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Building a New Foundation in 2020: Part IV – Becoming a Publicity Machine

This is Part IV in ideas to help you build a new foundation for your business. Once again, the pandemic created a long list of challenges in maintaining your presence as an artist and business owner. Then, added to the fear of the coronavirus, so many photographers withdrew and, instead of maintaining a presence, disappeared into the background.

I’m not criticizing anybody – Sheila and I are in the most susceptible “old fart” category. At the beginning of the crisis, we were pretty much in the same boat as many of you – looking like deer caught in your headlights!

Well, it’s time to step up your game and get back in it, but it won’t happen by accident. That leaves you to be the one to start making some noise. Here are some ideas to help you become your own publicity machine.

  • Let’s start with cleaning up your database. Break it out into a few different groups.
    • Past Customers: Unless you behaved like a hockey puck, most of you have a pretty strong fan base of previous clients. Update your email list as well as the snail-mail addresses of all your clients over the past years. Go back as far as you feel is relevant.
    • Opinion Leaders in the Community: The next group in your database should be those people who are influencers in your community. It’s everybody from clergy to other business owners, educators, and even the mayor’s office.
    • Associations – Profit-driven and Non-profit: Every community has a list of groups providing some level of service to the area, either as charitable organizations or profit centers. Find out who runs each one and get them into your database.
    • Friends and Associates: They’ll become your best ambassadors.
    • Publications: Every community has some sort of online publication, and many still have hard copy products like magazines and newspapers. You want the editors, writers and publishers in your database.
  • Every week, even through the pandemic, there’s something newsworthy going on in your life, but you’re too close to your own work to realize it. That means you’ve got to take charge to recognize the opportunities and get the information out there.
  • What’s there to talk about?
    • Maybe you bought a new printer and now can offer instant fulfillment on rush jobs for your clients.
    • How about an online workshop you’re going to attend to expand your skill set?
    • What about the monthly meeting you attend of the local PPA chapter or photography guild? Many of these groups are regularly meeting online.
    • What are you doing that’s getting you involved in the community?
    • How about the new gear you bought to expand your expertise in different photography areas or the assistant you hired?
    • Are you partnering with other artists or vendors in offering unique services or products?
    • Are you offering new products? One call to Marathon or your lab and asking, “So, what’s new?” will give you a terrific list of new products to offer in imaging.
    • Are you teaching online? You’re the expert in photography – offer online classes to clients to help them take better photographs. Even if they’re only shooting with their cell phones, you’ve got the expertise to help them capture better images.

Send out an email blast twice a month for at least the first three months. If you can start NOW, that puts you in the spotlight as a leader in the community.

Along with the email blast, where appropriate with influencers, send out a hard copy. Even better is doing a follow-up with a phone call, at least with your first publicity release. And don’t forget the power of a snail-mail personalized and signed letter to your past clients. They’re your best potential ambassadors.

Don’t forget to include a photograph or video with each release – Not just of yourself, but you, interacting in support of an event or group in the community. And don’t forget to share each release as a blog post!

And if you’re still stuck on what to do, send me an email and I’ll do my best to define better what you need to be doing, skip@mei500.com.