How Artists Should Pitch Interviews

Artists suck at PR. No, really. They do.

Last week I sent out a query to the Help A Reporter mailing list saying that I would like to interview artist entrepreneurs who believe that the starving artist is a myth. I specified that I wanted to hear from artists who are financially successful entrepreneurs.

I received 150+ responses within six hours.

I am excited because I have received some amazing emails from some artists who are doing things that just blow my mind. I really cannot express how grateful I am for the opportunity to talk to some of these creative luminaries.

That said, those amazing emails were a very small minority. Perhaps 120 of those emails were not pitched well…or pitched at all for that matter. If you are serious about getting some press coverage, here are some tips for when you contact reporters, bloggers, and other media producers.

Read what the producers are looking for and make sure you are a good fit. I was looking for financially successful entrepreneurs. That may be a vague term, but artists who are “managing to scrape by” are not a good fit for this pitch. Media producers are usually looking to tell a specific story. You have to make sure you are making their life easier, not harder.

Respond immediately. I received 150+ emails. In six hours. How many do you think I actually read all the way through? Most likely the ones I got first. Producers have deadlines and schedules. The early bird gets the worm.

Tell a compelling story. Did you just get a $100,000 grant? Did your company do $1 million last year? Did Ben Brantley rave over your work? Tell that story and how it grew your success. “I’ve been a painter for 20 years and am passionate about my work,” is not interesting or unique. All of those things appeared in emails I received. Bonus points if you can tell the producer how your story will fit in to what they are doing. Make their job easier.

Keep it short. Tell your story in two or three sentences. Leave a bio after your pitch if you must, but don’t share your 20 year history. A compelling bio highlight the best of your awards and accomplishments.

Leave contact info. Even if it’s on email, you should include your email address, phone number, and best time to contact. You’d think this was a given…but…see that first sentence again.

Follow up politely. Following up to see if the producer got our pitch is fine, but don’t expect them to take the time to respond to every email or phone call.

PR Agencies suck too. You should ask your PR agency to see the pitches they’ve sent out on your behalf recently. Just because they work in PR doesn’t mean they’re good at it. Just ask the Help A Reporter people how many PR people get booted from the list every week. Some of the worst off-topic pitches I received were from PR agencies.

Artists have a distinct advantage in PR. They are inherently interesting. Even though I’ve been a little harsh in this blog post, I read almost all of the emails because so many of the artists were so interesting. The creativity of the human race constantly surprises and overwhelmes me.

Any questions about how to pitch?

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