Building Blocks: Publicity with Skip Cohen

SM_Blog_SCohen-Large

Building Blocks: Publicity with Skip Cohen

 

Want more information on this article? Get access to video content and additional supporting images. Launch the September issue of the magazine by logging in or signing up for a free account by clicking here. Shutter Magazine is the industry’s leading professional photography magazine. ­

 

With each Building Block over the past few months, I’ve introduced another ingredient to building a stronger business. This month, we’re going to talk about publicity. Building a strong business isn’t as much about who you know, but who knows you.

 

While there are dozens of ways to get your name out there, from networking to community involvement to your blog, this month we’re just going to talk about press releases and publicity.

 

Too often, you see a picture in the local paper or read about one of your competitors online and think the exposure is random. Well, it’s not. The days of news photographers wandering around looking for stories is long gone. You have to be the one to get the word out, not only to the various publications but the various relevant businesses and, essentially, the majority of your address book.

 

What am I going to write about?

 

The first thing I always hear is, “But Skip, there’s nothing going on here to write about!”

 

First, it doesn’t have to be a jaw-dropping event to be newsworthy and interesting to people. Plus, we’re not writing a novel, typically just 200 to 400 words with a photograph or two, so it can’t hurt to try.

 

Here are some examples of things you can promote:

 

  • You just added large-format printing to the services you offer.
  • You’ve diversified your skill set or partnered with another photographer, and are expanding into another specialty. Say you’re a wedding photographer, but now offer family portraits.
  • You’re launching a seasonal promotion for a limited time.
  • You’ve hired another photographer or formed an existing partnership with another artist.
  • Your new website is ready to launch.
  • You just came back from a great workshop or convention, and want to share things you’re doing that make you one of the best photographers in the area.
  • You’re working with a new lab or frame company. Or, your current vendors are offering some exciting new products.
  • Your business is growing, and a family member is about to join you in the business.
  • You just participated in a nonprofit event in your community with a leading charity.

 

The list goes on. Don’t think of the topics of your press releases as being worthy of a Pulitzer Prize. Odds are they’re not, but they are of interest to the audience you’re trying to reach.

 

Who should receive my press releases?

 

People never think about whom they want to share the news with. All they think about is whether or not the local press will run it.

 

Develop a press list with the actual names of the people you want to contact. People tend to think that just sending things addressed to the editor is enough, but you need a real name on the front of the envelope.

Your press releases should also go to local newspapers and entertainment magazines, but also organizations like the Chamber of Commerce. Organizations like Kiwanis, Rotary and Exchange Club all have newsletters—and lots of members. Churches and temples often have newsletters as well. Then there are countless blogs—often good local ones—and industry-specific publications such as bridal magazines. And don’t forget your hometown paper if you’ve moved away but still have roots in the community.

 

And of course there’s social media. Share the release far and wide on forums and platforms like Facebook.

Advertisement

 

How do I write a press release?

 

Writing a press release is only as tough as you make it. You need to be able to express yourself with the written word. If writing is a challenge, look around your community for a passionate high school or college kid who’s an A student in English. You might also consider talking with the head of the English department at a high school. Teachers often moonlight on projects like this.

 

If you have the resources, I’m a big fan of “right-sourcing,” an expression I picked up years ago from Jeff Jochum. Hire a publicist with writing skills and an understanding of the various reach engines like PR Newswire and PRWeb.

 

In terms of the release itself, it’s going to have a headline and a summary paragraph to start. Then you should have a paragraph or two that make up the main body of the release. It’s good to have at least one quote here, and then close with an “about” paragraph letting people know where to find you.

 

The headline and the summary paragraph are the most important because many publications, especially online PR services, will publish only your summary. PRWeb prefers just three sentences.

 

Press Release Templates

 

Here are three different releases. You’re perfectly welcome to plagiarize away. The format of all of them is the same. For the first one, I’ve filled in the blanks as if I were the studio releasing the news.

 

  1. Press Release: Cause-Related Marketing

 

For Immediate Release

 

Your City, Today’s Date

 

____________(Your Studio) Launches Charity Drive for _________ (name the charity)

 

To better support the fight against __________(disease), __________(you or your studio) has launched an extensive promotional offer on all children’s portraits during the month of ___________(month). They’ll be contributing ___________($) for every children’s portrait sitting.

 

“Children are what our business is all about! There’s no such thing as enough support for the incredible work being done by the various institutions to fight the tragedy of kids stricken with ____________ (disease). As a parent myself and a photographer who’s active in the community, we decided it was time to be more proactive!” said __________(your name), owner of ___________ (your studio).

___________(Your Name) is the founder of ___________(your studio), located at _____________(address). The studio offers a full range of _______________(portrait, wedding, children’s, etc.) services.

 

For more information, contact: ________________________________Your name, phone and email address

 

Include a photograph of you and a child interacting during a children’s portrait session.

 

Finished Example

 

For Immediate Release

 

Sarasota, Florida, September 1, 2015

 

Today’s Portraits Launches Charity Drive to Help Fight Pediatric AIDS

 

In an effort to better support the fight against AIDS, Today’s Portraits has launched an extensive promotional offer on all children’s portraits during the month of November. They’ll be contributing $50 for every children’s portrait sitting.

 

“Children are what our business is all about! There’s no such thing as enough support for the incredible work being done by the various institutions to fight the tragedy of pediatric AIDS. As a parent myself and a photographer who’s active in the community, we decided it was time to be more proactive!” said Skip Cohen, owner of Today’s Portraits.

Skip is the founder of Today’s Portraits, located at 1312 Lincoln Blvd in Sarasota. The studio offers a full range of portrait services, specializing in children’s photography.

 

For more information, contact: Skip Cohen, 941-451-8777, skip@gmail.com.

 

  1. Press Release: New Equipment

(Sometimes the simplest of ideas can make a good press release.)

 

For Immediate Release: New Equipment

 

Your City, Today’s Date

 

Area Photographer Stays Cutting-Edge

 

In (his/her) nonstop efforts to consistently provide cutting-edge photographic services to his clients, (your name) recently added a new (type of product) to (his/her) tools of the trade that make (him/her) one of the leading professional photographers in the area.

 

“Technology doesn’t stand still, and we want to make sure we offer only the very best to our clients. With the new (product), we now have the ability to provide our clients with instant fulfillment on all of their photographic needs,” commented (your name).

 

(Your name) is the founder of (your studio), located at (address). The studio offers a full range of (portrait, wedding, children’s, etc.) services.

 

For more information, contact: Your name, phone and email address.

 

Include a photograph of you and a client or staff member looking at the new printer, camera, etc.

 

  1. Video Holiday Cards and Announcements

 

For Immediate Release

Your City, Today’s Date

Area Photographer Adds Video Holiday Cards to Services

 

Technology is constantly changing, and ______________ is taking full advantage of everything photography today has to offer.

“There’s so much that’s changed in technology over the last few years, especially in photography. We now have the ability to offer our clients so much more than just photographs. Putting together still images with short video clips gives our clients the ability to customize their message to family and friends in a way that’s so much more fun than just sending out a holiday card. We want to make sure our clients get only the best in service and products,” commented _____________ of __________.

 

_______________ is the founder of _________(your studio name), located here in ______________. The studio offers a full range of (commercial portrait, wedding, children’s, etc.) services.

 

[Or use: _________ plans on continuing as a freelance photographer…etc. You don’t have to have an address for people—you just want to let them know you’re in the community.]

For more information, contact: Your name, phone and email address.

 

How do I send out a release? How do I get my message out there?

 

You’ve got four basic choices, and I suggest you use them all.

 

  • When you use any of the online resources, like PR Newswire, you’ll load in your copy and images, specify the publications you want it sent to and schedule the release date.
  • With local publications like a daily newspaper, I like to send a hard copy of the written release and images, along with digital copies on a disc.
  • I’m a huge fan of emails to your database.
  • Last on the list, use your social media reach and put the link to the release in a post on all your active social media sites, especially Facebook and Twitter.

 

Final words

 

I hope I’ve gotten you thinking about the importance of publicity. I don’t want to turn you into publicity machines and take time away from building your skill set and marketing. But I do want you to understand the potential it can bring to building brand awareness. What’s most important is that you become proactive, whether it’s DIY or through a staff member or a publicist.

 

Most important of all, stop thinking there’s nothing of interest going on in your business. Every day there’s something you can write about. Use your network to build relationships with the movers and shakers in your community.

 

Want more information on this article? Get access to video content and additional supporting images. Launch the September issue of the magazine by logging in or signing up for a free account by clicking here. Shutter Magazine is the industry’s leading professional photography magazine. ­

Close Menu

Building Blocks: Publicity with Skip Cohen

with behindtheshutter time to read: 9 min
0
×

Cart

Share
Tweet
+1
Share
Pin1
1 Shares