Talking to the Press
Once a journalist is there, here are a few tips for talking to the press. To begin with, have in mind what you would like to say. What is the show about? What would you like people to know? Who influences your work? Why do you make art? Be prepared, because those are some of the questions that the journalist will ask you. When speaking to the journalist on camera or audio only, remember to do the following: when asked a question, pause, repeat the question, and then answer it. For example, let’s say the question is about what the work means, its message.
Start by pausing and say, “Let me tell what this work means. . .” or “When people ask me what my work is about, I say . . . ” The reason you are repeating the question and pausing is so that the journalist can use your voice only when the piece is edited. It is much better-sounding that way.
Another tip to keep in mind is what to do when the journalist asks you a question you do not want to answer or will have difficulty answering. The easiest way to manage that situation is to say, “That reminds me of an important aspect of my work, which is . . . ” and them tell the story that you want to. You can always lead the journalist away from the question they asked by confidently starting another topic.
It is also important to be patient with the press. If a journalist makes an appointment to see you and then cancels at the last minute, be patient. Write to them and ask what happened. I can’t tell you how common it is for a journalist to say they will show up only to be distracted by another story or event. It is easy to be angry at this, at someone wasting your time in this manner, but if you react with politeness and consistency, you will get far. That is my experience, and I have dealt with it many times. We are all sensitive people, and even when I am irritated, I continue to pursue the journalist to reschedule our meeting. I have always found that when you do this, and get the meeting eventually, the person interviewing is apologetic and makes it up by doing a very good job and giving you more than they would have previously.
Delivering the Press Release
There are many ways to deliver a press release through email or online services. However, when you want to get press in your local area, even if it is a big city like New York, I would consider hand-delivering it to the newspaper departments you are interested in. That is what I have done, and it is very effective. There is nothing like getting a physical press release in an envelope handed to you if you are a journalist. Sometimes, you will even be asked a question or two right there about what it is, and you can explain it is an art opening. Of course, emailing it and regular mailing is fine as well. In general, you are looking for ways to stand out from the crowd of press releases pouring in.
To learn more about Brainard Carey and his services for artists, or to take a class from him, click here. To join one of his free weekly webinars, click here. To download the workbook mentioned in this series, click here.