Episode 167 – Making It in the Art World by Brainard Carey / Talking to the Press

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.

Relax

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.

Episode 166 – Making It in the Art World by Brainard Carey / Managing the Press

Chapter 10

Managing the Press

Every artist wants to receive more press, and why not? It is part of how you get your message out into the world! The first thing you have to know about the press is that they are looking for good stories, not just good art. If you are having a show at a gallery or at a fair or just about anywhere, you can send out a press release to let the press know. There are many resources online to help you write a press release, but it is fairly simple. You must write a text as though it were an article already written about your show, in the third person. So you might start out saying something like, “The exhibit of Barne’s work is an arresting show of portraits that evoke emotions and memories of missing children.” Begin your press release with a strong first line that will draw the reader in. Then continue the writing and explain why the show is a must-see. End it with the information needed to see the show, the date, time, and address of the opening, and the close date. A public relations person once told me that the press are just like you and me, and make decisions about going out based on what seems exciting to them— personally.

The Journalist

Put yourself in the position of the journalist who is reading your press release. You read a lot of press releases every day, why should you go to this show? Something has to stick out; something must be special about this event. One way to make it more appealing is to have more things happening there than just the show. Performers, lectures, food, etc. I get a lot of invitations to shows in which I do not know the artist or the work, and generally, I don’t go to them. However, not long ago, I got an announcement about an opening near me that also featured a poetry reading, jugglers, a band, and free ice cream! That sparked my interest! I grabbed my son and went right down there. I looked at the art, had some ice cream, and learned how to juggle! A journalist reacts the same way; they want to spend their time in the most interesting way possible, just like you and me. So when you are having your exhibit, consider adding something else to the mix to make people notice and want to come. Perhaps all the things I mentioned at the opening I went to, or something edgier, like burlesque dancer(s) or fire eaters or anything else that would make you raise your eyebrows and think, “Wow, that sounds interesting!” If you can get a celebrity there or a popular local band, that will also bring the press in. It doesn’t matter if your show is in a local coffee house or a gallery. But make it worth going to.

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.