Impact Distribution: A 12 Step Guide

If you’ve got an impact project, distribution can be even more complex but it can also mean there are more opportunities available to you.

With impact projects your primary goal should be to 1) get your film seen by as many people as possible and 2) to get it seen by the right people in order to achieve the outcome you wanted when making the film.

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BRITDOC’s Impact Guide: has some great information on how to successfully merge distribution and impact in a way that in mutually beneficial, cost effective and efficient.  Impact Distribution is about compromise and ensuring that both the impact and commercial return are optimised. The two can even feed into each other, creating the widest possible distribution using marketing and press buzz helps to build strong relationships with movements, charities, the press and influencers and these relationships then help with marketing and outreach.

Impact and Distribution are strongest when they are thought of as one: Impact Distribution, and they need to be planned and strategised together.

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During my time at Open City Doc Festival I attended a session run by Rebecca Ashdown, a consultant from Together Films. I’m going to share with you Rebecca’s 12 step guide to creating impact distribution strategies.

Step 1) 3 Driving Principles

When starting to think about your distribution strategy, thinking about your driving principles can really help. You have to consider your own ideal reach, revenue and (audience) reaction. As well as looking at how these link and overlap with each other.

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Its important to make sure your teams driving principles are all line up and that you’re all on the same page.

A helpful exercise to work this out is to make a list of the key words that come to mind when thinking about the project. These key words answer the question ‘What is your film about?’ and these make up your Issue Context.

Your issue context influences where you will want to screen your film and can help establish the right kind of partnerships with organisations, charities and key figures.

Step 2) Impact Objectives

You need to be clear about what you want to achieve with your film. It can be something simple such as:  To raise the visibility of an issue.  The more specific you can be about your objectives, the easier it will be to establish your target audience, KPIs and Partners.

Step 3) Target audience

Having a picture of your target audience can really help you think about the distribution of your film. Rebecca gave us the advice of literally drawing a stick man when thinking about your audience. Next to the figure write down their age, what they like doing, the social media platforms they use and how they connect with friends. For example:

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From here you can think about The 1: 9: 90 Rule.  A common tool used marketing, for a whole host of products including consumer goods and fashion as well as films. The rule helps you understand the ways in which people create content, share and influence each other.

Aprox. 1% (often less) of the people on the internet who view the content are considered creators, they will create content about the topic.

9% are contributors or curators, they might share or comment on posts.

90% are simply consumers or as the diagram I found(Below) describes them, ‘Lurkers’. They will see the content but they will not post anything about it themselves or share it.

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www.grahamdbrown.com has a more detailed breakdown of the rule.

Step 4) Outcomes and KPIs

KPIs are Key performance Indicators.

Your KPIs can vary from project to project, but it is important that you establish what your desired outcomes are in order to evaluate your success further down the line.

Possible KPIs: Reaching a number or shares online, Screening the film in a certain number of universities (e.g 50 out of the 200 universities in the UK), linking the film to a particular day e.g international women’s day or just raising the profile of the issue.

Step 5)Strategic Partners

Rebecca: ‘Don’t work in isolation! It’s important to think about how you can join forces with other people.’

Try to build up a network of partners. You can do this by running some of your key words/objectives in a search engine to see which organisations or individuals could be a suitable fit. Put all of the possible partners into an excel doc and work your way through them.

Step 6) Impact Timeline

Like with any project, it’s important to think about how long each step is going to take. Creating a timeline and setting target dates for completion is important. On this timeline you can mark down any deadlines, for festival submission or for approaching VOD platforms.

Step 7) Platforms

Think about where you want your film to be screened in relation to achieving your impact goal. Rebecca encouraged us to think outside the box, not every film is necessary suitable for a cinematic release. VOD platforms might have more impact or setting up your own screening in an unusual event might be better suited to your film.

Step 8) Communication and PR

For this step it is a good idea to go back to your audience profile stickman and think about how they access information. Does your target audience respond to leaflets or online posts? You can also try to engage with unlikely supporters at this stage.

Step 9) Website / Social Media

It might seem like an obvious step, but having a website and social media pages is very important to reaching out to people.

Step 10) Budget

Everybody to change the world, but its very hard to do with no money. -Rebecca

Have a budget and stick to it. Write down all the costs regardless of whether they are big or small.

Step 11) Funding

This is obviously closely linked to step 10. There are lots of different ways of getting your project off the ground financially.

  • Kickstarter
  • Individual investor
  • Trusts
  • Foundations
  • Film Funds

Explore different avenues and if you have built a strong partnerships with people early on they can help at this stage.

Step 12) Evaluation

Recording as much data as possible is really important. It can help you on your next project and it can be useful to show this data to funders.

Take note of audience numbers, ask them for feedback and write down other forms of engagement as possible, such as tweets.

It’s key to remember to be as honest about what isn’t working as well as what it. Don’t just record the positive feedback. The criticisms will help you develop the project.

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