As a working artist, think about the amount of time you invest in getting your work noticed. How many e-blasts do you meticulously craft and edit for your audiences? How many times a week do you post about your upcoming exhibition or work in progress on Facebook? Do you ever have that feeling that you are missing on an opportunity to get a wider audience to notice your work, and to improve how you target gallerists and collectors? Investing thousands of dollars in a public relations campaign is one way to get your work noticed, but is there a more cost-effective means of increasing your media influence as a working artist? Below we outline some critical moves that you should be made to ensure that your outreach makes a real impact.
Think Outward for Greater Media Influence
The best way to make an impact on other working artists is to think outside your own art practice. This is not a cynical exercise: it should, in fact, be a humbling and gratifying experience for the working artist. Who in your community has an exhibition coming up? What designers are creating work you admire? What’s trending on Instagram? If there’s a widespread conversation happening in the arts, engage! Find ways to celebrate others and they will gladly circle back around to celebrate you.
The best way to celebrate others whose work you appreciate – artists, designers, creative entrepreneurs, etc. – is to repost. By re-posting another working artist’s good news, you’ll make a memorable impression and be able to share and support your community. This is a win-win situation that requires ongoing attention. Find ways to repost or show your support at least once a day, and the effort will be reciprocated when you have something to celebrate within your own career. Engage with art critics and editors who work within your field and pay careful attention to the medium you work within. As a result of consistent engagement, the door will gradually open to greater media influence, whether online or in person.
In addition to re-posting celebratory news, when you see a working artist looking for assistance, speak up. Be the first to offer advice and recommendations when someone is seeking it – whether it be a working artist seeking a framer, advice on shipping or art handling, or the like. Chances are high that if you can make a valuable suggestion, you’ve made a good impression and will come to mind when future opportunities arise. In addition, stay entertaining – if you only make three impressions on social media, they should be: supportive, helpful and entertaining. By indicating you are someone who is positive and helpful, reporters and editors will recognize on a personal level that you are an encouraging and productive community member capable of wielding real media influence. This will be reinforced as you meet them in person at future events and they recall your (virtual) positive first impression.
This might seem like simple advice, but ignoring the three impressions rule – supportive, helpful, and entertaining – can make you nearly invisible on social media, and therefore lacking in your media influence capabilities. Posting about your upcoming exhibitions and ongoing work is important, but continuing to engage with others in the community in meaningful ways will build the foundation for future interactions which can lead to ever greater connections and opportunities. By connecting with others visible in the arts, you’ll gain attention with critics and influencers in the art news media who are tuned into what’s relevant in the art world. They’ll begin to notice your name, associate it with your personal brand, and eventually, your announcements for future exhibitions will rise to the top of the pile for feature articles. This way, you’ve not only managed to be a constructive community member but also be more recognizable as a working artist who brings solutions and whose work is worthy of media influence.
Build Your Network Through e-Blasts
Let’s consider your e-blast or artist newsletter. What content will make yours special and a must-open? Consider entertaining and helpful ways to structure your artist e-blast, instead of spending minimal time on it just to get information to your contacts, is the most constructive approach. Most importantly – make it topical. Is there a current event happening in the art world or national news that you can tie into? Does your work somehow relate to current events? If your work directly responds to current political trends, for example, this should be evident early on in the artist email blast, or even in the title. Making a catchy title that makes evident that you are in tune with current events as a working artist in the field will serve as encouragement for others to pay attention to the email’s contents.
Personal invitations to events that are especially important – such as with Paperless Post – are more likely to be opened and to get a response. This is particularly important to send for events such as private viewings or close-knit celebrations, as the e-blast may get ignored when a personal invitation is nearly twice as likely to receive a response. Particularly with editors who receive hundreds of invitations to events per day, it’s worth considering a private reception for a select few. Sending a private Paperless Post invitation to ensure that you get an opportunity to speak intimately with targeted media influencers is a great way to ensure you’ll be able to get their attention. By making it explicit that their time and comfort are important to you, you’ll receive only gratitude in return.
Perhaps the most important factor in constructing an artist email blast is making it personal. Write in a tone and voice that indicates that you are communicating one-to-one with the person reading the email. One example is to consider using a friendly “can’t wait to see you!” rather than “I look forward to seeing all of you” type of note. By adding a sense of personal interaction in your artist email blast, your audience is more likely to attend to meet you in person and to connect individually. Especially for exhibition openings, this is a key factor for landing media influence and audience engagement – without making a personal appeal, the event feels less urgent .Entrepreneur notes that, in line with our social media goals of staying positive, that creating refreshing, upbeat emails will ensure repeat opens and greater impact. Also, keeping newsletters short but sweet, and including relevant and dynamic images (the more the better!), will ensure that you have a greater chance of making an impression as a serious working artist.
Finally, make your artist newsletter engaging! An easy way to achieve this is to include good news that another working artist in your immediate circle has shared with you. By highlighting the achievements of your connections – other gallery shows, talks, panels, and recognitions – you’ll be updating your immediate circle and giving them news they may have missed while reinforcing that you are someone worth supporting. Goodwill is best when shared regularly, and making this a regular feature in your artist email blast, even with something as simple as a link to relevant events and accolades, will ensure regular audience engagement. This is also helpful to editors and critics who are looking to consolidate their efforts to use their time wisely: if they know that by opening your e-blast they’ll receive a healthy helping of art news, they have more impetus to do so.
Choose Partners Wisely
Reputations can make or break you, so why not choose to associate with those who have stellar reputations? By regularly taking on small-scale joint ventures with other artists or creatives whose work you admire and who have made a positive name for themselves, you will definitely demonstrate notable media influence. The best way to begin the discussion is to find ways to partner on flexible and short-term projects so that you will be able to familiarize yourself with what works for your artist partner. Whether this stems from proposing a partnership to produce a new event, joining efforts to support a shared cause, or participating as part of a team in a pop-up exhibition, partnering with those you admire is one way to move toward gaining new experience and increased exposure. This will also guarantee ongoing social media mentions and build new personal contacts for you in the wider art media landscape. By contributing to a joint effort with those who already wield media influence, the odds are in your favor that you’ll make new media contacts that will build a personal investment in your brand as a working artist.
What are some of your tips for gaining media influence? Have you had experience partnering with companies or brands to enhance or leverage your media influence?