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Thursday, August 10, 2006

The Art of the Press Release

Years ago, when I was active in most of the area art orgs, I served on several boards as publicity chairman. Back then it was extremely difficult for a visual artist or local art group to get into the print media or on TV. It was partly because the arts editors back then had a bias toward the performing arts and didn't think local visual artists or groups had anything going for them. But also because the groups in question didn't do a very good job of PR. I helped to turn that around by working up a list of one hundred media outlets that covered the arts, including small weeklies from surrounding communities. I also established a press-release format to be used for all events. That seemed to help at the time. Now, our local papers are more involved in promoting visual arts, partly because of the interest of the editors themselves and partly because of the advocacy of the Dayton Visual Arts Center (DVAC).

My publisher has a PR person who was given my bio and information on The New Creative Artist. He told me he has an extensive media guide and there is a procedure for putting out publicity on a new book release. I have no idea what this means. So to be on the safe side, I decided to send out some publicity of my own regarding my book signing next Thursday, August 17. I reduced my original list to about forty newspapers and sent press releases on the signing, including a background of the book and a brief bio. I should have sent them out about a week sooner than I did, but couldn't get to it in time. Nevertheless, I'm hearing reports that notices are appearing here and there in the suburban and small-town papers. There was also a brief notice in the Dayton Daily News this morning. I targeted one arts writer in that paper with a more detailed package, but I haven't heard from her. The Shreveport artists have gotten more publicity than the author has in her own home town so far. Well, maybe there will be something over the weekend. Ya nevah know.

I'm getting excited about the event, working on a brief "audience participation" program that should be fun. Then I'll sign books and the artists will sign the pages their illustrations appear on. We did this with the original book and I frequently had students in my later workshops who treasured their books and took them to demos and workshops so artists in the book could add their signatures. So far, seventeen artists have said they'll be there and I expect a few more than that.

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