Press Releases - Why Should I Bother?
What is a Press Release?
A press release is an excellent method of promotion for artists who want to share information about their work or upcoming art exhibition they are participating in or have organised. It can also be used to advertise events such as workshops or public artist talks. The press release is written to target journalists, editors, reporters, prominent social media personnel or bloggers who may want to check out, write an article or review whatever is being advertised in the release.
Content of a Press Release
Writing a press release is actually very straightforward even though it may seem difficult. The tone of voice is particularly important. It should read like a mini news story. Take a third person stance and avoid using hyperbole and metaphors; words like 'extremely' and 'fantastic' are unnecessary. It needs to sound professional and should be both factual and informative. Don't worry if you think it reads very plainly. That's how it should be, it will improve your chances of a news editor or journalist writing your press release into a story.
It also has to include all the relevant information, think in terms of who, what, when, where, why and how? The most common structure for writing a press release is the 'triangle' principle. You start with a concise statement including all the important information and then broaden out into more relevant detail. This way the reader will read the most important parts first and are more likely to write about it.
The key thing is to make it accessible to not only members of the media, but also the general public and art industry professionals who may also be interested in your work. Below is a visual example of how a press release should be structured:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE/ EMBARGOED UNTIL [DATE] [i]
TITLE: Think of a clear article which captures the essence of the press release. It should be short and interesting.
INTRODUCTION: Here you should incorporate the who, what, when and where. Be sure to include the artists name, the title of the exhibition, the date, the name of the venue and its location.
PARAGRAPH 1: In this paragraph you should discuss the exhibition, work or event. This is where you can go into detail, highlighting some of the main features and things that people would be particularly interested in. A sentence or two that convinces the reader that this is an exciting news story should also be included.
PARAGRAPH 2: It would be useful to include some quotes from a named person, either the artist themselves or someone involved in the organisation of the event, or even someone who is endorsing or sponsoring it. It may be necessary to split this paragraph up if it becomes too long.
PARAGRAPH 3: The last paragraph should be an artists statement, giving some interesting background information about the artists and any previous work they have done or exhibitions they have participated in. You could also include any awards with which they have been presented.
CONTACT SECTION: Include a name, email or telephone number which people can use to contact someone for more information or questions they may have regarding the press release.
- This should be brief bullet points.
- Mention who (if anyone) is endorsing or sponsoring the event and give some brief detail about the organisation and their contact details.
- Further information that may be of interest, e.g. website details.
- Social networking platforms.
In regards to using images in your press release, you should aim to use only one image in the actual press release. It should be representative of the exhibition or event as a whole, either visually or thematically. Any other pictures can be separately attached or available upon request of the editors. Also include any logos of affiliated companies or organisations at the bottom of the press release.
The Arts Council gives a very good example and some useful advice on how to write press releases and distribute them.
Distributing a Press Release
A well-written press release that is sent to the right people can create a lot of publicity. If your release is about something newsworthy and interesting, then sending it out to local and national newspapers, magazines or websites can mean a lot of exposure.
It's best to target your press release to particular individuals or organisation that might be interested in your work or the event being advertised, such as certain galleries or art blogs. Blindly sending out copies may be a waste of time and effort on your part so you'll have to carry out some research first. In this technological age, the fastest and easiest way to distribute your press release is via email. The cover email should be formal and polite but with a personal touch to show that you have thought about who you are sending the release to.
Press releases are the easiest way of letting people know about your news, event, work or exhibition so use them to spread the word and gain some publicity. There's no harm in self-promotion so don't be afraid of writing a press release and sending it out. After all, it could potentially further your career.
[i] Indicating whether the press release is set for immediate release or whether it is embargoed lets media representatives know when they are allowed to release information about your work/ event/ exhibition. An embargo means that the press release will share confidential information but it must remain confidential until the stated publishing date.