Public Relations for Artists II – Outlets for Your Message & Working with the Media

There are a lot of media choices available to you - choose them wisely!

In the first article on this series Public Relations for Artists I – You Need to Use PR!  we explored what public relations (PR) is and why you should be using it to get the message out about you and your work. In this article we will look at the various venues or outlets for your message and a few tips on how to work with the media.

The media then and now

In the not too distant past the number and types of media available for publishing your message was somewhat limited. Examples of the various venues available then included:

  • Newspapers both daily and weekly, national and community
  • Magazines
  • Trade publications
  • Television stations – network, local news and features
  • Radio Stations – news, talk radio

Recently some of these venues have been in decline, most notably major newspapers, network television and magazines with the advent of the digital age. Our media has become ever more fragmented with audiences able to find venues that give them only the information they want to consume – bad for large networks, good for niche players and good for you!  Some of the new media venues available to you to deliver your message include:

  • Cable and satellite television – national, local community
  • Online magazines
  • Online newspapers and news sites
  • Blogs about ideas or by influencers
  • Internet radio and TV shows
  • Social Media
  • Newsletters
  • Journals
  • Podcasts and mobile content
  • Satellite radio

You can see the number of channels available has increased dramatically. This is good because you can probably find an audience that is suited to your message. It is bad because some of the old standbys do not have the audience they once had and you will have to work harder to find the right venue for you – think of it as a great opportunity.

Some questions you need to answer before choosing a media outlet

As the media has become more fragmented and their content targeted to a narrower audience your message must also be targeted or suitable to their audience. Before you choose a venue for your public relations message (press release) you need to be able to answer the following questions:

  • Who is my target audience or market?
  • What are my target audience’s “hot buttons”?
  • Is my target audience local, national, worldwide or some combination?
  • What type of media does my target audience consume?
  • What are the newspapers, magazines, tv shows, radio shows, blogs etc. does my target audience consume?
  • Which audience(s) is my message most suitable to?

How to find media sources / Your media list

Once you have decided on the appropriate type of outlet for your message you will need to do some research to develop your media list. Start by writing down your local media outlets – these are the easy ones! In the old days you had to purchase a sourcebook of media outlets or go to the library, now you can just do a Google search. Some ideas of how to search Google:

  • “Newspapers Colorado”
  • “Art Magazines”
  • “Art Columnists”
  • “Local cable stations & art”
  • “Art Bloggers”
  • “Internet radio stations & art”

Ok you should now get the idea. Take some time to find the venues for your message. When you find some that are interesting or look appropriate you are ready for the next step.

Scoping out a potential media venue for your message

Take some time to look at the publication or media to make sure it is appropriate. Some things you will want to write down, bookmark or analyze are:

  • Their target audience
  • The appropriate editor/person to contact and their contact information
  • Any guidelines they have for press release submission
  • How often the media is published or produced
  • How well your message would fit or resonate with their audience

Working with the media

To get your message out you have to work with the media. Unlike advertising you have less control of when and where your message will appear. Take the position that the media is doing you a favor and treat them with respect. And above all don’t forget to thank them if they publish you message. Here are some tips to make you public relations efforts more successful:

  • Tailor your message to the appropriate media
  • Find the right editor – don’t send an arts related article to the sports editor unless you have a real good reason to do so.
  • Call or email them before you send a press release – pitch your story!
  • Be respectful of their time – they have deadlines or busy times so politely ask them if they have time to talk.
  • Help make their job easier – ask what you need to do to make things go smoother
  • Follow through on any additional info or requests in a timely manner
  • If you article appears in a publication be sure to send a thank you note.

In the final part of this series Public Relations for Artists III – Your Press Release and Media Kit we will take a look at how to prepare a media kit and press release. Remember public relations (PR) can be one of your most powerful marketing tools.

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About Neil McKenzie

Neil McKenzie is an author, educator and consultant to artists and arts organizations. He is the author of The Artist’s Business and Marketing ToolBox – How to Start, Run and Market a Successful Arts or Creative Business available in softcover from Barnes & Noble and Amazon and as an eBook from iTunes, Amazon and Barnes & Noble. He has developed and teaches the course “Artrepreneurship” at the Center for Innovation at Metropolitan State University of Denver, and is also a visiting professor at University College at the University of Denver. Neil has over 30 years’ experience as a management consultant and marketing executive, working with some of the world’s top brands. Neil is a frequent lecturer to artists and arts organizations, a guest columnist for Colorado Biz Magazine, where he covers the creative sector of the economy, and the author of several articles for Americans for the Arts, a national arts organization. Follow Neil on Twitter: @neilmckenzphoto