For a creative entrepreneur building a new project — whether it be an artist inaugurating a new gallery exhibit, a designer launching a new line of clothing or a creative getting ready to publish a book — hitting your deadlines and completing the project itself is only half the battle. The other half? Getting people to care.
Peaking the interest of the press and potential and existing fans and customers is an art itself and creating a media kit and press strategy is going to be key to making sure all that hard work pays off. Lainya Magaña is the founder of A&O, a boutique integrated marketing and public relations agency that offers services to businesses in the arts and culture industries. Her team is made up of a group of writers, publicists, curators and creators that design engaging content strategies for art galleries, creative business owners and individual artists and creatives, which often includes creating a media kit. Artrepreneur chatted with Magaña about understanding the role of an artist media kit and gave us her tips on the importance of building a larger marketing strategy to put all eyes on a creative launch.
Understanding the Role of the Media
The artist media kit is the icing on the cake. It is the final step of a much larger process. The most basic function of an artist media kit is to provide all the vital information to make the journalist’s job of discussing – and thereby, promoting – your project as simple as possible. But in order to peak the interest of the press, it is important to make sure that you have done the work to tell an engaging story before you even begin creating a media kit. If you’re ahead of the game, then hopefully you have already built a consistent brand narrative. Magaña stresses the importance of not only building a strong buzz around a specific launch or exhibition with an artist media kit, but making sure that you’ve considered your entire brand and that the narrative can stand on its own two feet.
“It’s really important to backtrack. Before you begin with public relations strategies, you need to understand the brand itself,” Magaña explains. “It is important to sit down and think about what the brand is already saying. What have you already been communicating? How and where have you marketed yourself already? If we bring people to your business or project, is the message fluid? Do people understand who you are and what you do?”
Likewise, Magaña stresses the importance of understanding the value and limitations of public relations and marketing, and using both to diversify the ways in which you get the message out. While developing media relationships with a targeted artist media kit is invaluable, it is important to understand that press is just one piece of the puzzle.
“Clients come to us because they want their project launch or brand to be visible, and they’ll say to us, ‘I want some newspaper articles.’ They are looking for a traditional press approach, such as some coverage in newspapers or magazines,” she explains, “What they are really looking for, in essence, is profitability. Public relations alone can’t bring you profitability. There is no direct ROI relationship between a press clip and a sale that can be tracked. So it’s important to think of PR and marketing as two separate and equally important things. With marketing, you can track numbers and data.”
In addition to seeking out traditional media coverage through creating a media kit, it is also important to be considering ad placements, events, partnerships, social media campaigns, blogging and other forms of content creation. Mediums that provide numbers and create data are invaluable to the health of a brand or launch, as you can track how people engage and what demographics make up your audience.
Creating a Media Kit
According to Magaña, the most important part of building a solid artist media kit is contemplating its longevity. Rather than considering each newsworthy launch or achievement in isolation, it is key to understand how every individual project will interact with one another over the course of a brand’s life. She adds that there is no single template that works better than the other, but that “consistency and persistence” are vital to presenting a strong brand within an artist media kit.
“PR becomes so much more powerful as it goes along. The biggest issue we encounter is that people aren’t aware of how long things will take,” insists Magaña. “It is important to craft a voice and develop a language and stick to it and build out your public relations strategy over various projects.”
Creating a media kit is often an exercise in gathering past and current projects that would be relevant to a typical arts and culture journalist. Your artist media kit should include:
- A press release or various releases depending on scale of the project
- High-resolution images
- A brief biography
- A fact sheet
The press release is your opportunity to communicate the message and concept behind a particular launch or body of work, whereas the biography and fact sheets are used as supplemental information about the brand itself and specific achievements. For artists or creative professionals, your biography and fact sheets should include your artist’s statement and CV, which has hopefully been created in a manner that takes into account your overall brand strategy. In addition, press releases within your artist media kit shouldn’t just be limited to big launches, either. Keep people up to date with minor events, like a new curator at the gallery or an upcoming collaboration with a fellow artist, to keep people up to date and involved with your brand.
Language and tone should always be consistent across all assets and remain in line with the established language of the rest of your brand. In many cases, press may directly quote from your artist media kit. This is a creative’s opportunity to shape the way their launch or creative brand will be written about. Magaña stresses the importance of being “succinct and interesting” and catering to your audience. “People are busy and so brevity goes a long way. A press release should always have a very clear ask,” she notes, adding that the ‘ask’ should identify the lede for potential stories.
Getting the Message Out
Magaña suggests that your website should have an easily accessible press page on which you house your artist media kit and any relevant press you’ve received—larger institutions may opt for a hidden, password protected page for the credentialed press, while smaller brands and independent creatives may want to keep the information publicly available to encourage stories. During email blasts of your artist media kit, shorten links with a simple bit.ly link to direct viewers’ attention. It’s also worth considering more creative approaches for events. For example, during the opening of Untitled, a Miami-based art fair held in tandem with Art Basel Miami Beach, A&O created customized junk drives that could be handed out to press, rather than bulky information packets. The personalized pen drive could later be used and serve as a constant reminder of the brand.
Networking and building strong personal connections are equally important supports for a PR strategy. Magaña encourages her clients to be active on social media and interact with people in the industry as well as attend events, cocktails, lectures and special activities that allow the press and local community to experience your work firsthand.
Magaña concludes that the most important part of developing a public relations strategy or artist media kit is understanding the value of time and persistence. “Consistency is the strongest tool. With time and persistence, good projects will succeed. It’s about exploring different channels and being consistent; with time you will begin to see a snowball effect.”
Do you have an artist media kit? Let us know in the comments!