Monday, July 26, 2010

How to get FREE press!

Ever wondered how some people always seem to manage to get those good stories written about them? On the road to Canberra the other day, this question was brought home to me loudly and clearly!

I was able to drop in to see a little gallery in a tidy and friendly village where I regularly stop for decidedly yummy apricot slice and creamy coffee! Today, the gallery was open, so having a bit of time to spare and being the super sleuth that I imagine myself to be, I popped in.

A pleasant enough woman stood at the counter and engaged me in conversation. Bright with curiosity, she asked me where I came from, so with my writer's hat on, I whipped out my business card and told her I was in search of stories and would like to perhaps write the gallery up on my blog.

With hardly a glance at the card, the blinds came down and the shutters went up and in a stern voice, I was informed that the gallery didn't advertise and wasn't interested. No, I couldn't take a photo as I might steal someone's copyright, etc blah blah blah.....

After getting off my left foot which had mysteriously become glued to the floor, I managed to assure her that I wasn't there to sell her anything, that I really was trying to familiarise myself with the local arts goings on.

After a rather awkward and lengthy round of general questions about the gallery, I was finally allowed to take a photo and I beat a hasty retreat to the safety of my car. As I drove down the road, I composed a nice positive story about the gallery and the work I had seen but my gut instincts and over-riding emotions won out and this is the story that has demanded to come forth - so just a few words for those of you who have ever wondered "How come some people get all the press?"

When someone approaches your gallery, shop, studio and hands you a business card, do take some time to actually read the card and understand 'why' they are there. A friendly smile and co-operation on some level cannot hurt; a warm hand-shake, a cuppa offered, a question or two about the person all would lighten and brighten everyone's day and make a good impression of you and your space.

I for the life of me can't understand why someone can't see the difference between the words "editor" and "sales" - my business card clearly states "arts editor" - now in my world that means a person who writes stories - and that is an opportunity!

Taking me off at the knee just in case I ram an advertising schedule down your reluctant throat, doesn't help to advance your story.

Some people have a press ready file available with current stories, recent press clippings, photos that can be used in both digital and print format available at all times just in case an opportunity arises - think about putting one together today, duplicate x 3 or 4 copies, hand it out with a generous heart before you leap into aggressive and assertive action to oust the 'intruder'!

Now it may be that 'madam of the gallery' didn't like the look of me. I am quite an imposing woman at 6 feet tall. I can cut quite a ludicrous site to the more conservative of us with my colourful Zandra Rhodes hair and jeans that are worn at the hems, not quite right for a woman of my age I am sure some must exclaim! But I am who I am and as I am comfortable with that, then to meet with a disapproving stare and judgmental glance of 'madam director' was a clear indication to an artist and arts writer that indeed this was not a creative space.

For the most part, galleries are fun filled, laughter enclosed spaces where people are free to express themselves as they look at and are intrigued by the freedom of expression and abundant views of the artists represented.

My advice is, if you accidentally stumble into a conservative space and are met with the type of reception I got, then turn and run for yur life as quickly as you can.

The gallery will remain anonymous, the experience will never be forgotten. Unfortunately the artists represented, although on the safe and conservative side, were quite affordable and collectible but their stories are safely being guarded by 'madam director' - some people should never have made the 'tree-change'!

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