up to the premiere, the review received more and more Google search engine referral traffic. The day of the premiere and days afterward, the review received higher than normal search engine hits as well.

This traffic spike would not have transpired if the review was not published before hand, before other websites with higher Google Page Ranks, pageviews per month, publishers in Google News, et ecetera, wrote and published their reviews on the Internet. I previously wrote about the effects of publishing early reviews here: How my website went from 4000 Page Views to over 16,000 in a single day.

The screener gave me an edge, a jump on the competition. It gave me access to something popular few people had seen and the ability to write and publish an early review on it.

Premiere Date Strategy

Once you have published your early review, consider reposting them to the top of your website (make it “sticky” on the back end of your website) on the day of the premiere. Many websites employ this technique and so should you. It makes it easier for the front page visitor to find that marquee content you want them to find. If your published articles are published on a Facebook Page for your website, “pin” the review to the top of the page on its premiere day. Consider tweeting about the review and pining a picture from the film/TV show to Pinterest (linked to the review) on the premiere date as well.

Conclusion

Movie studios and TV networks want you to review their product. It will potentially make them money. Use the opportunity they give you to conjure value, site traffic, and make a few new friends along the way.

About the author

Rollo Tomasi

A Political Science and MBA grad who started ProMovieBlogger to educate others on what he had learned through trial and error. Cinema and TV addict. Former writer at Empire Movies, Blogcritics, and Alternative Film Guide. In addition to writing for FilmBook (http://film-book.com), he also edits the copy published on the website, manages its writing staff, manages the back-end operations, site finances, its social network accounts, and works with publicists, actors, and companies on press coverage and promotions. He also created and runs Trending Awards.com.

  • DarenG

    This might be a dumb question. What is the recommended dress attire to attend as a film critic (press)? Is business casual appropriate? Would it change if this was a local pre-screen versus full blow premiere?

    • For my first film critic screening, I choose to wear a suit (no tie) so everyone would take me seriously. Turns out it was a good thing because I had not been cleared to get in but got in because (in part) of how I was dressed. They took my assertions more seriously.

      Business casual is appropriate.

      I saw other film critics wearing street and regular attire so there really is no dress code. At a premiere, just in case, look professional, business casual. Also know your site stats (eg monthly hits), have business cards, and if possible, an iPad so that you can show them your site within 50 seconds (this is where I write and publish. See?).

  • Qinlong

    What about when the review is negative ? Might that lead the studio or distributor to not send you a screener next time ?

    • No. That will not be the result. They sent you to the film (or sent you a screener) for your honest opinion. That is what you gave them, whether its negative or positive. You are not their PR person. You are a critic. You’re responsibility is to be 100% honest in your assessment of a film.

      Also keep in mind, if a film is bad, they most-likely already know.

      • Qinlong

        Thank you for your answer!

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