As gallerists and art advisors, we’ve all had experience of promoting exhibitions and brands, but how can we do that effectively in a crowded media landscape? Where should we put our time and effort?
This was our top question when AWAD members, friends and partners met at the London Art Fair. We were delighted to be joined by artworld communications expert, Lisa Baker. Lisa is the founder of Lisa Baker Ltd, working with Art on a Postcard, The Other Art Fair, Woolwich Contemporary Print Fair, Women in Art and Reel Art Press. Lisa is also an Art Advisor to War Child UK. Lisa reassured us that it’s possible to make our communications both manageable and effective by focusing on our target audience. By knowing who we want to speak to and why, we can cut out the distraction. This means knowing what story we want to tell, to whom and in what depth.
Lisa believes that creating interesting and unique content is key to encouraging your audience to relate to you, your artist or your gallery. For example, you could say more about your journey into the arts and what drives you, or maybe you can connect to a relevant anniversary or topical issue. Stories about a studio visit or preparing for a fair can be a great way of engaging people, especially if they capture a new angle or a great image. Rather than simply promoting a ‘new show’, these backstories that contain colour and depth, can provide a compelling reason to visit an exhibition.
Lisa emphasised that gallerists should always make the most of their visual assets. A full press kit should be ready well ahead of the launch of an exhibition and include a link to hi-res versions of the best images. The lead in time for print media may be up to three months, so think what you can provide in time for the deadlines, such as studio or installation images or artist interviews.
When it comes to media coverage, one size doesn’t fit all. While press-releases definitely have their place, sending them out to a large number of contacts with little regard for media deadlines won’t have much impact. Instead, Lisa suggested researching your top thirty targets to find out what they want and to build relationships with journalists and the press, by following them on social media to discover what interests them.
Some AWAD members have benefited from collaborating on marketing efforts led local festivals, gallery weeks and walking tours. On the other hand, competing for attention during peak weeks in the art world calendar can mean your efforts are drowned out.
Given our discussion’s emphasis on ‘quality over quantity’, I’m sure we all agreed with Lisa’s final ‘golden nugget’, which was to focus on “who is my market and how do I talk to them?”
AWAD Members, Partners & Friends with Lisa Baker (centre) at the London Art Fair, January 2024