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Tutorial – How to publicize your event or exhibition

by Sayraphim on January 5, 2009

I’m not just a crafty artist, as so many people in this day and age I do many, many things. So one of my plans for these tutorials was always to teach people other stuff that is related to craft and creating but isn’t just sewing, knitting and eating (although these are three of my favourite activities!) If I’ve figured it out or been taught, I want to pass the knowledge on to others. Continuing the cycle, as it were.

So here is the first of my not-quite-crafting tutorials. It’s how to publicize an event or art exhibition you might be organising. I actually wrote this a while ago for a friend on the melb_artists community on LJ, but it’s such a good reference I figured I’d put it here too.

It was written to help her publicize her exhibition (something I’ve had heaps of practice at) but it is just as useful for a craft event, music concert or anything you’re organising and need people to know about…

So, you have an event coming, and that’s all fine, but there’s a bunch of things you need to do to let people know it’s going on.

Press release
Firstly if you haven’t already you need to write a press release. It needs to be snappy and not rambling, it needs to have short clever sentences that the media can pick out at will. The media are sort of lazy and don’t want to have to read something and then write about it, they just want to be able to copy and paste however much fits into the space they have.

The best size for a press release is one A4 page. And only about 2/3s of that is for your show. The rest of the page is for the title of the show, contact details and show details (times, dates, address) You should also set out your press release nicely, use paragraphs and spacing, make it easy to read and not chock full of info. It’s good to get your information out there, but if journalists are faced with a novel, it’s less likely they’re going to read it.

Flier
You need someone with graphics skills to put together a flier, with the details of the show. REMEMBER TO PUT:

  • Name
  • what sort of event it is
  • dates
  • times
  • venue
  • and entry fee if there is one.

I can’t stress this enough. These are all the important details that someone needs if they want to turn up. Make it easy for them :) then if there’s room, maybe a little blurb about the show. Get these printed and have them also in electronic form.

Publicity photo
You need to pick about 2 really good artworks and photograph them for publicity shots. It would be good if you can stick an artist in one of them too. A good publicity shot has some interest in it, and preferably a person. You need to have a good, clear shot of their face and especially their eyes. This isn’t art, its publicity. They wont use it if they cant see eyes.

For other events, publicity photographs should have people in them – actors for the play, the event organiser or a band shot for music events, stall holders smiling behind a stall for a market, and so on.

Media contact point
You need to choose someone to be the media contact point. They need to be able to speak clearly about the project. They need to know about the project, the ins and outs, how it came about etc. They also need an email address and a phone. This info needs to go on the press release. And they need to be ready to go out to the media and speak about the project. This might include being interviewed on radio or telly.

If you can, also put all the info, press release and photos, up on a website somewhere, so the press can go get more info if they want. Remember to include this website address on the press release too.

Ok, so now you have all your publicity materials, you need to go out and find places to put it. That’s actually pretty simple.

Major newspapers – pick up copies of these, find their email addresses and send them an email that has the press release, small web versions of the photos and the flier and the web address where big versions of the images are and all the details. Remember to include the media contact person and their details in the email. Preferable send it from the media persons email address, this avoids confusion

minor newspapers – Most communities or council areas have local papers. If one of your artists lives in those areas, get them to contact these local papers. After all, these papers are local stories about local people.

Freebie newspapers – Pick up copies of every one of your local street press you can find and contact their arts editors/ reviewers/ journalists

Radio - community radio love stories like these. Also contact the bigger stations, it doesn’t cost you anything after all. Do a search online for their websites and then email the producers of the arts and morning programs.

Television again community stations love local stuff, and the good thing is they continue to play it. Jude had his first play back in 2000 filmed by our local channel, Channel 31, and he still has people tell him – hey, i was watching the telly the other night and i saw this play you were in… Very strange, but cool. They’re still running his play and his name 8 years on. I was interviewed for an exhibition back in 2005, and they still run that too. Community tv stations are an excellent resource.

Do contact other, bigger channels too, they might pick it up if there’s something that catches their interest, but don’t be disappointed if you never hear back from them.

Now, the public
Getting the media behind your exhibition is all well and good, but don’t expect heaps from either the media or those who see it in there, if you get it there. Grass roots is the way these things really take off.

So email a copy of the flier to all the artists involved with a little blurb, and ask them to send it to all their friends. Send it to all your friends. Ask them to pass it on. Post it places like LJ, facebook, myspace, your blog, everywhere you can think.

But hard copies are important too. Get the printed fliers (and maybe A4 or A3 posters too, if you have the budget) and start handing them out. Take them to cafes, ask if you can put a couple down. Take them to unis, put them in the cafes. Get the word on the street, and THAT’S where you’ll get your audience from. I would say that from my exhibition opening crowds, about 70% are people who know the artists and have been approached directly from them, maybe 20% are from Internet postings and cafe fliering and maybe 10% saw it in the paper etc and came along.

But remember, EVERYWHERE is worth telling/posting/fliering. A good friend of mine has this saying – you already have no, you might as well try for yes. In this situation, everyone already doesn’t know about your exhibition and isn’t coming. You might as well give them the opportunity to know about it. They still might not come, but then you’ve lost nothing. And hell, some of them might come. But they’ll only come if they know about it.

And you are now well on your way to having a well publicised and well organised event!

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