*Open Studio Visiting Creative, Linda Magid helps small businesses brand their products and services. She has designed marketing communication strategies for entrepreneurs with new business and managed publicity campaigns for film, music and jewelry companies. To read her complete Bio, click here
Get it – Shout it!
Your creative small business needs publicity for at least two reasons: the obvious is to tell your community that your business exists, but also to legitimize your business as an artist. If a newspaper covers you and your artwork with a story, then you must be real. As you gain a following, larger media outlets will get interested, increasing your visibility. But where do you begin?
It’s not necessary to hire an expensive PR firm to run a publicity campaign. You can get your art in front of the media yourself. Here are the five things you need in order to pull it off:
Online and paper publications are hungry for fresh content, and press releases bring the news to them. Business owners sometimes think that only big news is worth the effort or they send the same information again and again hoping that eventually someone will report on it. These are losing strategies.
Publicity companies send out as many new press releases as possible to keep their clients’ names in front of the press. To do that, they find news in their clients’ businesses. You need to do the same.
Possible reasons to send a press release:
- You finished a series of new work
- You hired an assistant
- You have a show opening
- Your work is being used in a class or in a book
- You’ve begun a new collaboration project
- You moved your art studio to a new location
- You are speaking to a group on an art-related topic.
- You are working with a new material or another form of art
Basically, if you can write a one page, double spaced press release about it, and you haven’t already alerted the media, it’s new news.
2. A Well-Written Press Release
A press release must make the reader interested in your story. Use a forward, direct style of writing – this is not the time to stand out with poetry. A press release must be only one page, double-spaced and should sound exciting without being complicated. Make it easy for the reporter to get interested and want to learn more about you.
- The first paragraph tells your news in brief. Get to the point as quickly as possible. It can be one sentence if needed.
- The second and third paragraphs are where you get to the meat of the news: who is involved, the dates of an event, what people can expect. Use happy, excited language. This is where you shamelessly promote yourself. Do not be shy.
- The last paragraph gives basic information (e.g.: the address of the art show venue) and who to contact for more information.
A press release cannot be longer than one page, double-spaced. It should sound exciting without being complicated. Make it easy for the reporter to get interested and want to learn more about you.
3. A Contact List
Your list of contacts includes reporters of both online and paper news media, including your local weekly papers. Make sure you have correct, updated contact information for each of them. Calling is faster for paper news because you can ask the switchboard operator about who covers the arts; an email will likely go unanswered. With online media, contact information on their website should be correct
Once confirmed, put your contacts in a well-organized spreadsheet. Here is an example:
The column “new studio” represents your press release topic. This assumes that you will continue to create publicity campaigns over time. Add new campaign columns to the left of the last campaign so that the most recent campaign is in view immediately.
Reporters get press releases every day so don’t expect to hear from them. Always follow up with a quick phone call – give yourself 3 minutes per contact. (Don’t bother with an email.) If you don’t reach the reporter, call back without leaving a message. If you do reach the reporter, make the conversation brief. Be friendly but direct. Ask if she read your press release, ask if she is interested in covering your story. The easier you are to work with, the more likely reporters will want to work with you.
An additional tip: A pleasant demeanor counts. Don’t make your calls if you are in a bad mood.
Keep track of published articles, blurbs, and photos. You might not be told that your story was covered so about a week after you send out a press releases, Google yourself. You will also need to watch for an article even if the writer says you will get a story because they won’t necessarily tell you when it was published.
When you have a new write up, record it in two ways:
- Save online pages as a file (the ‘File’ drop down menu has a ‘Save As’ option). Put all of the files in one place.
- Keep a list of the links on one document.
This might seem redundant, but sometimes you will need a link and sometimes you will need a file. If you have a website, add a press page once you have a few “clips.” You can use the page as self-promotion and as a publicity library for your own needs.
In addition to your Press File, get your press OUT THERE! Tweet and Facebook it. Post it on LinkedIn and blog about it. Send it in your monthly newsletter, whatever it takes to share the joy! Your clients and fans will be happy you shared this accomplishment with them and they will share the link, getting your more exposure.
Bonus: Once you are published, send a hand written thank-you note.
Unlike emails, which are often deleted unread, people open a hand-addressed envelope. Plus, the reporter gets a note signed by an artist. Who knows – your signature might be worth a lot of money someday.
Free Media List Sources (video)
*Have you begun your publicity campaign? Did you find this article helpful? What tools/tips can you add to help the other Open Studio Creatives? Leave a comment below!
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