PR: What Not to Do: Brag About Limited Distribution

I appreciate the attempt to make lemonade, but when I get a press release that starts off by saying “we’re only carried by three comic shops!” my first thought is “how bad were your sales that Diamond dropped you?” Now, I don’t know that’s what happened here, but a good press release shouldn’t raise questions it doesn’t want to answer. Here’s the excerpt:

FLARE #40 is coming hot off the presses! And if you’re not lucky enough to shop at Lone Star Comics in Texas, or at Minneapolis’s Comic Book College, or at Limited Edition Comics in Cedar Falls, Iowa, there’s only one way you’re going to be able to get your hands on this brand-new issue. Visit the Heroic Publishing website, and order your copy of FLARE #40 today! Retailers, too, can place discounted bulk orders for FLARE #40, as well as for the entire range of Heroic Publishing titles, by registering for an account with the Heroic Distribution webservice.

… Copies of this special issue of FLARE are not being distributed through normal comic book distribution channels. FLARE #40 is available only through select retailers, and by special order from the Heroic Publishing website.

Flare 2012 promotional image

At least, if you’re going to announce it, say *why* you’re not selling elsewhere in the release. After reading it, I’m not clear on why this is a special issue, anyway.

This announcement reminds me of the strategy Bob Layton’s Future Comics tried. They made a big deal out of trying to cut out the middleman of Diamond Distribution, but that only lasted for six months’ worth of issues before they realized that most comic shops and customers don’t want to buy direct. (Future then signed with Diamond and went out of business a year later.)

I know, if you’re in the situation where customers have to buy direct, then you have to try and get the word out by spinning whatever “news” you can to draw attention. But this “buy only from us” strategy most often leads to a declining spiral of sales, as fewer buyers are aware of your comic, leading to fewer purchases. The press release continues, claiming great things for their title heroine:

It was FLARE who redefined the way costumed heroines are treated in mainstream comics. It was FLARE who proved that a strong, independent female character can carry a solo title all on her own.

Funny, I would think that “honor” belongs to Wonder Woman, but what do I know? I look at the promotional image sent with this PR (shown here), and all I think is “It was FLARE who showed you how important it is that a female character have a good waxer.” I don’t want to ponder that when buying comics, thanks.

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