Continuing my series for Fine Art Views on using story hooks in your publicity and self-promotion…
I just figured out how to republish my Fine Art Views articles here! Duh…..
Tell Me a Story: Proximity
by Luann Udell
In short, the world is a pretty big place. But it’s still made up of countless communities. These days, our communities are far more than just the people who live near us. Take another look at yours. See if there’s a group who’d love to hear more about what you’re up to. […]
This post is by Luann Udell, regular contributing author for FineArtViews. Luann also writes a column (“Craft Matters”) for The Crafts Report magazine (a monthly business resource for the crafts professional) where she explores the funnier side of her life in craft. She’s a double-juried member of the prestigious League of New Hampshire Craftsmen (fiber & art jewelry). Her work has appeared in books, magazines and newspapers across the country and she is a published writer. She’s blogged since 2002 about the business side–and the spiritual inside–of art. She says, “I share my experiences so you won’t have to make ALL the same mistakes I did….” You should submit an article and share your views as a guest author by clicking here.
A quick look back… Some people protested the validity of using ‘sex and romance’ as a story hook. As I said, it’s not for everyone. But here’s an example of how powerful this story hook can be: Andrew Wyeth and the ‘Helga’ Chronicles
As Mr. Knight points out, this story was so huge, it went ‘viral’ in pre-Internet days!
Let’s take the conversation back to safer ground, and talk about proximity as a story hook.
We use the proximity hook for a story that’s physically close to home. It’s why I run a press release in my local newspaper when I’m having an open studio. I want local people to know about it—my customers who live nearby and potential new customers. My customers who live four, five or ten hours away aren’t likely to attend, even if they want to.
And local people are the most likely to be interested because it’s…well….local! We’re always interested in things that take place in ‘our own back yard’.
That’s why most newspapers and radio stations will readily run a press release about a local event. They know it will be of interest to their readers.
Some artists don’t send press releases to their local paper. “People around here don’t buy art,” they claim, or “My customers don’t live here” or other reasons. I contend that people know other people and people pass on items to other friends who might be interested.
True story: I emailed an open studio notice to all my customers, even those who lived out-of-state. One out-of-state customer immediately called her friend—who lived in my town—to tell her friend to attend. That local woman is now a friend and a valued customer.
Another, more subtle reason to publicize yourself locally—it establishes your credibility and credentials as an artist.
And another true story: I was an at-home mother with no job when I started my art. I was known as ‘Jon’s wife’ or “Robin’s mother.’ After achieving some success with my work, I felt comfortable telling people, when asked for my profession, that I was an artist. But since anyone could say that, I sensed some folks took that with a grain of salt.
I began to send announcements to our local newspaper whenever a piece was selected for an exhibition or for publication. I announced when an article was published or when I received an award. Within a couple of years, I noticed I was now being introduced as a ‘famous artist’.
I still treasure the other titles, but I like the new addition.
Now, a proximity story hook is low-hanging fruit—it’s easy to get publicity just because you live ‘here’. The question is, just how far afield can we take proximity?
Consider: Where else do you ‘live’?
Consider other communities and homes we are part of.
‘Local’ is relative.
For our region, Keene is ‘local’. But for our state, the Monadnock region is local, so I can target regional newspapers for certain stories. My state is local for New England. And so on. I wouldn’t submit a release for an open studio to a national media. But I would if they were focusing on stories from New Hampshire or New England.
Former communities count.
My home town is a community. People in Gladwin, Michigan are always happy to see a local girl made good! I’ve sent press releases newspapers in my home town paper and others where I used to live.
My college is a community. As an alumni, I sometimes send press releases to my university’s art history and education departments.
People are communities.
My friends and family are a community, though they live all over the country—and world. Email and Facebook are good ways to let them know my news. Friends lead to friends-of-friends and the wave continues.
My customers, galleries and reps are a community. They all have a vested interest in my success. They’re delighted to hear about each honor and achievement. They want to hear about my new work, exhibitions, shows and good press I’ve received.
Peers are communities.
I subscribe to many professional and trade publications. Some of my news releases would be appropriate for them.
I belong to certain professional organizations, for craftspeople, polymer artists, jewelry artists. Ditto art and craft forums and other online communities. If I achieve some honor or win an award, these are also communities who would be interested.
My special interests are communities.
I volunteer for several organizations. My volunteer community and the organizations we work for are other potential audiences.
I’ve had articles and artwork images picked up by horse riding publications; boat magazines (my fish wall hangings!); archeology publications, etc. I sometimes post news to a group that collects antique trade beads.
In short, the world is a pretty big place. But it’s still made up of countless communities. These days, our communities are far more than just the people who live near us. Take another look at yours. See if there’s a group who’d love to hear more about what you’re up to.
And as always, be sure to share your unique communities here, too!
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Tell Me A Story: Proximity
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