Written by Brady Wood
What’s not to love about publicity? In addition to being free (or, at least, inexpensive), press coverage is more organic and authentic than paid advertising. Both press coverage and advertising have their places in building a brand. PR, in its pure form, is an objective, editorial endorsement of your work. PR vouches for you, whereas advertising is inherently self-promotional.
Want to hear another beautiful thing about PR? The saying is true: press begets more press. Journalists and bloggers read each other’s work. Once you garner some coverage, you’re more likely to be discovered by other journalists and bloggers and get included in their stories, as well.
The Minted PR Team has strong relationships with national publications and publicists. Our team pitches stories about a wide variety of Minted artists to national media (and select international media), ranging from magazines to television to major blogs.
To build your personal brand with publicity, we encourage Minted artists to start local, including local newspapers, entertainment and arts weeklies, blogs, and local TV. Not sure where to begin? Here are five tips to help get you started.
1. Create Your Pitch List
When it comes to local and regional media to choose from, who’s most likely to feature you? Keep this question at the front of your mind as you compile a list of the publications and blogs you’d like to pitch your story to.
If you’re unsure of what’s out there beyond local traditional media, Google is your oyster. Search for local blogs with keywords like “Dallas art blog” or “Texas photography blog.” Once you identify some blogs that you like, look for a blogroll on their site — many blogs maintain a list of links to similar blogs.
Study the blogs’ content and whether your work plus their content makes an editorial match made in heaven. For example, would your art complement a particular local home décor blogger’s design aesthetic? Do you create baby and kids designs that would gel perfectly with a particular local mommy blogger’s vibe? Does your local city magazine produce an annual holiday gift guide? If yes, put these publications on your pitch list.
2. Arm Yourself With Information
Once you’ve identified your Pitch List, take a deeper dive into their content, and identify the best person or people to contact with your story pitch. Some publications post editorial guidelines, deadlines and time frames, and advice for pitching stories.
As you’re reviewing publications’ previously published articles, ask yourselves these questions and take notes:
Have they covered artists before? If so, how did they cover them? Is there a particular “art” or “home decor” writer? If so, keep track of their name.
Does the publication have any sort of regular series that spotlights shopping recommendations, local businesses, entrepreneurs, or creatives?
What kinds of feature stories do they publish? How could you creatively pitch yourself for a story with an angle that’s different from what’s already been done?
How far in advance is this writer, blogger, or reporter working on stories? In general, magazines work months in advance, newspapers and TV might work weeks in advance, and bloggers have the most flexibility (although most established bloggers sometimes book their calendar weeks or months in advance). If they haven’t published this information on their website, it’s a good question to ask and it will demonstrate your willingness to accommodate the writer’s needs.
Editors and writers appreciate that you’ve taken time to read their work; if you convey that you’re a fan of their work and you’ve taken time to understand what they’ve already published, you’re making it easier for them to make a decision.
3. Pitch an Interesting and Complete Story Idea
Now that you’re armed with information, you’re ready to craft your pitch email. As for how you approach editors, use your authentic voice and address them by their first name—not “Dear Publication Editors.” A casual, friendly, and energetic tone works well with writers and bloggers. Score bonus points for personalizing the message by including a personal detail that you have in common with the reporter, such as mutual friends, parenting similar aged kids, shared interests, or the reporter’s hometown.
You may want to use a slightly more professional tone with traditional journalists (for example, with bloggers, you can let the exclamation points fly in your emails, but with journalists, you might dial down the exclamation points a bit). Exclamations aside, you can keep it conversational and friendly with professional journalists. Don’t be stiff or overly formal.
As for pitching yourself for editorial coverage, think about your “hook.” As in, what will make your story compelling and timely to the publication’s audience? As you’re writing your pitch email, include details such as:
- Ideas for beautiful and unique visual content that you could provide (beautiful images are particularly important for bloggers, who are always hungry for eye candy)
- Relevant facts and links to your work and other press you’ve received
- Information about your accolades and achievements
- Any exclusive portraits, photographs, or designs
Karly Depew, first-place winner of Minted’s 2015 Holiday Card Challenge, was featured in Columbus Business First.
4. Pounce Quickly and Follow Through
Keep in in mind that media tends to move on extremely fast deadlines. If they like your story idea and want to feature you, be prepared for a fast turnaround. Respond to media inquiries within hours when possible, but always respond within 24 hours. Make sure you’re clear from the start about the deadline and timeline that the reporter has in mind.
Always follow through on your commitments. This is an obvious but extremely important point. Follow-through builds trust. If the writer knows you’re a reliable go-to person in a pinch, they’re more likely to call on you for future story opportunities.
5. Build Relationships and Scratch Their Backs
Show bloggers and local publications that you’re a fan of their work by following them on social media. Media outlets tend to check out your social presence to see if you have a strong following and can help them promote the published story.
We recommend following the social media accounts of all of your local publications and blogs and that you follow individual writers and reporters public social media accounts. In other words, it’s fine to follow a reporter’s public Instagram feed. You might, however, want to wait until you’ve established a connection before following their private social media accounts. Keep in mind that some people like to keep their personal and professional accounts separate, and don’t be offended if they don’t accept your connection request on their private account.
If you spot another interesting story or local event that you think would be interesting for a given blogger or reporter, send it their way as a friendly, no-strings-attached FYI. You can also help local reporters network—make introductions to people you know who could be helpful to them.
Your genuine helpfulness shows that you support the writer and appreciate her work. And what comes around tends to go around.
Brady Wood is Vice President of External Relations at Minted, working with our artist relations, public relations, business development, and social media teams. He has been with Minted for almost four years and previously led marketing. Brady has been building online communities since the Internet stone ages (mid-90s) and has led marketing, public relations, and partnerships for several successful startups (if you have high schoolers, they probably know his last venture, Shmoop). Follow him on Instagram @BradyWood and on Twitter @bradyrw.
This is the seventh article in our 2015 Minted Holiday Playbook for Artist Stores, a one-month program designed to teach artists how to better merchandise, market, and sell their work. Stay tuned to the Community>Resources section of Julep for more.
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