Public Relations for Artists III – Your Press Release and Media Kit

Once you have developed your message and media you are ready for your press release

Once you have decided that you have something newsworthy about your art or art business AND you have decided on the appropriate media and audience, you are ready to develop a press release and media kit. If you are still not sure why you should be using PR or haven’t yet developed your target audience/media be sure to check out: Public Relations for Artists I – You Need to Use PR! and Public Relations for Artists II – Outlets for Your Message & Working with the Media.

Reasons for sending a press release

Keep in mind that your press release must be “newsworthy” – having a sale is probably not newsworthy and probably won’t get your press release published. Some ideas on newsworthy events include:

  • A new show or exhibition
  • Participation in a group show or public event
  • Changes in your art business such as a new studio or change of location
  • Participation or leadership in arts related causes or events
  • Anything new or exciting about your art or your business that your audience would be interested in
  • Awards or accolades you have received

Elements of a press release

The press release is the vehicle which you use to relay your message to the media. It is sometimes also called a news release or media release. In the past most press releases were printed on paper and either mailed or faxed to the media. Prepare your press release on your letterhead (or electronic equivalent) and be sure to include your logo if you have one.

Today it is more common and convenient to send an electronic version either as a word document or PDF. Some publications may publish your press release verbatim, others may edit it for brevity and others may add a substantial portion of their own copy – make it easy for them. Do not make your press release too long, one page is about right.

Similar to an advertisement, a press release is made up of elements or parts. The key elements or sections of a press release include:

  • Headline – your headline needs to grab the attention of the editor and their audience. Remember the old marketing adage – “you can’t bore people into buying from you” or reading your announcement.
  • Dateline – be sure to include the date of the press release and your city/state. The editor needs to know if your announcement is appropriate for their audience – this could be your town, your state or globally.
  • Introduction – your introduction should be the first paragraph which tells your story in a nutshell and provides all pertinent information. You should check out how newspaper or magazine articles are written if you are unsure. In a newspaper article you get the gist of the story by reading the first paragraph. The further down the article you read the more details you get. Even if you don’t read the whole article you still have a good idea of what the article is about.
  • Body – this where you further explain your story and the reader has a chance to find out more about your newsworthy item. Keep it interesting and only provide information that is relevant to your story.
  • About or boilerplate – in this section be sure to include some background information on you and/or your organization. If you have worked on your elevator speech or mission statement you should have some good ideas on what to include.
  • Close – most press releases end with a set of symbols to denote the end of your press release. Common endings for a press release are “-30-“ or “###”.
  • Contact Information – make sure you include your contact information as the last element in your press release. Include your name, phone number, email, website and physical address. Make it easy for an editor to contact you if they have questions or need additional information. Who knows? – Maybe they will want to write a feature article on you or your organization!
  • Attachments – if you have graphics, images, photos or electronic files such as music or video be sure to include them or links to them in your press release. Make them in a common format so that the editor does not have to spend any time doing conversions.

Your media kit

Ideally your press release should be part of your media kit. Your media kit could be a physical collection of information in a folder or more common today a PDF document. A media kit includes:

  • Your press release
  • A background piece on your company (studio) and the general theme behind your art. A modified artist’s statement may suffice if it is relevant to your press release.
  • A short biography about you and your accomplishments. Be sure to include any awards, accolades, other exhibitions and degrees you have received. This is the place to paint a picture about your accomplishments.
  • Reprints or links to other press you have received. These could be your other press releases that have been published or mentions in the media or websites. The idea here is to build your credibility and stature. As you develop your public relations program you should have plenty of items to include.
  • Samples of your work and images of you. If you have a good headshot or images of you in your element include them in your media kit. Make sure the images are good quality and use a professional if you need one. If your art is in the audio or video medium be sure to include a CD/DVD or an online link to your content.

A final word

When you have written your press show it to some people or marketing professionals you respect. Make sure your message comes across clearly and the press release is not too wordy or long. You may also want to employ the services of a PR professional if you feel uncomfortable writing your own. A good PR person I know is Jerry Brown of pr-IMPACT , check out his website for some great PR tips and contact him if you need professional help.  Jerry also has a cool new blog on sustainable energy entitled Brown on Green – more about blogs in coming articles.

After you send out your press release make sure you follow up by phone or email and don’t give up – it may take several attempts to get your message published. Good luck!

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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