Get the Word Out Early and Often

Whenever you have an exhibit opening or similar event, you can’t expect to send one thing in the mail and have an impact.
People typically have to see the same information multiple times—in multiple ways—before they will act on it. Here are 7 steps you can take to get the word out early and often.
1. Start blogging, tweeting, and Facebooking about the event as soon as it’s set. On your blog, for example, you might first post about the event details in an announcement. Then, you can mention it once a week in the context of other posts. Your message shouldn’t be too focused on promotion. Instead, your goal is to keep the event in the forefront of your readers’ minds.

Kirsty E. Smith
Kirsty E. Smith, Angie, 2009. Mixed media sculpture. ©The Artist

2. If your event is out of town, search for bloggers and artists on Facebook in that area. Send them personal messages saying you’ll be in their town and extending an initial invitation. It’s more fun to travel for business when you are going to know others at your destination.
3. One to two months out, send a “Save the Date” notice in an email message to those who have opted in for your email list.
4. One month out, post the details as an Event on Facebook and LinkedIn.
5. Two weeks out, send a postcard invitation to your mailing list with all of the event details. Remember with your messages that you are inviting people—not commanding them–to attend. I think we forget sometimes to issue polite invitations.
6. One week out, start tweeting about the event on Twitter at least once a day. Be careful not to become a pest.
7. Two days prior to the event, send an email reminder.
FINAL WORD: You can’t send one announcement for your art event and expect it to be effective. We’re busy people! We need to be reminded. Mix up your delivery methods as described above, and you’ll be much more effective with your promotions.

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9 thoughts on “Get the Word Out Early and Often”

  1. Following your advice I’ve tried really hard to have a solid PR plan in place for shows over the last year or so. And I do think it works! 🙂
    Can I add something you’ve overlooked? Press releases. Write one and submit it to a zillion online sites! Not just press sites but tourism/visitors sites, event listings, craigslist, local blogs, gumtree, etc. Email it to local press. This is actually really easy to do and aiming for 4-6 weeks ahead is about the timescale to aim for. (with exceptions, for example Time Out wants things 2 weeks before the event) This has had some great results for me, including our local open studios event getting into some city produced leaflets at no cost. 🙂
    And I’m going to disagree on one little point – send postcards earlier. 2 weeks ahead and most people have planned their weekends already. A very successful London artist talked to a women’s artist society and said she sends postcards 4 weeks ahead, so I’ve taken up her advice.

  2. I have participated in a charitable event who now has me on the mailing list. The frequency of contact has gotten annoying. I’m obviously supportive of the cause but I have become resentful of the organization because of what feels like an overly aggressive fund raising campaign. I understand why they are so aggressive, yet I wonder if they are doing as much harm as good. The timelines suggested here, and the spread (including the Press Release comments) seem ok but has anyone checked with the patrons to see if they feel they are being bombarded?
    We do want to get the word out but we don’t need to be pests, where is the balance?

  3. This is a great scheduled list. It’s such an easier time to promote a show. I always thought it was more difficult and expensive “in the olden days”.
    Thanks – I took my notes and will follow this list for my next showing.

  4. I have a question – do you think you should also promote things like your art being featured in a cafe for a month or that you will be at an upcoming street festival. Do you think its a good idea to promote these things together? Should I pretty much try to do as much as possible?
    Thanks for your advice!

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  7. Alyson Stanfield

    Tina: You can always add to what I say because I don’t consider that I’m writing a totally complete article. That’s what this space is for. Press releases ARE great. Just remember that they’re not just for the press, but also for bloggers.
    As for sending the postcard out, I think it depends on how far away it is. If you send a “Save the Date” notice earlier, isn’t it okay to wait to send the postcard?
    Lori: If you ask people, they’re never going to say that sending 3-4 reminders is okay. I think the key with this timeline is that you’re not pitching a sale or asking for money. You’re just inviting them to an event. I think there’s a difference.
    Jennifer: I hope I get an invite!
    Elisabeth: You got it. Do as much as possible. It’s easier to promote a dated event (opening, closing receptions, etc.). An invitation and a “see this before the show comes down” reminder might work well.

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