TITLE: When Opportunity Knocks, Respond with a Release
DATE: 8/19/2004 09:14:00 AM
"Opportunities are seldom labeled." – John Shedd
I spoke with a tapestry artist yesterday who told me about an incredible project that just crossed her path. (Well, actually it was brought to her via a gallery who carried her work and a daughter who admired it. But for the sake of illustration let’s just say it ‘crossed her path’.)
A woman saw her work at a local gallery… perhaps it was one of the elaborately upholstered pillows or footstools she incorporates her tapestry work into. Anyhow, the woman inquired as to a custom order for her father’s birthday. The gallery owner was happy to oblige by contacting the artist. The deal was struck. (Second pestering side note: Never forget that THIS is the advantage of working with galleries and not just depending on direct retail sales with customers. You can’t be everywhere at one time!)
Because his surprise birthday party is still a month away, I won’t reveal who this specially made gift is ultimately for. The important part is that the woman’s father is a golf celebrity. And the special ordered tapestry will be gorgeous and tailored to remind him of a golf course that holds special meaning to him.
Now, I immediately thought, "What a great promotional opportunity!"
She was thrilled at the project and, I think, felt that art/craft industry publications might be interested in the story.
I only heard one word… golf.
Golf is a HUGE trend. A lasting trend that is not about to slow down any time soon. Like the fanfare around cigar appreciation, there are golf afficianado magazines, clubs, web sites, catalog companies, stores, and even (yes, I had to say it) GOLF BLOGS!
This artist needed a press release! And pronto!!
So, today we put our heads together and came up with a list of ideas for her. Here is the version I think may relate to you whether your special commission is related to cats, contemporary art, or Coca-Cola:
1) Write a release and have it proofread by at least three other people who will critique it and offer suggestions. Try this web site as a reference for HOW to write a release: www.prweb.com
2) Corral your special media mailing list. The easiest way to do this (when you don’t have access to expensive media subscription services) is to get in your car and drive to a local Border’s, Barnes and Noble, or airport magazine stand. Walk the entire magazine stand and look quickly at the cover of every publication. Let your eyes scan for topics that MAY relate. Remember that if you make decorative accessories, home décor magazines will fit. If you make anything recycled it would fit within a nature, hiking, or health related magazine. If your product could even remotely be considered a gift, it might fit into the gift or lifestyle section of city publications like Chicago, Philadelphia, or Seattle magazines. Don’t rule things out in this part of the exercise. This is about making a list of the possibilities.
3) Now that you have your list, start narrowing the field. I don’t suggest you buy every publication you want to be in. This could be very costly. Instead grab a few and sit down to flip through them. (The bigger bookstore chains usually let you do this without hovering or lecturing.) If you can see a possible tie-in, flip to the ‘masthead’. This is the long, thin column usually found on a left-hand page near the front of the magazine. It lists the editors, the feature writers, and the address for the publisher. Jot down a web site, if you see one. You will find all this info online as well. If they don’t have a web site, (Bahaha! Who doesn’t have a web site?!) at least write down the name of the editor and their address.
4) Email or snail-mail your press release to these contacts. Be sure to include access to images of the work you are asking them to consider as news. This means you could send a CD, email images, send slides, or simply make clear note that images are available by request.
5) This is the most important part. FOLLOW UP. Be sure to call or email your media contacts to ensure they received the materials, if you should send another copy to the actual writer, or if you can clarify anything in the release. For small companies this is crucial. You want to ensure personal contact and make sure they know you are a serious professional.