Think Social Media

Artists cannot survive today without the use of social media. Think Twitter, Facebook, linkedin, and myspace. You need to have a presence on these sites. In PR 2.0: New Media, New Tools, New Audiences Deirdre Breakenridge shows you how to use social media to get eXposed. Below is a review of Deirdre’s book PR 2.0.

Enjoy.

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Art eXposed: Marketing Yourself

This month we take a look at a subject that many artists find the most difficult:  Marketing Yourself. What we’re talking about here is not selling your work; it’s learning to sell yourself. As an artist you are not an anonymous manufacturer; you have put a little of yourself into everything you produce, and it is this that people buy.

Why should you market yourself?

For the most part artists do not have agents unless they are highly successful or they work mostly on commission, so promotion is down to you. But don’t worry about compromising your integrity; marketing yourself is not about tricks and stunts, it is about defining yourself and forming a brand that people can latch onto. It is choosing to label yourself, rather than letting others choose their own less desirable labels. The first and most important task in this process is creating an artistic statement.

The artistic statement

If you still believe that all art should speak for itself then you are probably not doing too well as a professional artist. A terse statement about yourself and your art is an essential marketing tool. It is a slogan for your product. It will be the first thing people read about you on your website or portfolio. It will roll off your tongue when asked about your art and it will be regurgitated in newspaper articles and the mouths of those discussing you.

It should be evident then just how important it is that you get it right. To start with, you should spend time thinking over and writing as much as possible about the following questions: What it is that you do? Why do you do it? What unifies your work? What are you trying to convey? Where do you fit in the art world? What are your core beliefs about art in general?

Write as much as you like, but try to keep it written in plain English. Imagine explaining your art to someone you respect, but who knows nothing about art. Once you have all your thoughts written out, you must then distil them down to a few short sentences. Do not merely cut things out, but think of what principles underlie all the different facets. You should aim for a short, memorable and profound statement that will explain the essence of what you do. If you need inspiration, look at the artist profiles on the ArteXposed website for good examples.

Putting it into action

So, you’ve written your artistic statement and come up with a great individual brand. How do you put it into action? What are the secret marketing tricks to spread your reputation? Sorry, but there are none. Self-promotion gimmicks are tawdry and counterproductive. You shouldn’t be waving banners and blowing trumpets to announce yourself to the world. We will be discussing how to get interest in your art later on, but in terms of promoting your name there are only three things to rely on: word of mouth, the newspapers and time.

Word of mouth

We will be discussing networking in depth next month, but for now you should know that it is through simple conversation that most opportunities will arise. Being able to talk about your art with confidence, fluidity, passion and sincerity to anyone who takes an interest is essential. All the work you put into writing your artistic statement will help you to verbalize your ideas. As for confidence, you must practice talking about yourself without either shame or arrogance.

Newspapers

A photo of you and your art in a newspaper is an excellent promotional tool, so always keep an eye out for opportunities. Think of what might interest the general public about your work. Perhaps you have created something with a local interest, or maybe your work involves novel techniques to create it. If you are holding an exhibition, submit details and a brief profile of yourself to local newspapers. The templates in the Art eXposed PR toolkit enable you do this in the correct form that journalists expect.

Give it time

Your reputation will spread if you put the work in, but it will take time. Understand that gaining notoriety locally must be done before you try to spread yourself further. Be patient, but always be on the lookout for new opportunities to spread your name.

PR 2.0 and Social Networking for Artists

There is a tremendous amount of value that comes out of online conversations in social networking communities. Today, the concept of PR 2.0 focuses on reaching people who are like-minded individuals who share similar interests through meaningful web discussions. And, as you venture into and explore different web communities, whether it’s MySpace or Facebook, you’ll find opportunity to build trust and strong relationships with people. Just by setting up a profile, you open up and make information available about yourself. By taking this first step, you are welcoming the opportunity to talk to people one-on-one and to listen to them. That’s the best kind of relationship building there is!

As an artist, there’s tremendous potential for you to speak directly to someone online who may be interested in your style of art or perhaps they will contact you to help them answer a question pertaining to a period in art history. Either way, you use dialogue to start the interaction and to build the “friendship.” In these social networking forums, you are also able to participate in groups, perhaps with other artists or with people who prefer a particular type of art. On Facebook, when you search under the word “art” about 500 different groups surface that you can peruse and join if you are interested.

Another great opportunity for you to speak with people who share you passion for art is by setting up your own blog and by blogging regularly. You can easily start your own blog through Word Press (www.wordpress.com) or Blogger (www.blogger.com) or you can choose to blog in a social networking community (whether your blog is posted as a part of your profile or within a group that you participate). Blogging is a great way to start conversations and learn about people and have them learn about you. However, whether you are blogging about your favorite artwork, your technique or your passion, it’s really important to make a solid commitment to blogging and to stick with it (however often that may be). Soon you will have people who follow what you say, and look forward to reading your blog, on a regular basis.

In the past, you may have heard that social networking is just a way to collect ‘friends’ rather than a PR strategy, but savvy people are realizing it’s so much more. In fact, it’s one of the best ways to talk to people who are like minded and who are able to share interesting insight. If you listen and listen hard, you will learn, and then you will be able to reciprocate with information that will guide someone else. That’s how to make real friends and possibly gain new followers who end up someday as your best customers.

By Deirdre Breakenridge, Art eXposed President.
Her new book: PR 2.0: New Media, New Tools, New Audiences

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