SWAN Day – Publicity Basics

Your Publicity Goals

There are three goals for your SWAN Day publicity:

  • Selling tickets or getting people to come to your event
  • Getting the press and the public to talk about women artists
  • Having fun

Here are some tips on accomplishing each of these goals.

Getting People to Come to Your Event

To get people to come to your event, the most important thing is to make sure that they know about it and that they remember to come.  Always be sure that any publicity you send out has all the information people will need in order to come – the date, time, location, price (if any), directions, and a phone number or email address for additional information.

If you are doing a small event with your friends, call or send them an email or snail mail announcement a couple of weeks in advance. Then call or send them a reminder a day or so before the event. Social networking sites like Facebook make it easy to create an invitation for your event and to remind your friends about it the day before.

If you want members of the general public to come, the same principles apply – you want them to hear about it a few weeks in advance, and then you want to remind them a day or so before the event.  If you have email or snail mail lists, you can use them to let people know about your event.  You should also try to get announcements into local newspapers, on television and radio, and onto any internet sites that seem appropriate.  Often, local newspapers have online event listings that are more extensive than their print versions.

Contacting women who blog about the arts in your area is a great way to get some extra publicity; most likely, they will be interested in announcing your SWAN Day event (see the WomenArts News Room for a sampling of some of our favorite bloggers).  And of course, there’s the tried and true method of making a really cool poster and/or flyer to put up around town and pass out to people you talk to.

Remember to tell people about your event!  Word of mouth is still one of the most effective publicity methods out there.  Tell everyone you talk to about your event, even people you don’t think would be interested.  You may be surprised at who ends up attending – and you may just open someone’s eyes to a wonderful world of women artists that they never knew about!

Put Your Announcements in Places You Would Look

When you are thinking about where to put your announcements, think about where you look when you want to find out what is going on. Is there a paper in your town that has the best calendar?  Is there a radio station you listen to or a television news show that you watch?  Do you always check a favorite blog? Do you have a page on MySpace or Facebook?

In addition, you can put up posters and/or leave stacks of flyers for your event at places where your target audience gathers: cafes, bars, bookstores, music stores, theatre lobbies, galleries, and other places that artists and people who appreciate the arts hang out.  Think about places you like to go to see arts events, and put flyers there.  You want to focus your energy on getting announcements about your event into the places where you and your potential audience members are most likely to look.

Get Free Publicity

If you are on a tight budget – make sure that you are taking full advantage of any free listings or coverage that you can get.

  • Community Calendar Listings – Most newspapers, radio stations and television stations offer free community calendars.  Visit their website or call them and ask how you can submit an event.  Often you will be able to submit your event online or by fax.  Begin this process a month or so in advance so that you can get into monthly as well as daily publications.
  • Press Releases and Pictures – If you are doing a public event, make sure that you send press releases to all your local news outlets.  We will post a sample press release soon that you can modify for your project.  If possible, send a picture with your press release.  If you have a great picture, papers will often publish it. Many news rooms are under-staffed these days, so if your press release is well written, the paper may publish it with only minor revisions.  If they do publish your press release or picture, remember to call or email to thank them for the coverage.
  • Getting Feature Coverage Before the Event – In general, you will get more attention, more coverage and better placement in the newspaper or on radio, television or the internet if you can persuade a reporter to write a story about your event.  Reporters are often overworked so you need to make it as easy as possible for them to figure out an angle that will make their story interesting.

Do some research to figure out who is the best reporter to approach.  You are looking for people who cover arts, women’s issues, community news or human interest stories. Once you have found the best candidates for your kind of story, call the paper to get that reporter’s direct phone number or email address. Count on not reaching the reporter and having to make 2 or 3 calls to get through.

SWAN Day Story Ideas to Pitch to A Reporter

Here is one way to start your conversation with a reporter:  “My group is participating in the seventh international Support Women Artists Now Day celebration and I want to talk to you about why we are doing it.”

Tell reporters that they can read all about SWAN Day at www.WomenArts.org/swan/ and that they can see listings of SWAN events on our SWAN Calendar.  Be sure to mention that SWAN Day is being celebrated across the U.S. and in many foreign countries. More events are being added every day.

You need to find a specific story idea that fits your project. Here are some ideas to get you started – use your imagination to expand on them.  If you are calling a reporter, you will need to get them hooked in the first minute, so you want to pick one or two main ideas to pitch.

  • Women Artists Are Creating Change – SWAN Day is designed to focus attention on the ways that women artists contribute to their communities around the world.  Think of a way that your group is contributing to your community, and talk to the reporter about that.  Does your art bring new perspectives to world or community issues?  Does it help people understand each other better?  Are you using your SWAN Day event to raise money for women artists in your community? Figure out at least one specific example that you can explain to the reporter in one or two sentences.
  • Women Are Proud of Being Artists – By doing a SWAN Day event, you are showing that you believe in the power of the arts.  The arts are severely underfunded in the U.S. and many women artists make substantial financial sacrifices to do their art, but we know that we are doing valuable work.
  • Women Artists Want International Understanding – In these war-torn times, women artists are reaching out to each other on SWAN Day.  Sharing art is a wonderful way to learn about other countries and cultures.  If you are interested in exchanging letters or art items with women artists in other countries, write to us and we will try to help you.  If you are doing an exchange, you can tell the reporter about that.
  • Women Artists Are Inspiring – Are there women who have inspired or helped your work?  You can tell the reporter that you are doing your SWAN Day event in honor of that woman, whether it is another artist, a teacher, a co-worker, or a relative.

Getting Coverage on the Day of the Event

To get the reporters or reviewers to attend your event, be sure to send them a reminder two or three days before the event.  Then, call each reporter on your list and ask them to contact you with any questions.

You will have a much better chance of getting them to come if you can arrange some sort of photo opportunity at your event.  Here are some ideas:

  • Post a big banner outside or do some part of your event outdoors as a parade or rally.
  • Ask your mayor to make a proclamation in honor of SWAN Day and ask him or her to come to your event to read it.
  • Honor a community leader who has helped women artists at your event and get a picture of them surrounded by women artists.

If the reporters don’t come, be sure to take lots of pictures and videos yourself.  You can send photos to your local papers along with a press release describing the event.  A lot of the smaller newspapers don’t have the resources to send a reporter but they will print the release that you send.  It is worth a follow up call to see if this is possible.

Remember to Have Fun!!

SWAN Day is a celebration of the power of women artists.  The more you use your imagination and creativity, the more fun it will be for everyone involved!!