By Jenny White
I’ve worked both sides of the table when it comes to art press releases, having edited art pages, written art features and also sent out plenty of art-related press releases.
As a journalist, I faced certain frustrations, but my top ones were: press releases that didn’t contain any quotes; attached images that were too small; and press releases or emails containing no easy contact number so that I could quickly get the information I needed.
Gaining publicity for art galleries has certain advantages: there is often a very specific event to hang a story around – usually an exhibition opening. There are also readily available – often fabulous – visuals and an artist ready to give comments on their work. It’s a perfect formula – so here’s how to make the most of it:
- Include a catchy heading that mentions what is happening, where and when.
- Keep your style as journalistic as possible. If you have certain publications in mind, take a look at their style and try to mimic it.
- Include a hi res image of at least one of the paintings – but beware that if you attach too much, the message may be too big for the journalist’s inbox. Aim for 500k – 1MB and you should be ok, but check the message hasn’t bounced back.
- Include a shot of the artist with some of their work – ideally in your gallery. Time was when local newspapers would send photographers to get pics like this. These days, cash strapped papers are more likely to include images if you provide them – and they like pics with people in them.
- Include some comments from the artist about their work. If you’re stuck for ideas, these should help: what inspired the work in this show? Who or what has influenced or shaped your style? What do you aim to capture or convey in you work? What motivates you to keep painting?
- If it’s not possible to include quotes from the artist, include some quotes from a suitably qualified person such as the curator or gallery owner explaining the value of the show and why they chose to put it on.
- Include a bit of background information on the artist, including where they are from, where they now live and where they studied.
- CLEARLY include the location and dates of the exhibition.
- If you hear nothing, drop the journalist a short, polite email to remind them that the the show is due to open in about a week and to ask them if they would like further information.
- Include a phone number so that the journalist can get hold of you easily.
- Pester the journalist if they don’t reply to your follow-up email.
- Include overly academic art speak unless it is relevant to the publications you are targeting.
- Omit images or include tiny images.
- Write more than about 500 words unless requested. Keeping it to 300 is usually fine – but take a look at the space allocated for art stories in your target publications and take it from there. If you give them a good press release that reads like an article, they may run it as-is.
- Expect the paper or magazine to go out of their way to cover your event. Make it easy for them.