Make Some News

Jennifer King

Marketing your fine art is a bit of a numbers game, isn’t it? The more often you can get your name and work in front of the public’s eyes, the better your chances of connecting with people who want to support you in achieving your artistic goals.

One great way to gain some exposure for your artwork—for free!—is through publicity in local media. Every time something important happens in your art career, it’s news, and that means you’ve got a solid reason to go after that publicity. Opportunities for publicity can arise before a big event, such as when you’re preparing to participate in an upcoming fine art exhibition or planning to give a workshop or lecture on art. They can also occur right when something happens, like when you win a big award from a prestigious art organization, land a significant commission, donate a work of art to a local charity, or publish a book about your art.

Naturally, you’ll stand a better chance of getting media publicity if you follow some valuable guidelines, including the following:

  1. Follow the proper Press Release format.Great news here. There’s a standard format for Press Releases, so it’s easy to learn the right format. This link to an entrepreneurial website offers a slew of great examples for you to study and copy. Pay close attention to the examples involving announcements of upcoming events and award winners. Not only will you see how to format the Press Release, you’ll get some great ideas on what to write.
  2. Write for the benefit of the intended audience.The headline should focus on why this is of interest to the reader/listener/viewer, and the first paragraph should get right to the who, what, why, and when of the big event. Again, study these examples to see how the first paragraph is front-loaded with the most important points of the story, while the remaining paragraphs fill in the extra details.
  3. Cover all your bases.Who can you send a Press Release to when you’re seeking publicity for your art? There are so many options, and you’ll want to go after them all! Start by going online and looking up all of your local news media outlets, TV stations, and radio stations, and track down the arts or features editor or producer for each one. If your community is large enough to support a local magazine, there’s another great choice. And if you’re really lucky, there may even be a blogger out there who is focusing on local events or the local art scene. It takes a little effort to track down the name and e-mail address (or snail mail address) of each appropriate media contact, so I recommend maintaining a list of contacts so that you don't have to do all this research every time you need them.
  4. Include one or two jpegs.Your story is more likely to be featured in print if you include a hi-res jpeg related to the story. It could just be your standard art-bio photo, or it might be an image of the artwork that won the award or will be featured in the upcoming art exhibit. Or send both.
  1. Time it right.If you’re seeking publicity for an art event coming up in the future, you want to inform the media way in advance, as in seven or eight weeks before the event. On the other hand, if you’re announcing news that has just happened, you need to get your Press Releases out immediately (within 48 hours) while the news is still fresh
  2. Follow up.Editors and producers are busy people and will rarely answer a follow-up phone call, but it’s not a bad idea to follow up by e-mail. For an upcoming event, contact the recipient two or three weeks after your initial contact. With news that’s just happened, if you don’t hear from the editor or producer within the first week, it’s okay to follow up then.

Gaining exposure through publicity in local media requires persistence. You won’t always land a story, but you won’t ever get any exposure for your fine art if you don’t try. You can make the process easier on yourself by keeping a couple of boilerplate Press Releases at the ready, along with your current list of media contacts, so that most of the legwork is already done whenever you need to contact the media.

As always, I’d love to hear from any of you artists who’ve used Press Releases to gain some free publicity. Any secrets to share? Let’s connect!

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