PR Perspective: “Selling” Screenwriters to the Academy and Voters

Posted on January 4, 2012



“And their off”. PR strategists have initiated their campaigns for this remarkable awards season. As Scott Feinberg recently wrote in the Hollywood Reporter, each strategist is using a unique tool that involves a series of narratives and precedents for their clients to get that vote.

While it seems that utilizing a story to help voters cast their decision for contenders in the acting categories, strategists do not seem to have a plan for the screenwriting categories. As important as the acting categories are, they are easy. They can gain the most media coverage making it easier for strategists to have a winning campaign. Voters and the general populace love seeing which of these pretty faces will gain the gold.

Despite this, I personally feel that the screenwriting categories deserve more attention than some of the acting categories. Yes, consideration is asked for original and adapted screenplays on ads present on some of the trade sites but I feel this is not enough. These writers toil over laptops to create an imaginative, original story or search through hundreds of pages of material in order capture specific moments to construct a compelling narrative.

Strategists should mount campaigns to get screenwriters to be more considered instead of lumping them in with everything else. It’s pretty puzzling that strategists are using stories to help actors/actresses win awards when stories would be more suited for screenwriters in this busy season.

In that case, there is one problem/challenge strategists need to overcome in order to launch a successful PR campaign for these illustrious wordsmiths. They need to decide whether adapted or original writers are the more creative candidates.  Deciding which is best is tough. As innovative an original story can be, it does take some talent to craft a new story from another artists work. Those adapted writers need to use their best judgment to pick certain moments from the source material that will help tell a digestible story  If a strategist can discern positive qualities to highlight, a contender for screenwriting can really shine.

After hurdling over this problem, PR people should pitch profiles of writers. They are interesting personalities too. The Hollywood Reporter conducted its annual roundtable discussion with the season’s big writers and I highly recommend it. These guys show that they deserve the spotlight just as much as their muses do. Pitching profiles to trades and other outlets can be vital for screenwriters since votes can gain more of an insight into who they are.

The next step would be more consideration ads. The only difference would be make them specifically for the screenplay. They are always included in all the ads online so making them stand out would be the best tactic.

Essentially, giving screenwriters as much promotion time as the stars can help them. Some strategists can worry that the writers might take more of the spotlight than the leading men/women but this can actually help. If a screenwriter is active in the spotlight, he/she can help gain a nomination and set up success for the rest of a campaign. Strategists should be using tools like this in order to reach that finish line. It might be late for this season but this strategy could yield the best results next year.

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