Tips and ideas to help you do your own PR when you’re an artist, designer or maker
How can you as an artist, designer or maker engage with journalists and editors to promote your work? Claire Gamble, MD of PR agency Unhooked Communications and founder of PR training course PR Unlocked, explains.
If you’re an artist or maker who wants to promote your work and business, one effective way is to get featured in the media. Media relations is one tactic PR agencies and consultants use for their clients to help get their key messages, products and services in front of the people they want to target, such as potential customers. But if you don’t have the budget to employ a PR and media relations expert, there’s no reason why you can’t do it yourself – you just need a bit of know-how and confidence. Here are some tips and ideas to help you do some of your own PR and media activity.
Why is getting media coverage beneficial for craft businesses?
Securing media coverage – for example, an article in a magazine or newspaper – can have numerous benefits for businesses. Depending on the media outlet, you have the potential to reach thousands, if not millions, of people and showcase your work. As some of the opportunities in the media are specifically to promote products to give their audience ideas of what to buy, it can directly lead to sales and enquiries too.
Getting you or your business featured in the media can build credibility and set you apart from your competitors. If you’re focusing on online media – such as newspapers and magazine websites – this can help boost your search engine optimisation (SEO), especially if you manage to get a link back to your website.
What sort of media can artists and makers target?
Typically, the types of media you can research and target with your craft work, business news and other content cover:
- Regional media: including newspapers, magazine, TV, radio and websites.
- National media: again, including newspapers, magazine, TV, radio and websites.
- Consumer media: typically, newspapers, magazines and websites that are read by consumers, for example, homes and interiors magazines.
- Specialist publications: there are specialist magazines and websites that focus on specific crafts and skills, such as card making, paper craft, knitting, jewellery, art, and more.
The best place to start when working out which types of media outlets to approach is think about who you want to target, for example, you might want to get in front of potential customers or people in your local area. You should also think about what types of media outlets might be interested in your business and work.
How and where do you find the right media contacts for your craft business?
There are several different databases you can subscribe to, which help you find media outlets and contact details. However, these can be quite expensive.
Another option is to do your own research. It might take a bit longer, but it’s completely free and will give you a better understanding of the various media outlets out there. To do this, you could ask your customers what types of magazines, newspapers and websites they read. You could visit your local newsagents or library and see what publications they have, or search online for different titles. When you’re researching, have a look at the type of content they publish and start thinking about what you could submit that’s in line with it.
Prepare your media pack
For product-based businesses, it’s worthwhile spending time sorting out a media pack – sometimes known as a press pack – as this can save you lots of time when you’re pitching to the media. There are no strict rules as to how you should do this, but you could set up a folder on your computer or somewhere like Dropbox and add in:
- Product photography: Usually you need lifestyle photos (ie the product or item in a home, or being used) and cut-out images (ie the product on its own on a white and/or transparent background). Make sure photos are high quality and 300dpi. Often landscape images are preferred by the media, but have a good mix of pictures so journalist and editors can choose the best ones for their layout. Always make sure photos are in colour too, not black and white. Save all the product images with your name/business name, a description of what the product is, price and where it can be bought from. It might feel like a lot of information to add, but it will help journalists.
- Headshot: If you’re going to start doing your own PR, it’s worth getting one or two decent headshots of yourself taken. Again, make sure they’re high quality, 300dpi and in colour.
- Biography and company information: Write a paragraph about your business – when was it founded, what it does, and any notable milestones or achievements. Also write a few lines explaining who you are, your experience, skills and anything you’re particularly proud of, such as award wins.
- Product information: For each of your products, you might want to write a short description explaining what it is, the materials it’s made from, dimensions, any care advice, or other useful information that consumers might want to know before buying your item.
Find out more about how to create a press pack, with examples, here.
Different ways to get featured in the media
Once you know which media outlets you want to target and you’ve got your press pack sorted, it’s time to start finding opportunities and pitching to the media. There are lots of different tactics you can try in order to secure media coverage, but here are some specific ideas to help you promote your products and craft business.
1: Product placement
To be included in product placements in the big magazines and newspapers, try contacting the shopping editor
Product placement is when you see an image of an item that is available to buy, with the price and stockist information. These often appear in consumer magazines, websites and newspapers – particularly national or regional newspaper supplements. If you’re researching and pitching in ideas to publications directly, for big magazines and newspapers you often want to try contacting the shopping editor.
There are some tools and software available to help you find opportunities. Although these are paid for, if you’re serious about getting your products featured in quality titles, it can be worth the investment. Many offer free trials so you can try before you buy. Homes4Media shares requests from journalists looking for products to features, which you can reply to. PressLoft allows you to upload your images straight to your own profile. Journalists then find and download images of suitable products and any info related to them by searching for keywords and themes.
2: Gift guides
Gift guides are great opportunities to showcase products available for sale. They are usually very seasonal – for example Christmas, Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day – and are often put together around three months in advance.
Similar to product placements, gift guides are great opportunities to showcase products available for sale. These are usually very seasonal, for example Christmas, Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day. You can pitch directly to magazines and newspapers but be aware that a lot of media outlets, particular monthly publications, can work up to around three months in advance. So, if you’ve got a product that’s suitable for Easter, you should start thinking about it and contacting journalists around February time. Likewise, for Christmas, don’t wait until December to start your PR – many journalists start working on Christmas gift guides in September, or even earlier.
Another tactic to try when looking for opportunities is to go on to Twitter and search for the hashtag #journorequest. Journalists and editors use this when they’re looking for case studies, comments or products to feature. You have to check in regularly and respond really quickly, but if you time it right and perfect your pitch you could get featured in really well known national and consumer media outlets. You can find out how to pitch for #journorequest with this free course: How to use Twitter for PR and media coverage.
3: Tell your story
Journalists love human interest stories, and everyone has a story to tell. Work out what yours is, and it could help you achieve media coverage.
A lot of publications have opportunities for interviews, profiles and features about interesting or inspiring people. These are a great opportunity to talk about your experience, passions and opinions, as well as your craft and products. Usually features include a number of images too, and could be anything from half a page to a double spread, or even a few double-page spreads.
The key for securing opportunities like this is to do your research. There’s no point pitching a feature or interview if the media outlet doesn’t cover these. Have a look at local newspapers, regional lifestyle magazines, consumer publications or specialist craft and art magazines. You can also keep an eye on journalist request services or tools, like the #journorequest hashtag on Twitter, to find suitable case study or comment opportunities.
What is it about your personal story that makes you interesting? Are you using your talents to help other people, your local community or a charity? Or perhaps your skills and crafts have helped you get through a difficult part of your life?
Make sure you’ve got a strong angle – what is it that sets you apart from others, and what is it about your personal story that makes you interesting? Maybe you’ve changed career later in life? Or are you using your talents to help other people, your local community or a charity? Or perhaps your skills and crafts have helped you get through a difficult part of your life? Journalists love human interest stories, and everyone has a story to tell. Work out what yours is, and it could help you achieve media coverage.
4: Share your knowledge
There are often opportunities in magazines, websites and forums to share tips and how-to guides.
As well as looking for opportunities to promote you, your business and products, why not share some of your knowledge? There are often opportunities in magazines, websites and forums to share tips and how-to guides.
By offering to write advice articles or even video tutorials you’ll create content that people will find genuinely useful, as well as start to make a name for yourself as being an expert in that particular craft.
Achieved some media coverage? Shout about it!
Make sure you share a link to any articles or features you get on social media and let your network about it because the more visible you are, the more opportunities you’ll find.
If you secure media coverage – congratulations! It’s always exciting to see your name in print. But don’t just stop there, make sure you share a link to the article on social media and let your network about it because the more visible you are, the more opportunities you’ll find, whether that’s enquiries, sales, partnerships, collaborations or building new relationships. PR, including media relations and coverage, can help to boost your profile and showcase your talents.
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