As I've been promoting art and events at the gallery and in the Chautauqua region I've compiled a list of resources I use to make sure I've covered all of my promotional bases. It occurred to me that it might be helpful information for my fellow Chautauqua area artists so I am posting it here. (You could also use this as a template for other geographic locations.)
When to start planning: It's not too early to start planing your marketing and PR up to two months before your event. (You don't have to start that early but it helps!) If you are having anything printed or mailed you will want to make sure it arrives in mailboxes about two weeks before your event. Press releases should also be sent out roughly two weeks ahead. So start a little early, plan your message and mark your calendar so you send everything out on time!
If you see anything here that needs to be updated please leave a comment or send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org
One of the first things I do when I publicize an event is to write a press release. Once I've perfected my release I can modify it to use on other platforms and in advertisements. Using versions of the same text keeps information consistent.
Personalize your press releases. Highlight content that will resonate with the specific publication and the audience they reach.
Include one or more higher resolution images. Name each image file with the artist and work description. (watercolorPaintingByLeslieCalimeri.jpg)
Reach out to individual reporters and invite them to attend your event. Check and see if they want to do a more specific story leading up to the event.
You can also send press releases as a followup to an event. Include photos from the event and announce its success in the release.
Chautauqua Area Press Contacts:
WRFA Arts On Fire, Every Friday at 5 p.m. A non-profit Jamestown Area radio station located at the Reg. Lenna, Arts On Fire promotes local ands and entertainment. They host interviews and in-studio performances. Contact: email@example.com
Website & Social Media
Make sure you list your event on your website and it is easy to find from your home page. Also create a Facebook event on your Facebook page and use it to invite your friends. (If you are not very handy with a website you could just put a link to your facebook event on your website instead of creating new content in both places.)
Facebook groups for local artists • Brown Bag Creative Club • Western New York Artist Opportunities • Guest Grower - Digital Marketing for the Hospitality and Travel Industry
Paid Social Advertising There's too much on this topic to get into the details here. I've tried a lot of different paid ads with mixed results. I would suggest boosting your Facebook event for $5 or $10 to the geographical area around you. This usually pays off and gets new eyes on your event and facebook page.
Update 1/30/2020 Organic Social Advertising Push information on your event out on social media on a regular basis. Encourage friends to like, comment and share. The more people interact with your post, the more Facebook will make it show up in a persons news feed. (I think I'll expand on this topic in a later post!)
Email newsletters and lists
Do you have one? If you do, you should be emailing save the dates to your contacts. I sometimes send three emails: a month early, two weeks before and sometimes the day before. You can change the content up a little in each message if you want to keep generating interest.
Chautauqua Grapevine Google Group (email chain) Announcements and requests service used by hundreds of Chautauqua Institution homeowners & patrons throughout the year.
North Shore Arts Alliance (Email list: Must be a member)
Free Events Calendars
Use the top down approach to design. The most important information goes at the top of the page in the largest font. Your printed pieces don’t have to win any design awards, they just have to be clear and concise. If you are using a print shop to print your material ask them to give you feedback or a little help with your design.
Flyers: Print and distribute your own flyers. 8.5 x 11 copy paper will do just fine. Libraries, Diners, Gyms, Grocery Stores - any place with a bulletin board. Don’t forget to bring your own tacks and tape.
Postcards: If you are going to mail postcards try to use a 4 x 6 inch postcard so you can use the less expensive postcard stamps.
Newspaper and Magazine Advertising: Print ads can be expensive. Call the ad rep and ask them to let you know when they are running special promotions. (Sometimes around the holidays). They also publish special inserts at different times of the year that might be more helpful to reach a specific audience. The Jamestown Gazette is published weekly and has very reasonable ad rates and is well circulated. Edible Western N.Y. Magazine comes out quarterly and has reasonable rates.
Local Artist listings, grant opportunities and other artist services
Join organizations that promote artists and will help drive traffic to your website.
Tri-County Arts Council (membership)
North Shore Arts Alliance (membership)
Chautauqua County Visitors Bureau (membership)
I think I've covered all the bases for now. I'm sure there's more promotional methods and channels out there and I'll try to make updates as new things come along. Of course there is much more to local and regional promotion than what's listed here. Look for more posts in the upcoming weeks that focus on these topics one at a time.
Please let me know if you have any questions or comments!