You’ve done it—you’re landed your first solo art show! Congratulations, that’s a real achievement in the career of any artist. Now it’s up to you to make sure it’s a success by getting potential collectors through the door.
One of the best ways to do this is by writing a press release about your show and sending it out to local media. Many artists outsource the writing of press releases to freelance writers, but if you want to save a little money, you could have a go at writing your own.
The words “press release” sound intimidating, but really all you’re doing it letting the world know you’ve got an exhibition so they can show up and be amazed.
Journalists are used to seeing notices about events and news items in a specific format (the “press release” format), so to stand the best chance of getting written up you’ll need to follow that format. Here’s how to do it:
1. Specify the date of the release
At the top of your page, write either “FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE” or “FOR RELEASE ON [date]” if you don’t want people knowing about the exhibition until after a certain date. This lets the journalist know it’s OK for them to write about your exhibition.
2. Provide contact details
Underneath, write your name, your website, local address, email and phone number, followed by today’s date. This lets the journalist know who has sent them the release and how they can contact you for more information.
3. Create an angle
When journalists are deciding which local events to write about, they look through the press releases and choose events that have an interesting story behind them. When writing your release, you’re not just telling them about an event, but giving them a story idea for an article.
Think about your exhibition—does it have an unusual theme? What inspired your work? Have you collaborated with another artist? Is your exhibition in a unique location or presented in an interesting way? Is your exhibition part of a local festival or international movement?
Here are some ideas for angles for a press release:
An artist taking inspiration from local environment/wildlife—exhibition is a reflection of the local natural world
An interesting collaboration between a sculptor and a contemporary cellist, where the sculptor has created forms based on the feelings invoked by the music.
An artist created a series of painting on the backs of packing crates salvaged from a local yard that has gone out of business.
4: Write a catchy headline
Now that you’ve decided on the angle, come up with a headline that expresses it. Think of newspaper headlines—they use as few words as possible to convey an interesting idea. Use all caps and centre your headline on the page.
Here are some examples of how to write a headline for the ideas above:
WILD TOWNVILLE: LOCAL ARTIST PAINTS OUR GREEN PLACES
THE SHAPE OF MUSIC: SCULPTOR AND CELLIST COLLABORATE IN UNIQUE EXHIBITION
DISUSED CRATES GIVEN NEW LIFE BY ARTIST
5: Write your lead paragraph
After your heading paragraph, write 1-2 sentences in bold that tell the journalist the who, what, where, how and why of you event. Don’t worry about flowery language—just write down all the most important information.
Stella Greer, a local watercolour artist, has a new exhibit at the Community Arts Gallery from 12-25 May that celebrates that natural beauty of our area.
6: Flesh out the content
Now that the journalist understands what the release is about, it’s time to give them more information. Give a few details about your creative process, talk about how you met your collaborator, and give a few quotes about the meaning behind your work and what you think visitors will get out of the exhibition.
Journalists will often pull sentences, quotes or whole paragraphs from the body of your release to use in their articles, so make sure your writing is tight, interesting, and relevant to the angle of your press release.
As a visual artist, it’s also a good idea to include one picture of your work with the press release.
7: Add a call to action
The last paragraph of your release should be the “call to action”—repeating the dates and details or your exhibition, inviting the journalist to contact your for more information, and giving your contact details again.
Don’t send your release off to the media without having a trusted friend look it over for spelling and grammar mistakes.
Send your release off to local media either by post or email. Follow up with each media outlet a week or so later to see if they received it and if they need more information or would like to schedule an interview. Good luck!