Want Some Press? Avoid These 8 Mistakes

Getting press exposure requires ongoing effort and the right strategies. Here are some of the biggest mistakes artists make when reaching out to the press:


Writing on Computer


  1. Using a scattershot approach. This method assumes that if you send out enough emails to everyone, somebody will respond. It’s not very effective. Do your research and find out exactly what types of magazines, newspapers, radio shows, blogs, etc. are appropriate for your story, and why. Then, tailor your message to each one individually.
  2. Failing to address the recipient by name. “Hi there” is not a greeting that is going to inspire interest, and will probably get your message deleted. It shows you are using “copy and paste” to blindly send the same message to lots of people. This is insulting to the recipient, because you apparently expect them to craft an individual response to a message that you didn’t bother to individually write. Do yourself a favor: find out the name of the reporter, blogger or editor that you need to reach with your pitch, and address them personally.
  3. Not creating a narrative that matters. You need a compelling story that will be appealing to their readers. Why should their particular publication be interested in writing about you? Put yourself in the shoes of the reporter and write your pitch so that it resonates with them.
  4. Not contacting them in a timely manner. If you write a pitch on December 1st with the intention of being included in a story about Christmas gifts, you are far too late. Request the editorial calendar from the publication’s sales department, and find out the articles scheduled to be published in the next six months. Reach out to the contact on a story well ahead of time to be considered.
  5. Too much information. Sending an email with a 2,000 word pitch about yourself and why you deserve press coverage is putting the cart before the horse. A straightforward, short email with a clear subject line, and concise information with perhaps one or two images will suffice. Don’t forget the link to your website so they can learn more.
  6. Not following submission procedure. Sometimes, publications solicit submissions from artists who want press exposure. Make sure you read the instructions, and follow them. You would be surprised at how many people do not. Those are people who are eliminated before even being considered.
  7. Failing to take advantage of opportunities. Headed to a trade show? Got your press kits? If not, you are giving up a great chance to get covered. Here’s where the press heads to find artists to write about. Make sure you are represented there by a press kit that grabs attention.
  8. No follow up. Once a member of the press has indicated interest (whether you solicited them or not) it is up to you to stay in touch. If they don’t contact you, send a low-key reminder message to keep your work and your story in front of them. And, don’t forget that once you have gotten press with a publication, they know you and are more likely to give you more press in the future.


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  1. I’m an woman artist approaching the end of life but not the end of creative work. In July I worked exuberantly on a large oil that I started as a young woman, joyously slinging paint and within two hours came finished
    “The Innocents”….Originally these were two poses of one nude model and I made them a bit more interactive, added foliage and felt deeply satisfied. The painting was accepted into the national juried show at ARKELL, but last week Schenectady Community College refused to hang my beautiful work! A 76 year
    old Grandma banned in Schenectady! Mind you, this was not a juried show….it was an all member show of the Schenectady Art Association; mine was the only piece that was not allowed. I had to schlepp out in zero degree weather and high winds…which damaged the professional framing work…to retrieve the piece.
    So everyone tells me: You wanted more notice. You’ve got it. Call the tv stations. Call the editor.
    What do I say….? The event planner thought it might be inappropriate and called the man who in charge of the liquor license who thought it “too graphic”. And of course one of the SAS members instead of standing in solidarity for artistic expression said, “Someone might be offended. There is a fine line
    between art and pornography!”
    How would one approach this sensitive issue and raise it to more than ‘he said, she said’ to be sure that issues of public ownership/use (county community college) and the conflict of interest of societies that above all want exhibit space are not suited to advocate for artistic freedom, etc.
    Is an out of town paper better? A guest post on a blog? I’d pay for advice….
    It seems like an opportunity falls in my lap and none of the 8 points address the dilemma.

    • Betty, Your situation doesn’t fall under the type of press that the article addresses. However, you could definitely start a conversation about the issue of being excluded from an exhibition due to personal tastes, or what constitutes the difference between art and pornography, how to deal with sensitive issues when hanging an exhibition, etc. This could be approached from many different angles. Getting press on a subject like this would require some research and thought. Who would be interested in this type of question? Perhaps Brian Sherwin, who writes on thorny topics like this over at http://theartedge.faso.com/blog. You are correct that this should be raised to a higher level of discussion and not be mired in a he said/she said scenario, which wouldn’t really merit press attention.

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