Guest blogger: Joan Stewart, The Publicity Hound
The next time you're promoting a special event like an art show, gallery opening or pottery class, add to your PR toolbox a powerful list of websites that will help build the buzz and make your event a success.
Artists should be using location-based, high-traffic sites that accept calendar listings, press releases, articles and photos. Add to the mix much smaller niche sites that help you target people who are passionate about things like pet paintings, beaded purses, clothing art and metal sculptures.
Don’t forget about social media sites where news about your event can really go viral and you have a great chance to draw huge crowds.
Here are eight websites or online tactics artists should consider when promoting events:
This high-traffic local guide on how to live bigger, better and smarter in more than 75,000 locations throughout the U.S. combines in-the-know editorial recommendations, candid user comments, and expert advice from local businesses.
The site has 15 “city editors,” most of whom are young and hip and have their own blogs. They write about their favorite local restaurants, bars, tourist attractions and events. You can contact editors in Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Chicago, Houston, New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, D.C. All city editors make recommendations for their readers.
CitySearch also has a list of 40 hand-picked “Insiders” (http://blogs.citysearch.com/insiders) who are designated “the go-to local authorities.” Some even specialize in events in specific neighborhoods. So start building relationships with them.
City-Specific Event Sites
Let’s say I want to promote my art classes in Fort Worth, Texas. I’d use WorthGoing.com (http://www.WorthGoing.com), a site for arts and entertainment in Fort Worth. It has an Events category, a Museum & Galleries sub-category, and a category for Public Art.
But I’d also do a Google search for “Fort Worth Events.” That turns up all sorts of interesting websites that promote local events, from the Fort Worth Convention & Visitors Bureau to Fort Worth Weekly, which has a category for the arts and welcomes your events.
Use this online social networking portal to draw people to a wide variety of offline events such as art festivals and meet-the-artist receptions.
I did a search for “art” in “Chicago, Ill.” and found numerous MeetUp groups. The West Suburban Writers, Artists & Musicians MeetUp is sponsoring “A Gallery Type Showing of Our Works” on Saturday, Nov. 13.
There’s also the Chicago Fiber Artists MeetUp, Polymer Clay Chicago, the Beginner’s Art Gallery Group and the Chicago Area Figure Drawing MeetUp, among others. Groups don’t have to meet regularly to be on MeetUp.
This is also a great place to find people who are passionate about a certain topic or certain type of art. If you paint pet portraits and you’re looking for pet owners in your city, for example, search MeetUp groups for people who own pets. If you find a group near you, you can join and attend their public events.
Host a Tweetup as part of your event. A Tweetup is a chance for Twitter fans to meet offline to share information with each other about a particular hobby, interest or activity.
You can host a TweetUp for just about any activity or event, even if it’s informal, like a meet-the-artist roundtable event at a local coffee house. If you're hosting a Tweetup, use Twtvite.com to promote it.
Flickr.com makes it easy to share photos or video from one person to another in whatever way you wish. Share photos and videos of past art shows, or use photos and videos to promote an upcoming show.
Create your own gallery of photos that display all your artwork, or your latest pieces. Many artists are squeamish about posting photos of their artwork online because they’re afraid of others stealing their ideas. But there’s no arguing the exposure you can get at high-traffic sites like Flickr. Visitors can easily turn into customers.
Your State’s Department of Travel & Tourism
Many states let you upload your own calendar listings for things like festivals and other tourist attractions to their websites. Some will even distribute your event listings to a variety of other calendars throughout the state.
Don’t let the bad publicity that has swirled around Craigslist send you running. This high-traffic site has more than 20 billion page views per month and continues to be a valuable publicity tool for art events.
Most of your news will probably go into the Community category under one of several sub-categories: activities, artists, general, groups, events, local news and classes. It’s best to check the sub-categories first, see what kinds of items are posted there, and then decide where your news item would be the best fit.
This site has strict rules that allow you to post only to the city nearest the event, and to only one category or sub-category.
If your event would attract tourists, send press releases, photos and calendar listings to any of the several dozen inflight magazines, as long as the airline serves the city where the event will take place. Even though you usually think of inflight magazines as printed publications, most of them are also available online, and many of them let people subscribe for free, by email.
You can submit free listings of your events for the 45-page destination guide located in the back of every issues of Go!, the inflight magazine for Airtran. Editor Orion Ray-Jones says he wishes more people submitted information on things like tourist events, restaurants, nightlife, day trips and other interesting things to do.
The inflight magazines love hearing about events such as gallery tours and art festivals.
About the Guest Blogger
Publicity expert Joan Stewart, a speaker, trainer and consultant, specializes in how to dovetail traditional and social media to promote any product, service, cause or issue with passion and poise. She lives (and tries to stay warm) in Port Washington, Wis. She blogs at PublicityHound.net.