Q: I’m the filmmaker of an award-winning documentary, “Church of Felons,” which exposes the severe drug and alcohol addiction epidemic of Polk County, Wis. How could we better reach over the border into Minnesota to gain support, book screening events and direct attention of influencers toward our project?
Jordan Mederich, director
Church of Felons
A: Given the grass-roots nature of your efforts, a couple of specific strategies come to mind, both more akin to direct sales and public relations than anything else.
First, consider carefully the successes you have had in the region the material reflects, and look for parts of your target market (Minnesota) that also may bear resemblance.
At this point, look at the list of local people who were engaged in your successful screenings, and find individuals with similar community connections in each of the target cities or counties you wish to engage.
This should lead to targeted outreach, perhaps telegraphed with appropriate mailings, but brought to fruition through telephone conversations and in-person meetings.
You are “part” of the Wisconsin community, and will only gain access at the same level by developing a presence in the target areas.
This will likely include visibility with community leaders, but also the local media. In your case, media may also include the newsletters of local social service organizations and churches.
You may enhance success in these efforts by engaging in more broadly read media, from daily newspapers and television, to strategically minded social media engagement.
To some degree, your question to this column falls into that category.
The key, from a message standpoint, may be to approach the content of your material as enlightening, rather than a form of activism.
People in other areas could easily become defensive if the perceived message becomes you pointing a finger at their communities.
Mike Porter is the distinguished service faculty in marketing at the University of St. Thomas Opus College of Business.