In a world where press, social media and electronic communications prevail and sometimes collide, there are more options than ever to promote or publicize who you are and what you do. Here are some tips to help you through the maze and stack the odds in your favor.
1. Press Release – Make your headline interesting, informative or better yet, both!
Journalists get a bewildering amount of press releases, all vying for a limited number of coverage slots. Supplying a journalist with a headline that is punchy or works a pun (without being obnoxious) or conjures an arresting notion can go along way. Render in upper and lower case in bold, at a font size that leaps from the page and is bigger than the body font; rule of thumb, keep the headline to a length of no more than two lines.
2. Editorial Access Points – What fits best?
Look at the desired press outlet and decide where something about your performance or what you do fits best. Customize your pitch for that section in order to increase the chances that it will make the cut. In other words, give the journalist something specific he or she can work with that is tailored to what they’re looking for.
3. Subject Lines – To open or not to open?
We all go through it, looking at our overflowing email inbox and deciding what’s worth reading and what’s not? Do yourself a favor and make the subject line pop. When sending to the press, if you’ve worked out a punchy header, use it as your subject line.
If you have been using “FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE” in the subject line it’s a thing of the past. Instead use PRESS RELEASE at the top of your document with the company name, or listing PRESS CONTACT along with name, email address and phone number.
4. Brevity – It’s not only the soul of wit, it’s helpful when pursuing the media
Creative people often tend to think in layers. And when they try and explain what they do and why, they often tend to over explain, or resort to lofty, uplifting language in order to “sell” the idea, much as they would when writing a grant proposal. While foundations demand this approach, avoid it when dealing with the press or with your potential audience.
5. Slipstream! – Parity and differentiation
In competitive cycling, riders will often use the slipstream created by the rider in front in order save energy for a later burst of speed. Parity and differentiation works in kind of the same way – choose an artist or artists whose work is more well known then yours, but with whom you share some deep commonality, point out that commonality, and then claim your own turf by listing the ways you are different or how you bring something new to the table. This is especially helpful with press not familiar with you or your work.
6. Image – Fortune favors the bold
In a world that is increasingly driven by images, you’ll need something that speaks immediately to viewers, and which represents in some essential way what you’re doing. Don’t be afraid of attitude or moving past conventions. It can work for you.
7. Image Library – High res, low res and ready to go
Put your images online in both high resolution (300 dpi at no smaller than 6×4) and web ready (72 dpi), and be sure to caption fully and give photo credit. Embed the link for the image library in your press release and on your site if you have one. Picasa is an option, but there are many out there, including Dropbox that will host images.
Avoid sending high resolution/large attached images in an email unless the outlet requests that specifically. Instead, use thumbnails or large low-res images to make the release more visual and interesting.
8. Image Macros – They’re not just for cats
An image macro is an image within which text has been set.
In the world of social media they have become ubiquitous and often feature, well, cats. I Can Haz Cheezburger anyone? Using text that offers either an amplifying, humorous or ironic element to the image is a great way to get attention. And best of all, it’s portable, so folks can pass it around to one another on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
9. Follow Up – Always helps to have something new to say
By all means follow up with the media, but don’t follow up with, “did you get my email?” Rather, have something new to add to what you already sent, some new development, an additional guest or new twist to what you went out with prior.
10. Giveaways – They make the world go ‘round
A number of event recommendation engines have sprung up and gathered big followings. Consider Johnny Funcheap, which lists all kinds of inexpensive or free events. They also run contests where they give tickets away to their readers, usually a minimum of two pair. This not only advertises your event to their entire subscriber database, which is fairly considerable, but gets you audience members who may not be familiar with your work, but who find it interests them. You can also run contests on Twitter and Facebook as well. By posing a question that requires an answer to qualify for the ticket drawing, you can increase traffic to your social media account.
This article appeared in the Jul/Aug 2014 issue of In Dance.