5 Mistakes that Get Press Rejections Every Time
What artists should avoid when seeking press coverage – and what to do instead.
As a blogger, I’m considered a member of the press. Consequently, I hear from a lot of artists (and others) who are looking for publicity and exposure. Unfortunately, many of them make serious mistakes in their efforts and communications, and yet they are not even aware of it. They end up sabotaging themselves rather than making a good impression.
Are you an artist who wants to get coverage in a magazine, blog or other outlet? Ask yourself if you are making any of the following mistakes when reaching out to the press:
Mistake #1: You have no clear idea whether you are truly relevant to the publications you contact. Instead, you try a “scattershot” approach of sending an email out to a mailing list of press members to see if you can get any bites – from anyone, for any reason.
What to do instead: Start by researching your niche to find publications and blogs that are an excellent match for what you do. Then, actually read them. What is their style, and what type of articles do they publish? Know why you would be a good fit, and why your story or portfolio would be an asset to them. Use this information in your initial contact, by letting them know you understand them and what they do. Then, briefly describe why their publication should have an interest in you.
Mistake #2: You begin your email with a greeting like “Hi there” because you don’t even know the name of the person you are trying to contact.
What to do instead: This major mistake is an insult to the press member, and usually results in getting flushed immediately. Imagine being the recipient of such an email. The writer didn’t bother to take the time to learn your name, but they are expecting you to use your valuable time to respond, interview them, and write about them! If you have made this mistake in the past, vow never to do it again. Make it a point to learn who to contact – their name, title, and what they do. Then, completely customize each and every email you send out to that person. Every time you go the extra mile, it will be noticed.
Mistake #3: You wait until the last minute to attempt to get into an article or promote an upcoming event.
What to do instead: Learn the lead time needed with different publications, and use that as your guide. If you are looking to get covered by a magazine, for example, check their editorial calendar to view future articles, and reach out to the reporter or editor well in advance. If you discover an opportunity where a publication or blog is looking for artist submissions, do so promptly. Using a service like HARO? Read queries carefully, and get your pitch in before the deadline. Otherwise, you will be overlooked.
Mistake #4: You don’t have excellent images of your art, process or yourself, so you cannot provide them or end up scrambling at the last minute.
What to do instead: This is a huge problem that gets artists rejected all the time. If the photos of your artwork are overexposed, blurry, have inappropriate backgrounds or other problems, do not even attempt to get press yet. Get this fixed first. No magazine or blog wants to use poor photos. It makes them look bad, and it makes you look bad. Have your work professionally photographed for purposes of press coverage. Got fantastic shots of your art that look like they belong in a magazine? Then you are ready!
Mistake #5: You got busy and forgot to follow up with materials or needed information on time for publication. Oops!
What to do instead: If you fail to produce what is needed on time, you will likely be blacklisted, and for good reason. When you pursue press coverage, you are committing to following through on any projects you work on with the writer. Communicate clearly so that you understand their priorities, and make sure you have the timeline on your calendar. Check in with any questions, and confirm that everything you sent has been received. Better yet, be an early bird and submit all materials before the deadline.
Have you gotten press coverage as an artist? What recommendations would you give to others who also want publicity?
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