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I’m from the generation which grew up when Stan Lee was THE face of comics. I don’t think he had been editor at Marvel for a while, but he did voiceovers for video games and it was a big deal when he turned up in Mallrats. There’s some lingering resentment amongst Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko fans that the PR guy got all the PR and more than his fair share of the money, but count no man without his faults. Stan Lee is still out there in his 90s being vocally enthusiastic about comics as a medium, meeting people and signing stugg, hanging out on set in the movies and doing little cameos. I can admire that, it’s like he’s checking in on the grandkids.

 

Vote for Neko the Kitty on TopWebComics!

 

Moving on to the academic stuff, we’re on to the Public Relations section of our Digital Marketing Plan Template. This has the suggested sub-headings ‘Press Releases’ and ‘Webinars’. Webinars might not be the most relevant at this point in time, but don’t be intimidated by how official ‘Press Releases’ sounds.

There are a number of media surrounding webcomics. Blog sites and podcasts that discuss the craft of comics or offer critiques or recommendations. A press release is just writing to one of these trying to get a mention and/or a link from these sources. This is different to writing in forums, which are more private, or your own site where people are already reading and presumably enjoying your work.

If it’s a news site you’ve got to wait until you have some actual news, like you’re running a Kickstarter or are publishing a book, then you can send a little write-up to whoever and hope they turn it into an article or talk about it in their show for a little while. If it’s a review site you can ask for a review, there’s always contact information on the site and they expect it. Give a two-line synopsis and a sample strip with a link to your landing page and that’s it. This is different to asking for critiques in forums, where it’s more about honing your craft and isn’t necessarily a PR exercise, which you should definitely do a couple of times before sending it off to a critic to be criticized. There’s a difference between critique and criticism, and it’s really worthwhile to learn it early on so you can keep getting critiques because you’re nice about them.

When you’re asking for a mention, it’s kind of common courtesy to put a link on your site to the site you’re asking. Say I’m courting the Webcomics Alliance (@webcomic_alli) or Awesome Comics Podcast (@theawesomepod), I’ll point them out as good resources for comics and let audience intersection do its thing. I like Spider Forest as an artist community myself but there are no shortage of online spaces for comic artists and spending time in them will strengthen your online presence while not directly extending its reach by very much.

If enough people visit someone else’s site from your domain that you show up in their analytics as a traffic source, then you’ve got part of their audience, and they’ll be interested when you have something to say.

Make sure you have something to say, mind.

A press release isn’t the same thing as a blog announcement, which is ordinarily only visible to people on your actual site and can be about whatever you want because these people already care. You can send out blog announcements as press releases with fairly little re-wording if you only want to write one thing, as long as it’s about something that might be of interest to people who aren’t existing readers of your comic.

If you just want to send out a one-time elevator pitch going “Hey! I’ve got this comic that exists! It’s about a cat!” then you can do that once and there are certain podcasts that actively call for it, but just be aware of who you’re contacting, you don’t want to spam people, especially not with the same message.

Bear in mind that some of the less tightly-edited news sites might be republishing your notice almost word-for-word, so keep it to the point and don’t go too wacky with the writing style when you’re sending stuff out. You want your writing to have character, but it should be a character others would want to hang out with.

 

The other suggested subheading is ‘Webinars’, which isn’t precisely the kind of content I’m going for. Webinars are typically videos where someone is trying to teach about a subject, and are commonly broadcast live. Site engagement hasn’t really picked up at this point so I don’t know how much people are engaging with the marketing talk. If any of you are interested in a video conference where we can talk about marketing let me know in the comments below and I’m sure we can all work something out.

I’ve been meaning to record my drawing process as a video for Patreon too. I like watching artists work so that’s something people might want. This is an audience engagement activity that I’m going to have to work out how to do and why I’d be doing it, so I’m going to set my metrics as mentions and retweets and come back to that one a bit later.