Distribute Creative Assets to Talent: The New Imperative for TV Networks and Movie Studios

Today, audiences are glued to social media. But many entertainment marketers at TV networks and movie studios aren’t taking advantage of their biggest digital opportunities for promotion. Marketing teams tend to look at social media as a new advertising channel, but not as a way to connect with and influence their audience to remind them to watch regularly, or reach out to new viewers.

The new imperative for entertainment organizations is to harness their biggest influencers and proactively distribute creative assets to their talent. Empowering their most valuable team members with high quality, on-message photos and videos to share on their personal social media accounts has many significant benefits and increases brand value.

For decades, getting promotional or creative media assets in front of potential viewers meant billboards, TV appearances, press conferences, print ads, and TV commercials. But now TV shows (including news and sports) and movies have more reach at their disposal in the form of their talent’s social media followers. Distributing media assets to amplify promotion of a show or film — with the help of the talent that worked that movie or TV show — is an enormous opportunity.

It’s time that social media marketers, publicists, and talent relations professionals helped talent build their personal brand, and promote the show or film at the same time. Here, we offer first-hand knowledge about what works best to share photos and videos with talent, celebrities, spokespeople and even production staff.

distribute creative assets to talent to share
Pexels | Andrea Piacquadio

Share Media Assets With Talent: It’s What They Want

Sharing short-form media assets, videos and photos with talent benefits ALL parties. It’s a common misconception that talent won’t post things because they’re disengaged, too important, it’s a hassle, or will only do the specific things outlined in their contract. After working with dozens of TV networks and studios and hundreds of shows we’ve found these misconceptions simply not to be true.

Many studio execs and marketers wrongly assume that talent doesn’t want to do any “promotion” and that asking them to post to social media is “extra work”. That may have been true in years past, but nothing is further from the truth today. Talent knows that building their personal brand and increasing their future value relies on their popularity, and that popularity is easily measured in a public way on social media.

Talent is usually enthusiastic about receiving short-form media. They want to be the center of attention, and the more assets they have, the more they can build their audience and fan base. This is the rule, not the exception. The hard part for them is simply not having access to photos or videos that feature them. The studio or production team has media, the publicity team has media, the social team has media, but actors and talent (and their publicists and agents) usually don’t have any unless it’s a launch event. Talent might be able to ask or send a text, but they maybe don’t know who to ask, don’t want to ask, or can’t be bothered to ask.

If talent can get their hands on high-quality photos and video to show off their work, promote their next episode, display their vulnerability, or create more engagement with their fans, they generally will. Publishing unique content on a regular basis is engaging and grows their social media audience. Meanwhile, the networks, shows and studios get ‘free’ advertising for their programming. The talent’s activity helps create more fans and viewers. And, fans feel more connected to their favorite personalities. They feel like they have an inside scoop, they feel more included. When media is distributed to talent on a regular basis, everyone benefits.

By providing media to talent, entertainment marketers can get their message out to more people, organically and with the implicit endorsement of the actors, directors, celebrities and personalities who participated in a show or film’s creation.

Metrics back this up. The average Instagram engagement rate for talent is nearly 250% higher than that of the average television show. (Source: CrowdTangle, 2020). Social media is now so important that one recent manager at a production company estimated about half of casting jobs involve examination of the talent’s social media numbers.

“The question asked is, ‘What’s their Instagram handle and what are their social numbers?’” said Jason Newman, Manager and Producer at Untitled Entertainment. (Source)

But having talent with a strong social media presence is only as good as how the network or production company activates. Those that don’t distribute creative assets to talent are leaving money on the table, foregoing the value of reaching more fans.

Distributing Assets to Talent Is Mutually Beneficial

There can be an invisible wall (and sometimes visible wall of gatekeepers) prohibiting marketing teams from building and cultivating a direct relationship with talent. And that can make “requests” of any type difficult. But it’s the year of digital transformation. And this is an opportune time to speak with your entire marketing and communications department about sharing media with talent. Sending videos and photos to them or their reps is happening now, and if you’re not doing it your studio or network is going to get left behind.

It’s important to remember (and remind your team) that both sides want this to happen. Everyone wins when talent gets access to high-quality content that they can use freely. The show or movie gets authentic promotion to a wider audience and talent gets great content for their feed. Everything works better when the talent doesn’t feel like they’re doing a chore — it’s about want to vs. have to.

When talent can access creative assets on their terms, not having to give out their phone number or personal email, it makes the process of content exchange easier to kick off. And when talent has a consistent place to go to grab quality content to help fill their social feeds, it enhances relationships. Because they appreciate that valuable content provided for them by the network or studio. As long as a level of privacy, simplicity and flexibility is in place, the setup doesn’t have to be as challenging as many imagine. That’s why honing in on how assets are shared with talent is integral.

A collection of creative assets can be an album or folder or collection of media that the talent can access and use anytime.

distribute creative assets to talent to share
Pexels | Ketut Subiyanto

The Best Way To Share Digital Assets With Talent

There are two ways that talent reps, social media teams, or communications pros typically share videos with talent. Either as a collection of media, or as a one-off activity with one asset and specific instructions (a prescribed or suggested use). While not every situation is the same, the recommended option relates to the type of programming, the context of the media, and the talent’s experience level.

For unscripted shows, the method of a “suggested post” is generally the way to go. There are a few reasons for this, informed by experience working with dozens of networks and hundreds of talent.

First, unscripted shows involve talent that typically are less experienced than the talent that appears on scripted shows or films. Because of that, they feel more comfortable (and eager) when they receive creative assets with instructions on what to do with them. Also, unscripted shows may have less defined storylines for talent, so it’s helpful when they share the right video clips and message for the story. Because there’s no script, talent may not always know exactly which stories will be played up and which will not. While this may not be the case for all unscripted shows, carefully selected assets or curated collections tend to be what works best in sharing videos with talent on those shows.

For scripted shows, provided the right technology is in place, a collection of creative assets with some loose direction works well. (e.g., premiere or tune-in information). The talent on this more produced and premium content tend to be more established and do not need or want such handholding. Further, the storylines are clear (they’re scripted!) and the talent can select which assets they want to use based on what they know resonates with their fans and fit their own personal brands. Remember that their goal is the same as the goal for the communications and marketing teams — drive more fans of the show or film.

With a broad understanding of these two methods for sharing creative assets with talent, the next question is what type of assets to send to talent.

What Are the Best Creative Assets To Distribute to Talent?

No, there are no exact specs and file type to always use when sending photos and videos to talent. But it is important to think beyond the TV spot. It’s easy to package the same ad or trailer that runs across platforms and share that video with talent. And while that can be a fine option sometimes, it’s good to experiment with variety.

Think about all the content that’s created every day during production and will never end up in the actual show or movie. Consider all the potential creative assets – outtakes, clips, table reads, makeup and wardrobe, production meetings, stunts, and more that can be created and distributed to talent that will never make a final cut. There are production photos and behind-the-scenes photos that fans crave. Shows and movies, and all this ‘extra’ content, can be clipped in a variety of ways, too. Clipped for a shorter trailer, to highlight a funny line, to activate a meme, or create GIFs for fans and talent to use.

This type of content that may just be sitting in a Google Drive or Dropbox folder right now. Maybe it’s in a digital asset management system for storage. Either way, it’s being wasted because your audience isn’t ever going to see it.

The point of this exercise is to help you think about social media assets as part of the entire production — from beginning to end. It’s not just the final product and trailers. You can build hype about a project from day 1. And, certain content types work best for different platforms and audiences and also meet the differing preferences of the talent. That’s why optimizing the strategy of sharing creative assets with talent is paramount.

show creative asset distribution to talent
Pexels | Andrea Piacquadio

Optimize Creative Asset Distribution With Talent

There are a few factors to consider when making the sharing process efficient and manageable. If your goal is to increase the likelihood the talent actually uses those assets on their channels, and that their posts perform well, you’ll want to make this a consistent program.

First, know which type of asset is most suitable for the talent and their preferred networks. This means looking at their social profiles and documenting which platforms they prefer (Instagram posts, TikTok, Twitter, Instagram stories, etc.). You also need to know the tone and type of content that is going to be the most relevant for their fans. When talent can access photos and videos that have the right specs and tone, they’re more likely to use the assets and use them in the right place.

Good organization and a super-easy media distribution network are both essential when sending assets to talent. If more talent posts in more places means more value and reach, it behooves the talent relations teams to share more photos and videos with talent. BUT only if they’re organized, and the talent can locate the right creative assets for each platform. As the distribution workflow is built out, such organization is essential for success. But more creative assets sent can sometimes mean more guessing about what the talent actually wants. And sharing assets that the talent wants is a key piece of the optimization conversation.

It’s helpful when sending assets to talent to know if they actually use those assets. One can track all their social channels. But a more systematic way to track their downloading or sharing of creative assets is far better. This information helps confirm the value of the time spent in producing and sending the assets. Good two-way communication is also beneficial for optimizing asset distribution strategy. To have a way to break down the barriers between talent and communications is hugely beneficial. This allows talent to ask questions and even make asset requests.

Once your methodology for distribution of creative assets is in place, you’re ready to execute.

Leverage a Media Distribution Platform for Easy Asset Sharing

Creative assets are frequently exchanged in the everyday work of communications teams for networks and studios. But it doesn’t make sense to ask talent to get photos and videos via Slack messages, let alone emails or texts with links to Dropbox. All of these methods are hard to use and remember. They don’t make browsing media easy, and they don’t enable marketers to “suggest” any social posts. They don’t allow for group communication, and can expose the contact information of an entire show. They also don’t pass muster for simplicity, flexibility or privacy. Most of all, these tools just don’t scale. If you have hundreds of talent and thousands of assets, how do you remember where the newest are? How do you look for something from 2 weeks ago? File sharing isn’t the same as media sharing, and that’s going to make or break your program.

The biggest entertainment companies in the world use Greenfly because the platform does cover all of these bases. It was built from the ground up to distribute assets selectively and efficiently to groups of 2 or 2,000. Greenfly can share “guided posts” with assets for talent to posts on social media in just a few clicks. The software platform can also provide unlimited photo and video galleries to talent. These galleries are like having an unlimited camera roll on every talent’s mobile phone. Galleries can be organized by person, episode, event, or even social platform, to ensure the talent can easily find what they want at any time.

Greenfly is also extremely helpful for the social media team that’s managing creative asset distribution. It allows staff to schedule asset shares and post requests in advance, and provides built-in messaging. It even enables teams to plug into cloud storage systems like Dropbox and Google Drive, or into digital asset management platforms. Its automated distribution engine can even eliminate manual organization or intervention – once assets are approved, they can get routed directly to galleries, and talent will be automatically notified on their mobile device that new content is available.

Align Marketing Strategy With Asset Distribution to Talent

Running communications and marketing for a television show or movie can get pretty hectic. There is a heck of a lot to balance. There are premieres, finales, launches, events, PR opportunities, and the everyday routine of programming to promote. Here are some quick tips for distributing creative assets to talent for a set of scenarios:

  • Season or film premiere. Prior to the day of the premiere, send assets to talent with specific information to include. For example, providing info to drive tune-in and awareness, potentially with a guided social media post, can be helpful. While a general trailer and verbiage work okay, it’s even better when each is tweaked to feel personalized for the talent. They’ll be more likely to post it and their fans will receive it better on social media. It’s helpful here to have the technology to schedule out when videos and photos are shared with talent. That way, the premiere week isn’t filled with sending a bunch of emails and text messages.
  • Finales. It’s certainly good to share creative assets with talent that promote the final episode of the season, but this is also the time to ensure engagement continues beyond the finale. It’s valuable to send a collection of creative assets such as clips and photos that talent can have at their disposal at any time in the weeks ahead. Then they’ll be able to keep their followers engaged while maintaining fan affinity for the show.
  • Launches. Whether there’s a new show or film launching or even a new streaming service, that’s the time to embrace the collective power of all the talent. A coordinated effort led with consistent creative assets and messaging across the board can create a lot of buzz around the launch. A recent notable example came in summer 2020 when ESPN promoted the launch of The Last Dance — their five-week long Michael Jordan docuseries. By distributing the same video and messaging to all the network’s talent to post on social media, ESPN was able to promote to an enormous organic audience.
  • Events: There are red carpet events, awards shows, autograph signings and many more events that can be amplified when photos and videos are shared with talent. Leading up to an event, a guided social post (to ensure event details are included if needed) and a promotional asset is a good best practice. It makes sense to share a collection of photos and videos from the event afterward. This allows talent to select which they prefer and tell the story of the event in their own words. This amplification has a ton of value.
  • PR opportunities: The advice about activating around events applies also to PR appearances and interviews. If talent does an interview for a talk show, podcast or publication, that publicity can extend when creative assets are shared with talent. To promote the PR opportunity before, during and after. This may take the form of podcast or video clips, links to an article, or even some photos from the day of an appearance.
  • Cameos: Cameos in TV shows and movies are excellent opportunities to earn more media and reach for the program. As long as the actor making the cameo has easy access to creative assets. This may sound challenging, but the truth is that most of the one-time actors want to have a clip or photo from their appearance to post on social media. And there is technology to make that easy and comfortable for the talent. French premium TV network Canal+ does a good job of equipping actors and even directors that have a one-time relationship with the network with creative assets from the programs they work on.

TV networks, movie studios and distribution agencies are all sitting on a goldmine of free digital promotion leveraging the social media audiences of their talent. Deployed the right way, sharing assets with talent can deliver tremendous results. This activity amplifies the audience for the show or film and creates lasting fan connections with the talent and programs. For anyone not sharing photos and videos with talent, they’re missing out on a valuable opportunity.

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