Musings from the Moonroom

Thoughts on Art, Inspiration, Creativity and Spirit

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Tuesday’s Business-Press Releases

Last week, we discussed promoting yourself and presented various options for promoting oneself, including mailing lists, postcards, newsletters, web sites, blogs, and Flickr.  This week I’d like to focus on one form of promotion; the press release.

Press releases are great way to inexpensively get your name out in the public arena.  Inexpensive because there is typically no cost associated with submitting a press release to your local newspaper or community magazine.  And hard copy press releases are not your only option.  Press releases are now being posted online as well.

What is a Press Release

A press release is an announcement about you.  And what, you ask, could I possibly announce about myself? Consider these possibilities: nomination for an award, winning an award, donating to local causes, anything that ties into the local community or organization (example: a presentation at the library), debuting a new line of work, inspiration for your work and teaching.

Though show announcements are not technically considered press releases (they typically fall under the calendar/event announcement), you can tie the new line of work or inspiration to a show you’re participating in.

Rules of Thumb

According to Joan Stewart of Publicity Hound, the old rule of limiting your press release to one page is no longer the standard.  Joan advises that press releases can contain up to 500 words. The content of the press release contains what we all learned in English class: who, what, when, where, and how and maybe why.  Other considerations include:

  • who your key audience is and do you have more than one audience (which may mean multiple press releases)
  • what is your key message
  • what do you hope to accomplish with the release
  • what do I want to tell readers to do, and
  • do you want to obtain the reader’s contact information.

Parts of a Press Release

There are several parts to a press release:

  • Contact information-this is where you include your name, phone numbers, email address and web site; also your city/town and state if submitting to outside your local area
  • Headline or subject line-that is, the title of your press release.
  • Sub-head-a one sentence summary of the press release
  • Body-the content of your press release; remember the who, what, where, when, how, and maybe why information
  • Links if appropriate
  • Note to editors (optional)
  • Photos (optional)

Calendar Listings

Calendar listings follow a very simple format

  • Contact information
  • What
  • When
  • Where
  • Who
  • Cost (if applicable)
  • How (e.g. registration)

Where to Send It

Now that you’ve put together your press release, you might be wondering where to send it.  Here are some ideas:

  • local newspaper
  • regional newspaper
  • local art associations
  • show promoters
  • magazines
  • local galleries (especially those who have supported you)
  • customers

Don’t be disappointed if your press release does not appear in the local newspaper or magazine straight away.  I’ve experienced submitting a press release that did not get published immediately, but then received a request for an interview a month or two later.  On the other hand, I’ve submitted calendar event listings that have garnered interviews.  What is important is that you continue to promote yourself using all available and appropriate options.

Do you have a press release story you’d like to share?


Tuesday’s Business: Promoting Yourself

Now that you’ve put together some of the components of your business plan, you have to think about how you’re going to promote yourself if you are not doing so already. How else will you reach your target market? Yes, promoting yourself can be scary, especially for us artists who tend to be introverted. But I can assure you that once you’ve promoted yourself, each successive one gets easier.

So acknowledge the butterflies in your stomach, don’t run and hide, and give it a try.

The Portfolio

In terms of promoting yourself, the portfolio refers to all those items you currently use to promote yourself. This might include letterhead, business cards, an artist statement, a resume, a biography, images of your work, brochures or spec sheets, a web site, blog, or Flickr site, and a cohesive body of work.

Considering the above list, what items do you currently use to promote yourself? Are there items in this list that you haven’t considered? For those items that you do use, how do you use them?

Do you carry business cards with you at all times? Do you take pictures of new work as soon as it is completed and upload it to your web site or blog or Flickr site? Do you send announcements to your mailing list on your new work?

One of the big considerations when promoting yourself is consistency in design and information. This includes developing a logo, if desired, and using the same font across all your promotional materials. Consistency gives you a cohesive look.

Choose a font that is legible and not too funky. Keep in mind that what might look groovy in print may not translate well when viewed on screen (and vice versa.) Keep in mind too who your target market is; radical or grungy or cutting edge promotional materials may go over well with urban customers/collectors but not suburban or rural customers/collectors. Think about your body of work. Is there a font that captures or compliments the essence of the body of work.

Once you’ve decided upon a consistent look for your promotional materials, remember to update them on a regular basis. You want to be prepared for those dream opportunities.

Name Recognition

Another aspect to promoting yourself is building name recognition. The idea here is that the more people relate to you, the more they will be interested in your art. So how does one build name recognition?

The simplest way is that customer mailing list. Start one if you haven’t already and if you do have one remember to update it regularly. Now I admit this is one of my weak areas. I have a customer mailing list, but I typically use it only to promote shows. And with the fluctuating economy, I’m doing fewer and fewer shows. So where does that leave my customer mailing list…other than collecting virtual dust?

Recently I put together a new product announcement in Word, converted it into a PDF, and emailed it to several gallery customers. To my pleasant surprise it garnered one new order. Mailing lists can work for you because it keeps your name and work in front of the customer/collector. Again the key here is consistency and finding an acceptable frequency. This could range from monthly to quarterly, depending on how prolific you are in creating your art.

Think about how you can use your mailing list other than show or open studio announcements. Do you have upcoming exhibit? Perhaps you recently received recognition or an award? Has a trip or book influenced your work? These are all bits of information you can share with people on your mailing list via email announcements or postcards.

Other ways to build name recognition is to join community art groups, teach, provide demonstrations, blog, write articles and put together short videos. And don’t forget press releases.

Promotional Goals

In our Art Salon, Alyson Stanfield provided the following list of promotional goals for artists to consider. Choose the ones that are most applicable to you.

Creating a mailing list
Send out mailings
Develop a newsletter
Meeting influential people
Writing articles about your work
Exhibition entries
Grant applications
Teaching and/or demonstrations
Public talks
Open studios
Gallery representation
Web site

And I’ll add:

Squidoo lens
Informative videos
Local cable access program

As artists in the 21st century, we have many exciting and challenging options when it comes to promoting ourselves. You may have to try a few before finding one that works well. And keep in mind that multiple formats of promotion are better than one. Think out of the box and get creative.