PR Power Hour: Madagascar Film & Photography

September 4, 2021

Recently, my PR Power Hours went global as I dialled into a session with Chris Scarffe, the founder of Madagascar Film & Photography. We crammed lots into our 60-minute session and Chris was kind enough to allow you a glimpse into our session.

It’s a shame that I use as few pictures as possible on my website (to keep the environmental impact down) because I could have packed this blog with stunning photography. But, even so, we had a really interesting chat that I hope you’ll enjoy…

Meet Madagascar Film & Photography  

Madagascar Film & Photography is Madagascar’s premier film and photography company, dedicated to providing high quality imagery and a full range of film and photographic services. Chris is a British multi award-winning filmmaker and photographer with over 15 years’ experience. He’s travelled to some of the world’s remotest and most dangerous places for clients such as the BBC, PBS, The Discovery Channel, Blue Ventures and Save Our Seas. Along the way, he’s documented the best of what mother nature has to offer and the threats facing our planet.

Chris works closely with his friend and right-hand-man Michel “Goff” Strogoff: a Malagasy photographer and filmmaker best known for his conservation and wildlife photography. Growing up, Goff was part of the semi-nomadic fishing people known as the Vezo and spent countless hours fishing on the Madagascar’s west coast. In 2009, he started working with marine conservation NGO, Blue Ventures, to help local communities better manage their marine resources.

Despite only turning his hand to photography recently, Goff has been selected to join the prestigious Explorers Clubs inaugural 50 Club and was chosen to be a judge on the United Nations 2021 World Oceans Day Photography Competition. A talented photographer, fixer and camera operator, Goff – like Chris – has an impressive portfolio, having worked with organisations including the BBC, Blue Ventures, the Durrell Conservation Trust and the Thomson Reuters Foundation. Ever since meeting in 2014, Goff and Chris have worked together and been fast friends.

There’s lots more impressive stuff I could tell you about Madagascar Film & Photography but you’re here to find out more about our PR Power Hour so let’s jump into our recap…

Where Chris needed guidance

Chris has recently launched Madagascar Film & Photography and wants to start building the company’s profile in the press. He already works with some impressive NGOs and broadcast production companies but he wants to be the go-to when people need film and photography support in Madagascar.

But he’s got a lot of things to do and limited time (sound familiar, fellow business owners?!) so wanted to work out how he can best manage his media outreach while juggling everything else to do with the business. He also wanted to get a bit of clarity into which types of media he should be approaching in order to get in front of his target audience and raise awareness of his conservation campaigns.

What we love

Where do I start?! With many brands often struggling to find – or altogether overlooking – high-quality imagery and footage, Chris’ fantastic shots are like gold dust to the media. Not to mention that he’s an expert in aerial and underwater shots. What’s more, look past the amazing pictures (if you can tear your eyes away) and there are some really strong stories behind Madagascar Film & Photography. Importantly, Chris has a nose for a good story and already has a solid understanding of which elements of his business might be interesting to journalists: e.g. Goff’s journey from fisherman to conservationist, the history behind Goff and Chris’ close bond and an exciting upcoming expedition across Madagascar.

All the elements are there, he just needs the direction and time to build up those press contacts even further (did I mention he’s already had some fantastic coverage?). I can’t wait to see him featured in even more publications very soon.

A sneak peek into our discussion

Chris and I crammed a lot into our 60-minute session so it would be hard to share it all. To give you a taster, here are a couple of the things we ran through.

There are so many potential stories and titles I could target. How do I prioritise when I have limited capacity for PR?

This is a great question – and a common one! Lots of small business owners don’t have the time or funds to hire PR agencies or consultants. And they’re busy running their business. So finding the time for promotion is tough. I fully understand this. As a PR professional, I often find my promotion going to the end of my to do list so I can focus on clients!

We talked about how Chris could weave PR activities into his business plan in a manageable way. I recommend that he take a look at his calendar for the next six months (or so) and block out small chunks of time to dedicate to PR and media relations. There will be a couple of things to consider:

  • When might the business’ activities create a timely media hook? (e.g. launches, trips, opportunities to capture exclusive new photos etc.)
  • What awareness days are coming up that could give a reason for the press to talk about him? Unfortunately, we’ve just missed Whale Shark Day but there are plenty more relevant days in the calendar…
  • Are there any times when Chris and the team are likely to be a bit less busy? There’s no point trying to cram something into your diary if you know you won’t have time!

While talking about this, we also mentioned that print publications often have long lead times. The monthlies can work six months in advance! So, this is worth bearing in mind and, if it’s a challenge to plan that far ahead, stick to targeting online titles.

How do I find the right targets?

Chris has quite a wide potential audience. He’s looking to raise awareness of his company among TV production companies, NGOs and the general public in the UK, USA, South Africa and Madagascar.

So, firstly, we talked about starting with just a few key publications and growing from there (sound familiar? This is something Ducky Zebra raised too).

We also chatted through key publications read by his conservation-minded audience. The scuba diving press, of course, for his underwater pictures. Plus, adventure travel and eco magazines. These titles love to hear stories of intrepid adventurers doing good, such as Chris and Goff.

Of course, the local press will also be interested in what the company for conservation and communities in Madagascar. And, more widely, the image-led nature of these stories opens Madagascar Film & Photography up to picture editors of mainstream publications. No wonder Chris has been scratching his head re. where to start with so many options!

We also ran through the publicity generated by a couple of high-profile photographers Chris admires. This is a great way of getting an idea of the type of publications and angles that might work. But we’re going to keep those specifics to ourselves for now… 😉

A word from Chris

“The Power Hour with Mel was tremendously useful. It really helped to give me focus and to learn how to best use my limited time to promote Madagascar Film & Photography. We covered a huge amount in only one hour. Mel was not only incredibly knowledgeable about the subject but she had obviously spent considerable time researching my own business and that of similar companies in the same field. I would thoroughly recommend using her services and she was a pleasure to work with.”

Thank you Chris – I’m so glad you found the session useful and hopefully we might work together again one day.

Thank you

Thanks to Chris from Madagascar Film & Photography for being so engaged during our chat and letting y’all eavesdrop into a bit of our conversation. No doubt, you’ll be seeing his stunning wildlife photography in the newsstands (or on your TV) soon. And if you need an expert photographer and filmmaker in Madagascar, you know where to go!

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Please be aware, I do not work with the fossil fuel industry or PR agencies that retain fossil fuel clients.

If that's you, please look for support elsewhere. Thank you.