There are ways to approach the press that don't work and lead to frustration. But how can you make those connections that get results?
“Simply Aqua” alcohol ink on yupo paper by artist Kelly Dombrowski
Understand what is newsworthy.
The press needs good stories to publish, on many topics. And, luckily for you, they need them on an ongoing basis to keep churning out all those articles. As an artist, you are interesting to begin with, and you have a creative business that is fascinating to most people.
Create a compelling story to share about your unique inspiration, your mission, exhibition or project and write it in a concise format to share with the press. Give them the information that they need to craft an authentic and impactful article that speaks to their audience and drives interest.
Remember that emotional resonance is key to making that connection, so before you tell your story think, "What is fascinating about my work?" "How does it relate to other people and what they value?" and understand why your story will jibe with their readers.
Build your network and start there.
LinkedIn is a great place to begin, as it's a very popular networking site where you may already know lots of people. To be an effective networker, ask yourself, "What do I have to offer others?" and then pay it forward. You may also find bloggers, influencers and press members in LinkedIn groups where you can connect and correspond.
Let's say that you're really just getting started. Who is in your network? Probably other artists that you know. Do they have a blog? Do you? Consider exchanging blog posts, where you write about them and their work, and they reciprocate. This is called a “strategic alliance”.
Do you belong to a guild or organization? Offer to write an article about an event, or a project for them. Become a "press member” yourself that way, and you can network with other peers who write regularly. The experience you get in writing about yourself will help you craft those stories in the future.
Build up the "Press" page on your website with articles published on smaller blogs, publications and newsletters that are produced by people that you already know. These will count towards establishing credibility, and authority and more publicity. Press begets press.
Pitch at the time of need.
How do you find reporters planning articles where you might fit right in? You can obtain the editorial calendars of their publications. This is the scheduled list of articles for months into the future, and is generally available to potential advertisers.
Contact the publication, ask for the calendar, and determine if you might be perfect for an upcoming story. Then, contact the reporter or editor with a concise email (and a subject line) about the article, and your expertise or your art that would be a good match for what they need.
You can also find reporters currently seeking experts and material for articles by registering as a "Source" at Help a Reporter (HARO). They send out frequent emails, and by scanning through the "queries" you can respond to a reporter with your pitch. HARO is free to use.
Give them everything required to write your story.
There is nothing more frustrating than trying to hit a deadline and not being able to reach your source. You can make it super simple for a reporter to write a story that includes you by providing a bio, and even ideas in your press kit. Provide enough information so they don't even need to speak with you to include you in their article.
You can even make suggestions that make for an easy story for them to write. Jewelry artist Maryellen Kim of Twist Style includes a "story idea" sheet in her press kit that lists potential articles that could be written about her work, including "Crafty Entrepreneurs", "Weddings and Bridal", "Vintage Revival" and more. She writes a few lines on how her business fits neatly into each topic. Maryellen even offers reporters the option to set up a special discount code for their readers or viewers. Pretty sweet!
Getting press exposure isn't that difficult if you plan your approach, find the right publications and blogs, and start connecting. Persistence is key to getting traction, and publicity.