PR is often seen as the ‘dark art’ of the marketing mix - not quite traditional marketing, not quite social media. But at its core, good PR is about gaining maximum value from your brand without spending heaps of money, and there are a few really simple things you can do to boost your profile and presence for free.
Start to think of yourself as a ‘spokesperson’
As an independent artist, you are at the very centre of your brand. Start to treat yourself as such! If you don’t already have some, get some professional quality publicity photographs of yourself taken and start to think about what your ‘position’ is on news events in your industry and beyond. Jot down a quick list of ‘key messages’ for yourself - what are the most important things you’re communicating through your work, what do your customers absolutely need to know about you. Try to keep these short and snappy and include numbers wherever you can. One of the advantages of doing this is that even if you don’t manage to secure any ‘traditional’ press coverage, spending some time refining your key messages will pay dividends for your social media presence and other communications tools - you’re creating a ‘frame’ from which everything else should hang.
Research your local media
If you live in the UK, you are likely to have at least a large regional newspaper, a smaller local newspaper and a BBC local radio station in your area. Not to mention a growing number of online sources of news and arts and culture blogs. Spend some time researching these - it should be easy enough to find the email addresses of features or arts editors at the print titles and for local radio you’re looking for the name of a producer rather than a presenter. Always look for personal emails rather than generic ones, and if they’re not online, pick up the phone and ask - most regional media outlets still have central switchboards who are happy to give out email addresses.
Everything is a story
Once you’ve researched your local media, spend some time writing a short and concise ‘pitch’ email to each title - explaining what your story is and why it should be of interest to them. The fact that you are from the area, or have lived there for a long time, gives you an instant advantage as an interviewee, but bear in mind that you will have more success if you have ‘news’ of some sort - i.e - your work is being included in an exhibition or you have an exceptional or newsworthy story about a piece you’ve created. That said, under the right circumstances almost anything can be ‘news’ - never think that your story is too small, because chances are it isn’t. Local BBC radio stations are often also looking for good ‘talkers’ for regular interview slots they have - so even if your story isn’t of interest to them, you might be.
Persistance is key
PR rule number one: journalists never email back. Ever. Don’t assume that a lack of reply means that they’re not interested in your story. More likely, they have an inbox they’re struggling to keep up to - and they either have missed it altogether or have passed it onto one of their colleagues and can tell you the best person is to speak to if it isn’t them. A quick follow up phone call, no matter how daunting the thought might be, is much more often a positive experience than a negative one. And even if it's a ‘no’ this time, don’t stop trying.
You don’t need to write an essay
It can be helpful to write a press release if you feel you have a news story, but don’t get bogged down by this. Journalists typically don’t have time to read much more than a paragraph anyway, so if you feel you can say what you need to say in the body of an email then don’t waste your time writing anything longer.
Exploit your connections
Does your partner / friend / person you sit next to at work happen to have mentioned that they’re best friends with a journalist? Ask for an introduction, or even better tag along next time they go for a drink. Also think about any larger organisations you work with and how they might be interested in working with you to promote your work. Any organisation large enough to have a press office should be more than happy to help, although, again, try to think about what your story is, and why it is of benefit to both you and them, before you call.
Never underestimate the importance of good photography
As newspaper budgets dwindle, journalists are becoming increasingly reliant on PRs to be able to provide professional quality, high resolution photography of their products and spokespeople. In many cases, the quality of photography you’re able to supply is the difference between a feature running and not running. Ensuring you have great quality product photography - ideally both clear images of your product on its own against a white background (known as cut outs) and lifestyle shots - as well as great photography of yourself, is one easy way to put yourself head and shoulders above the competition.
Talk to us
We count ourselves incredibly lucky to have a thriving community of over 6,000 artists in over 90 countries around the world. We are always on the look for stories about you and your work. Have you recently done something wonderful? Worked on a community art project in your local area? Won an award? Or perhaps you’ve had particular success through Artfinder that you would like us to shout about. Sold your first piece of work? Or your 100th? Or do you have a remarkable story about the relationship you’ve formed with a customer through the sale of your work? Has Artfinder made you able to earn a living from your work, or changed your life for the better? We’re all ears.
Talk about us!
There is nothing we love more than when our artists talk about us! Whether that be sharing positive stories about your Artfinder experience, recommending us in person or tagging us in social media posts, including links to your Artfinder shop on your website or on any other websites you appear on. We always share and retweet wherever we can, and we also monitor press coverage, so can help publicise any mention of your work which also mentions us.
If you have a press story for Artfinder please contact our PR Manager Jane Verity at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on +44 (0) 207 713 0023.
Headline image courtesy of Tomasa Martin