updated 1/25/2007 5:50:44 PM ET 2007-01-25T22:50:44

Inspired to try to get your product or service some free publicity? Here are a few quick steps you can follow that just may get your product or service a supporting role in a movie or television show:

1. Put on your brainstorming cap.
What type of show or movie would you like to see your business in? When attempting to reach your target market, you really need to think about the types of programming they're most likely to watch. If you’re marketing lipstick to teenagers, for instance, approaching teen-oriented sitcoms would be smart. If your product is aimed at stay-at-home moms, you might want to consider everything from soap operas to daytime talk shows.

If you don’t care about reaching the audience as much as building credibility among the general public, then think about the characters on the programs who might conceivably use your business or service. The important thing is to stay away from thinking about your own personal favorite programs and instead think about what’s a good fit for your product. Put yourself in the shoes of the producer or business development person. If you can honestly envision your product being a help to their show, then that show is probably one you should approach.

2. Once you have your list, start looking for contacts.
There are a few ways to get the information you need. If it's a TV show you're interested in, try searching the end credits of the show to find out who the show's producer is. A little internet searching should turn up the production company's contact information. Or you can go directly to the search engines to find the show's site where you'll find the name and possibly the contact information for the production company. If it's not there, try searching directly for the website of the productions and start trolling for the appropriate name of someone who might want to see your media kit. One piece of advice: Be sure to approach several production companies--like cold calling, product placement success is a numbers game.

If it's movies you've got your heart set on, read the current editions of such trade magazines as Variety or Hollywood Reporter. Most issues include listings of the production companies currently working on projects, where you can at least get phone numbers and addresses, if not key names. You can also search the trade publications—or the Internet—to see what movies are currently in production or will begin soon. Both Variety and Hollywood Reporter offer a lot of invaluable information online for free; in some cases though, particularly with Hollywood Reporter, you may have to subscribe to get the information. Or you could try an old-fashioned but reliable approach and check out the publications at your local library.

3.Send a media kit.
Once you've located contact information for the companies you'd like to contact, mail them a media kit that includes a cover letter, photos and descriptions of your product or service and contact information so they can reach you if they're interested. Do not call anyone, unless it’s a receptionist to get the name of someone to send a letter to.

4.Don’t oversell.
Producers will either like what they see—or not. You aren’t going to talk them into anything.

5.Be careful about suggesting a scene that the producers might use your product in.
For instance, a good way to go about it might be “Since our doughnut shop is based in Chicago and "ER" is set in the same city, please keep us in mind.” Suggesting that Luka or Abby might want to share breakfast over doughnuts is also probably safe, but even that may be more details than the producers would care to hear. Deciding how to use your product is their business; bringing your product to their attention, in a low-key and professional way, is yours.

Copyright © 2013, Inc.


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