Part 1, PR & Marketing
Press releases, media relations, and
basic online promotion
What to expect:
Basic Marketing Theory
Basic Online Promotion
The Details of a Successful Press Release
The Elephant in the Room
I shouldn’t need to ‘market’ my art!
The act of selling art is business; therefore, by
definition, marketing and promotion are
necessary to make that business successful.
What exactly is marketing?
Many people think “marketing” is an activity—mailing a
flyer, printing a poster, placing an advertisement.
Marketing is actually the decision-making process you
use to determine the best way to persuade your
-From ArtsMarketing.org FAQs (Americans for the Arts)
Basic Marketing Principles
Marketing explores relationship between your customers and
your product, taking into account your competition and other
factors (such as the economy) that affect how your audience
makes purchasing choices.
Marketing tells you what your customers like and dislike,
want and need. Then you decide how to adjust your
product, price, place, and promotional message (the “4
Ps of Marketing”), as well as public service initiatives,
positioning, and branding, to better draw your customers.
For visual & performing arts…
Two distinct groups of consumers (differing motivations, numbers, knowledge,
Casual attendees: numerous, less interested in the art form per se, and
more likely to be attracted to more traditional fare.
Aficionados: enthusiastic fans of the arts; small and select group who are
likely to be knowledgeable and interested in a diverse array of content and
the aesthetics of the art experience.
Kevin F. Mccarthy, Arthur Brooks, Julia Lowell, Laura Zakaras
The Performing Arts in a New Era
How do I start marketing myself or my
Start with the big picture—defining your goal (brand).
(What are your priorities?)
What are your core values?
What is unique about your or your organization that attracts
patrons/customers and keeps them coming back?
Define your market.
What does that tell you about who you should be marketing
to and what you should be saying?
Start by asking your customers (as well as
friends and colleagues) what they like and
dislike— what makes you or your organization
Understanding how people (customers)
connect with your art will help you develop a
marketing strategy to attract bigger
Interesting trend to note:
Increasing premium on consumption flexibility:
Art forms are favored which allow audience to determine what they
consume, when they consume, and how they consume it—
“consumption by appointment.” (Media consumption dominates
attendance because it is more amenable to the individual's schedule.)
Art forms which allow individuals to decide exactly what and how much
they consume will be more popular than those that do not.
(Consistent with trends in live attendance from 1982-1997 in different disciplines. Rate of growth of
art museum attendance outstripped that of all the performing arts throughout this period.)
What drives people to buy art?
What drives people to purchase tickets?
What makes people value your work?
How willing are you to diverge from traditional
systems for presenting work?
(hybrid markets: online, nontraditional spaces, etc.)
Cultural Capital & Scarcity Economics:
Social wealth symbolized in art and cultural acquisitions.
Context and perception is everything. (Or is it?)
Symbolic capital: wealth, prestige, social class ownership.
Economics of Scarcity: the rare and unique; high demand
and finite supply.
Prices: "To ask if something is worth the price is to ask if it is
worth the other things for the same price."
"Economics of disavowal": Art business succeeds (like
academia) by pretending not to be doing what it is doing.
-Matt Irvine, Georgetown University
So what does this have to do with me?
The moral of the story is:
Know your audience.
Know what they like about you or your product.
Shape your marketing strategy with these things in
mind (product, price, place, promotional message,
public service initiatives, positioning, and branding).
These ideas are important in determining how to
shape your “story” or pitch to the media…
Basic Online Tools &
Promoting your work & organization
Collect emails & manage a contact list strictly for your art?
(Not just your personal email or physical address book!)
How often do you contact your list?
When do you email your list to announce events? Is it far enough in
Are your lists permission-based?
Are you utilizing every opportunity to collect emails? (Art markets, guest
books for ALL events, from online ticket sales)
Are you updating your list for accuracy?
Are you tracking click-throughs (via tools like Constant Contact)?
Do you have separate, targeted lists for specialized blasts?
If not utilizing email marketing services, DO NOT send out mass emails
without utilizing the blind-copy feature!
Maintain a website
If the answer is no, it is fairly
easy to create a blog by utilizing
tools like Wordpress and
*Spacetaker is working on a customizable
portfolio template for artists. Stay tuned…
Maintain a Facebook
Find the crowds where
they already exists.
Do you utilize Youtube or
Flickr to upload examples
of your work?
…to reach new
audiences on their
Strengthen your presence on the web…
Search Engine Optimization for Dummies
Utilize free Google Webmaster Tools:
Utilize Google Analytics
Utilize a blog that allows you to track traffic,
When promoting shows, openings, & events…
Find people where they already are!
Send info to online resources at least 2-3 weeks in advance & pay close
attention to submission instructions on website)
Good Resources for General Event Promotion:
Houston Press Calendar (http://www.houstonpress.com/feedback/SubmitAnEvent)
City Search (www.houston.citysearch.com
Greater Houston Convention & Visitors Bureau (www.visithoustontexas.com)
29º95º (www.29-95.com; Links to suggest an event or suggest a local artist to be
Houstonist (Tip Line or email Brittanie Shey at email@example.com)
Culture Map (Email firstname.lastname@example.org)
Sites that focus on Arts:
(Smaller audiences, but more targeted)
Spacetaker (Website, Newsletter, & Blog; www.spacetaker.org/submit/?
ArtsHound (Houston Arts Alliance Website & Newsletter;
KUHF Public Radio 88.7 Arts Calendar (www.kuhf.org; email
email@example.com attention Emily Binetti)
Arts Houston (www.artshouston.com ; www.artshouston.ning.com
Recommend posting to community section)
HYPA (Houston Young People for the Arts Newsletter & Blog
www.houstonarts.org; Email Heather Pray at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Art Info (www.Artinfo.com; Not local- based in NYC)
Be mindful of overlap. These sites will oftentimes post your event if it includes
elements of the discipline (for example, dance or theatre included in theatre
Art Valet (post your events at: http://www.artvalet.com/event_request.php)
Glasstire (Email email@example.com; Instructions on website)
Art Blogs: (Contact Rachel Hooper for www.waxbythefire.wordpress.com & email Sean Carroll
firstname.lastname@example.org for www.seanmorrisseycarroll.blogspot.com)
Dance Houston (http://www.dancehouston.org/Event_Application.html)
Dance Source Houston (www.houstondance.org/DSH/ ; Dance Card listings for members)
The Music Card (www.houstonchambermusiccard.info ; Music Card listings for members)
Public Service Announcements
Nonprofits, utilize our friends in public radio!
10-15 seconds worth of information:
What, Where, When, Why, Where to get more info
KTRU Rice Radio: email Amber Raley at
KUHF 88.7: email Emily Binetti at
KPFT Pacifica: email Ernesto Aguilar San Miguel at
Allow at least 3 weeks lead time!
To be continued…
Effectively utilizing online resources and social
media involves strategy and planning.
We will explore these tools in greater depth in
Part 4 of Spacetaker’s Arts Marketing Series.
With Martin de Vore of
Houston Community Newspapers
Who do you target in Press & Media?
Start with Art Editor.
If no Art Editor, contact Feature Editor.
If no Feature Editor, contact Managing Editor.
Update your media list at least once a month. Best
way to do so is check website first, then pick up
phone & call. (Beware of calling understaffed media
So, you’ve submitted a release…
Submitting press releases do not guarantee
Gamble for better and larger coverage for free
versus paying for an ad.
Media Alerts vs. Press Releases
Media Alert is simply informing media sources
of upcoming event or happening without
much beyond who, what, when, and where.
Media Alerts are generally reserved for
special appearances by celebrities.
Press Releases provide more detailed
Challenges of writing publicity
Limited news hole- especially as newspapers
Alternative viewpoints possible
Write for many media; editors have different
Varying news value of items
How releases can be used:
As-is (generally limited to event listings &
routine, non-controversial news)
As source of information for a story written by
a reporter (can use facts, quotes, background
As the basis for an interview
Press Release Format
1-2 pages maximum (400-500 words)
Inverted pyramid format
Strong lead (5Ws&H: who, what, when,
where, why, how)
E-mail, double spaced, one side of sheet
-more- at bottom of pages; identifier (slug) on
-30- or ### at end.
Important Items to Include
Contact Name and Phone (Be available for follow-
Release time (Immediate release or embargo with
Dateline (If not local)
In 8-10 words or less, you need to grab the
attention of the editor.
The headline should summarize the information in
the press release, but in a way that is exciting and
Think of it as a billboard along a highway -- you
have just a few words to make your release stand
out among the many others editors receive on any
Sometimes called a summary lead, your first paragraph is
critical. This paragraph should explain "the five Ws and one
H" of the story -- the who, what, when, where, why, and
This paragraph must summarize the press release, with the
following paragraphs providing the detail.
Must contain the hook: the thing that gets your audience
interested in reading more -- but remember that the hook
has to be relevant to your audience as well as to the news
media. (A hook is not a hard sell or a devious promotion --
it's just a factual statement.)
Using a strategy called the inverted pyramid,
the body of the press release should be
written with the most important information
and quotes first.
This inverted pyramid technique is used so
that if editors need to cut the story to fit space
constraints, they can cut from the end without
losing critical information.
The Closing Paragraph
Repeat the critical contact information,
including your media contact info, his or her
phone number and/or email address.
Include comprehensive contact information:
website address, blog address, etc.
No news of interest to editor (usually a
Leads with wrong focus, wordy
Missing information; fail to anticipate basic
Excessive commercialism (self-laudatory,
Lacks strong angle (Remember key elements
of news: Prominence, Drama, Human Interest,
Localness, Consequence, Oddity, Topical)
Make your key points near top (first or second paragraph).
Be sure to include standard (ideal) description of
Avoid overstatement; beware of claims as first, only, unique.
Use quotes to incorporate opinion, subjective ideas, explain
rationale for actions.
Avoid trite quotes, purge clichés.
Cite the most appropriate spokesperson.
In case of bad news, stress actions being taken to rectify.
Write like a pro!
Use clear, concise, vivid language.
Sentences and paragraphs should be short and to
Utilizing AP Style limits the need for editing and
increases your chances for inclusion.
Check for proper grammar, spelling, punctuation .
Provide neat, clean copy.
Distribute on a timely basis; meet deadlines.
Write for the audience, not the client.
Proof, proof, proof!
Don’t treat your press releases like advertising!
(Media outlets want to SELL advertising- therefore,
you need a special angle or hook.)
Don’t barrage the press with 5 pages. Treat press
releases & media alerts as teasers.
Don’t send a mass mailing to media contacts. (Blind
copying is acceptable, but personalizing is ideal.)
Don’t send the release as a PDF (making it more
difficult to copy, paste, & edit).
Don’t send embedded images.
Do focus on any benefit angles.
Do leave some interesting info out of release- so that you
can add it while following up with phone call (Example
VIP guests, ticket giveaways, receptions, etc.)
Do personalize your message for each media contact
Do know the proper media contact (Be respectful of
Do send releases and alerts as simple text documents
Do consider consulting the AP Stylebook for stylistic and
Send weekly repeatedly leading up to big
Possible Pitfall: Beware that, if release is sent
early, it could be picked up 4 weeks before
ideal time… and not run again.
Avoid Gray Areas!
Print media doesn't like "gray" pages - pages of only text.
Every release should have accompanying photos & artwork.
Have at least eight images of yourself and your work that
you can send out at a moment's notice:
• Two "mugs" of the artist's face: One looking straight at the
camera; one facing the camera at a slight angle.
• Two "action" shots: One vertical and one horizontal of the
artist at work.
• Four images of artwork: Two horizontal and two vertical.
Aim for high quality!
Print media requires large, high resolution images. Photos
that look fine on the Web at low resolution will degrade in
• 300dpi (dots per inch) resolution
• 800 pixels (4 inches) in width
• Color image
• JPEG format
• NO text on the images - dates, captions, watermarks, etc.
If you can provide print-ready images to the publication, you
have a substantially greater chance of getting press
coverage than those who don't.
Show, for Show
If someone at a publication receives press
releases about several events, including
YOUR event, they will most likely use the
release that has the best accompanying art.
Photographers to document work or performances…
Spacetaker’s ARC Services include photo
documentation— at a reasonable rate for the
general public and at a discount for Artist Members.
Photographer: Anthony Rathbun
TUESDAYS: May 12 and 26, June 2 3-6:30 p.m. at
Small tokens to get attention or stand out (Keep in
small, inexpensive, & pertinent to event; I.e. Mardi
Gras masks for a themed party)
Personalized invitations to media created by artist
(Paint an invitation!)
Target specific groups with invited previews: -
- Invite popular bloggers to attend reception or
- Invite Flickr groups to photograph dress rehearsals
(Opera in the Heights)
And special thanks to Martin de Vore (Houston
Community Newspapers), Mitch Cohen (Art Valet & 1st
Saturday Arts Market), Lindsay Peyton (Artist & PR),
Katie Laird (Schipul), Grace Rodriguez (AYN Brand),
and Nicole Haagenson (SagePR).