“Art Galleries whine about not getting press. My mailbox is full of boring press releases. My email box is full of boring press releases. If you are not creative enough to entice coverage, are too cheap to advertise and too lazy to network, how dare you take 50% from the artist. ” — Mat Gleason of Coagula.
I write my own press releases and contact writers myself, partly out of being a control freak, but mostly because I got tired of other people dropping the ball when I thought they had it taken care of. I know several artists who do this as well. Not only do I know better what to say about my work, how to make it mildly interesting, and my exhibition history, but I’m usually a better writer on top of it. I thankfully got practice after having to write dozens and dozens of bios for various non-living artists when I was at a certain art gallery institution in Los Angeles. That being said, I had no control over the press releases; these were all incredibly boring and still being faxed to their media list.
I love it when an item appears (yeah that’s right I said “item”, let’s pretend this is The Sweet Smell of Success for a minute) and the gallery, freelance publicist, or curator will either act like they were the ones who did the footwork and made it happen. Or, they get all excited as if it was totally by magic the website, blog, newspaper, magazine wrote about the show. It never crosses their mind the artist might have actually done the job they were supposed to be doing. But, the thing that annoys me the most is people who think that just because we are in an age of instant communication, that editorial deadlines do not apply. It is nice you made a Facebook invite for an event, and maybe listed it on some websites 3 days before the dang reception, or talked about it on Twitter, but if you want something to be in a glossy magazine — an interview or anything — you have to plan 4 months in advance. Even the local newspaper has to get a heads-up several weeks in advance. You also have to build relationships with writers. Don’t be pushy, don’t assume everything you pass along to them will get featured, and remember many times their editor will nix a story or push it back. And, if they didn’t feel like writing about a show in particular, don’t get mad at them or act like a big baby about it.
Do yourself a favor and get a copy of Fine Art Publicity to start. It might be somewhat dated, but many of the rules still apply. Then get yourself Edward Winkleman’s book.
If you want something done right, do it yourself.