Publicity and promotions are a distinct focus of your chorus's marketing strategy with the purpose of getting the media to advertise your concerts or attend your events. The key to publicity success is making your organization and your events "newsworthy" and building relationships with media contacts. So how do you start?
Hiring a Publicist
A good first step is to consider hiring a publicist. It’s important to try to build real relationships with the media. If they know you, they are more likely to pay attention to your emails and write about your chorus. If they don’t know you, your emails will come across as "spammy." Publicists already have established relationships with media in the area - they have done the preliminary work for you. If your chorus has the budget to hire someone, search for publicists in your area who specialize in the performing arts. Publicists offer a variety of services, so you’ll want to decide on which areas you’d like them to focus. Ask for specific examples of their work and for a quote based on the services you require.
Compile a List of Media Contacts
If you don’t hire a publicist, you’ll likely need to conduct research on your own. Do some research in your area to compile a list of media contacts from local newspapers, TV stations, radio stations, and music departments/schools. Do not use this list as an email blast list! But rather, use this list as a way of simply keeping track of the various media opportunities available to you.
Network with the Media
Try to find opportunities to meet and network with journalists or important musical figures in your area. Join your local choral consortia or media/entertainment groups, when possible, to get to know these contacts. Send around any networking events to your board and volunteer committees to find a chorus representative to attend.
Media Outlets and Opportunities
Research your local newspapers, journalists, and reviewers who cover the arts in your area. Send press releases and invite them to review your performances.
Compile a list of local radio stations, any specific broadcasts that focus on the arts, and any advertising opportunities available. Try to get into arts programming for interviews with chorus leadership.
When you have a newsworthy event, contact local news anchors to try to get publicity at the event.
Try looking for advertising or listing opportunities in print magazines, Chamber of Commerce city guides, or concert programs for other arts organizations.
Look into advertising opportunities in arts-centered e-newsletters/blasts, online magazines, social media, and arts websites in your area.
Tap into the potential reach of your fellow arts organizations. Use any existing choral consortia to help market your events, add your events to any arts calendars, or suggest ad swaps for concert programs.
Telling Your Story
We’ve already covered developing your chorus’s brand. Once you know your organization’s story, then it’s important to share that with the media. The media isn’t interested in hearing about your events unless there is something newsworthy about them. Are you raising money for a charity? Are you programming something new or unique? Are you taking a standard choral concert and transforming it into something else? Are you collaborating with a guest conductor or ensemble? Will a celebrity be in attendance? Decide for each concert and event what the story is that you want to tell. For every press release, every piece of content you create, tap into the human emotion with your storytelling abilities to deliver the organization’s purpose and mission.
Tips for Sending Press Releases
Once you have your story, write a press release and send to your media contacts.
- Do not email blast your list of contacts. Customize your pitch for each news outlet.
- Pitch your story, not your organization.
- Include something newsworthy in your press release.
- Highlight other work the journalist wrote that is similar to your organization’s work.
- Include links to your website, Facebook events, or other digital sites with event information.
- Create a catchy subject line to entice opens.
- Get on a first-name-basis with your local media contacts by introducing yourself via networking events, email, or phone.
Tori Cook is the former Director of Sales & Marketing at Chorus Connection, an active board member of the Greater Boston Choral Consortium, and a soprano with the Tanglewood Festival Chorus. In a past life, she was the Music Director of the Harborlight Show Chorus and President of Chorus pro-Musica. When not making music, she daydreams about adopting a golden retriever puppy and scuba diving to exotic locations around the world.