As with most forms of marketing and publicity, it's best to do your prep work well before you will need it. Start waaayyyyy ahead and you'll reap oodles of benefits. Leave it to the last minute and you'll be shocked at how ineffective your efforts are.
Your Media List:
Having your own media list that you develop over time is priceless because you can build relationships with the people who have the power to help you.
Start with a spreadsheet, set up some columns for the contact info and list each publication down the left side as you gather them. Start with the obvious, like your local papers and TV stations, and fill in more as you think of them. Select publications that attract your audience and add those.
- DO check their website for instructions on how to submit press releases, and follow them to the letter (or risk having yours put in the trash bin).
- DO take the time to find out the name of the person in charge of receiving press releases so you can send directly to them. Over time make the effort to get to know that person so they will know YOU when they see your information.
- DO review their "editorial calendar" so you'll know what they'll be writing about in the upcoming year, and time your press releases to best advantage.
- Don't forget to makes notes about all of this on your spreadsheet.
Yeah, it's work and it takes time. But truly, it will pay off for you handsomely in the long run. Honestly, I've gotten more press releases included in publications than I can count because I have taken the time to call and speak to my contact person. I make notes about them, and each time I speak with them I build on the relationship.
Press Release Services:
There are a lot of them out there, from free to quite expensive. Do your homework, find out if they are legit and how they do their job. Talk to other artists who have used a press release service and see how it worked for them. Look for reviews online. Lots of services can broadcast your press release for you, but you want the ones that the editors of the publications you want to be in are actually reading.
If you're thinking of hiring a PR firm, again, do your homework, get references, check the BBB, talk to other artists and their clients. Make sure the firm handles other artists and knows the art world. Hiring a PR firm is expensive, and worth it if they get results.
Buying/Renting Mailing Lists:
Sometimes buying a mailing list can be very helpful in getting the word out via snail mail (postcards, for example, but not lists with email addresses - you'll end up tagged as a spammer). There are hundreds of thousands of people on legitimate mailing lists (snail mail). Make sure the company you rent the list from keeps their lists updated. Again, do your homework.
The last list I bought for a client helped enormously. He was having a show locally, the gallery had their own list but it wasn't huge. I rented a mailing list that was highly targeted: Households within a 45-minute drive of the gallery, who had incomes over $100,000 and who had expressed an interest in fine art. The show, the first one for the artist, was packed and he sold quite a bit of art and added significantly to his mailing list.
Be sure to follow the rules. Lists are rented or purchased for one time use, or multiple uses. Never, ever, use a one time list more than once. They'll know (the list is seeded with addresses they use to check).
I hope this is helpful to you. Do start now, learn and build over time. You'll be glad you did.
Want some help or advice on how to put it all together? The first 15 minutes are on me, just email me to schedule some time.
All my best to you and yours,
Web Marketing Mentor