Creative Publicity Pays

Success in PR requires the 3 Ds…Desire, Discipline and Details. That is, you have to truly want it to happen, you have to apply yourself with dedication and you have to study to know how to work as smart as hard to get the payoff you want.

Here is a great question from a loyal reader (And a pretty good answer if I do toot my horn myself):

Dear Barney, You mentioned publicity. Can you give us a few ideas on creative publicity and how to and where to? What magazines do you suggest and what about free publicity, as well? Thank you, Janet Vanderhoof

Art Business Book Club

Man_arms_outstretched Thanks for the excellent question, Janet. The best most effective publicity doesn’t just happen. It comes about from a pre-planned coordinated effort to raise awareness for an artist. Too often marketers underestimate the power of publicity because it is not bought as a commodity like advertising. Just because it is complementary doesn’t mean it should be taken lightly.

Before beginning a PR campaign, one needs to determine what the goal is. Getting publicity is a good thing alone. Getting publicity in the right media for the right reasons is a wonderful thing. Wasting time chasing the wrong media with the wrong goals is disheartening. The goal could be to become better known within the industry or some segment of it. Or it could be to become better known locally, regionally or nationally. It might be any combination of these segments. Or, it could be something completely different. It must suit you and your needs. The more ambitious the goal, the more planning and brainstorming it will take to pull it off.

Do You Need to Target Consumer Media, Specialty Media or Trade Media?

There is consumer media, specialty consumer media and there is trade media. One can target all if you are ambitious, organized and energetic enough to manage it. If you have read my book and this blog, you know I believe becoming a student of the business you want to conquer is imperative. That is, know what the trade publications are doing. Read current and back issues thoroughly making a concerted effort to understand what is going on with them, especially with their PR columns and features. Take the time get to know the editorial staff. They are always busy, but the right approach will win some time for you.

Art Business Book Club

My recent blog post about Joy Butler and Nicole Kidd on stealth marketing is a perfect example of how an author and fine jewelry maker seeking publicity got the attention of people who can help them. Both targeted media influences who stood a chance to help them ratchet up their profile with the right audience.

The trade publications serving retailers, art dealers and picture framers are Art World News, Art Business News, Decor and Picture Framing Magazine. You should have them on your radar screen, especially the first two mentioned. There are numerous artists “how to” pubs such as The Artist’s Magazine, but I don’t think targeting them will help you grow your business. It would more of a vanity bragging rights move to go after them.

There is a host of specialty consumer magazines targeting the art market, you need to spend some time at the library or a good magazine store or a Borders to study which of these might be appropriate for you. Frankly, I think top shelf glossy consumer art magazines are out of range of the most artists, including the typical reader of this blog. But, don’t be shy and never be afraid to dream or to tackle the impossible. It’s always free to ask and as Wayne Gretzky says, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” Sometimes the neophyte blindly charging in where others fear to dare is the one who gains access to things considered out of reach by those who study and think too hard before acting. Carrying the hockey analogy further, the highest percentage shots are the ones with the best angle to the goal.

The trade pubs don’t have the pull they once did. The audience they serve is much smaller and more finicky, but they are still important and worth studying to learn what publicity opportunities they offer to artists. You will be surprised at what is possible with a diligent respectful campaign to get your items published in these books. If you can swing some advertising in them, do it. It’s good for the magazines that serve the industry and the added visibility will give your publicity more credibility and punch and vice-versa.

If you want to target consumer media, whether print, radio or television, you have to have to stand out from the crowd. There are so many media outlets today that it is a constant chore for them to find suitable content. But, what they are looking for is something unique, something different, often with a human interest perspective. A charitable component is always a booster.

How about making a goal to get x number of national trade media placements, x number of local media placements and x number of regional media placements in 2008? It just takes planning and persistence. Make a reasonable achievable plan and break down the steps necessary to turn the plan into action. Don’t take on more than you can reasonably handle. That is a prescription for losing patience before you succeed.

Some mags, like the trade pubs are easier to deal with and have shorter deadlines. Others, like national consumer mags are months in advance on publicity. Newspapers work on shorter deadlines. Local broadcast media often is only working a couple of weeks in advance for many stories. Decorating shows on cable are targets. Any and all of these are great targets, especially if you weave a cohesive plan to work as many as make sense together to create synergy and momentum. To find ideas, you have to train yourself to read and review the newspaper and magazines and other media not for entertainment or information, but as sources. When you see an item of interest, even those things not art related, ask yourself what you would need to do to emulate it, or do it better.

Analyze Who You Are, What You Do or What You Might Be Interested In Doing?

Do you paint fast? Do you paint subject matter out of the ordinary? Are you a charming character? Are you an outlandish larger than life character? Do you paint unusual subject matter. Do you have compelling personal interest story? Are you doing something worthwhile that will benefit a charity? Do you paint pets or kids in unusual settings? Do you do performance art with your visual art? Can you hook up with a performing artist to present your visual art in concert with music or performance? Have you created a thematic body of work that would grab the interest of local or regional media? These are just examples, you’ll need to plumb your own situation to find what works for you.

Online Media Is Growing in Importance

I urge you to not overlook the burgeoning influence of Web sites and blogs to be creative media outlets. If you have the right art, Boing Boing could be perfect. Or it could be a business blog that appeals to the right segment as the aforementioned Nicole Kidd successfully targeted. Get Heather on her Dooce blog to notice you and suddenly hundreds of thousands of the Baby Boomer parent readers of her blog know about you. Research a list as on Technorati of the blogs with the greatest amount of page views for ones you can target. If you choose to forgo traditional media altogether and concentrate on online media, you can make a real dent. Natasha Wescoat continues to impress me with her tireless effective ongoing cutting edge efforts in the online world. If you do golf art, then getting some golf bloggers to mention you would be excellent. You just have to go where the interest and content fit your plans and product. The possibilities are endless. The research might lead you to subject matter you hadn’t previously considered.

Broadcast PR to Traditional PR Outlets Is Always a Winner.

Take advantage of PR outlets such as PRWEB to broadcast a press release to thousands of media. My advice is to fund your press release at least at the $80 level at PRWEB. By comparison to any other media spending, this could be the biggest bang for your buck. You can also try Now Public if you are on a budget, but you won’t see the reach of a funded PRWEB press release.

To get your arms around an idea that can be utilized in media in an ongoing way might require you to think about it for sometime before you get clear on what your UAP (Unique Art/Artist Proposition) is. But, if you cogitate on it long enough, you will figure it out. Your first thought may only be a step in the right direction. You may need to alter your course to adjust to changes in plans or because the opportunity is not what you thought, but is still something worth pursuing. There is no quick fix to working publicity effectively.

None of this happens because you wish it so. It requires the 3 Ds…Desire, Discipline and Details. That is, you have to truly want it to happen, you have to apply yourself with dedication and you have to study to know how to work as smart as hard to get the payoff you want. Putting it all together is not an easy task. But when you consider what other efforts have the potential to do so much for you, you’ll likely agree a job worth doing is worth doing well, especially in the area of public relations.

As with anything else, the more quality time you put into it, the better your results are certain to be. But to make it happen, you have to plan and then you have to act. Once you do, good things will happen you couldn’t imagine beforehand. My all-time favorite quote is from Goethe who eloquently and passionately brings this notion to light:

Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative and creation, there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now.

~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749 – 1832) )

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Art Business Book Club

Barney Davey

I help artists and photographers find buyers, sell more art and operate profitably.

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