Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Creative 'PR' Ways to Help Build Your Career (Without Being A Superstar)

By Chuck Whiting
Music City Arts Network

         Everyday, I peruse a number of media websites to learn about artist opportunities and accomplishments for posting on the various Music City Arts Network social networking pages. For me, it's a joy to see the accomplishments fellow artists, organizations and friends are having. For example, former Nashvillian/actress Annie Sims just landed a role in the new TV series "American Crime Story". Songwriter/musician Bryan Cumming of The WannaBeatles now has his own jazz show in Nolensville. Songwriter/educator Deanna Walker is once again leading the "Blair Hit Songwriter Series". I could go on-and-on, but the point here is that all of these wonderful artists are actively pursuing opportunities (dreams) and sharing their good news with the world (while blessing others).

         If you're not a well-known artist, don't despair. There are many things you can do to help build your career (without being a superstar), while taking advantage of the many PR opportunities out there. Here are a few to-dos on my own list.

         * Find a niche that no one else has. Joyce Rouse (Earth Mama) is saving planet Earth one day at a time. What are you doing?

         * Collaborate with others (don't compete with them). We are all in this together. What greater delight than to see a fellow artist succeed. Give, and give more. "Like, share and follow."

         *  Learn from others. Take advantage of the many educational opportunities (some free) that Music City has to offer. Tons of them are happening all the time.

         *  Get out to support your friends. They will never forget your contributions to their success.

         * Explore other areas of the arts. Go to the opera (yes... you heard me right), attend an opening at Haynes Galleries on Music Row, or head over to Scarritt-Bennett for a poetry reading. It will enrich your understanding and approach to how you express and/or create your art. And you'll meet some amazing people, too. (I'm always inspired to write when I visit the Frist for an exhibition or the Wilson County Fair to buy my grits.)

         * Expand your social networking horizon. Facebook is a wonderful way to build and connect with communities of artists around the world. You can do the same thing with other social networks such as Twitter (a great way to receive/share career-changing information), Linked In (a connector for professionals and businesses in every field), Instagram (photos of what you're doing now), and You Tube (uploading videos and subscribing to video channels).

         * Don't forget the news media. Face it. Well-known artists have a clear advantage when it comes to landing a big story. Hey... some of the publicists on Music Row don't even know how to write (Sorry y'all, but I've been reading some of your press releases). But there are plenty of opportunities out there if you're willing to roll up your sleeves and get to work. Events are generally guaranteed to land calendar mentions in a host of media, and there are a bunch of online bloggers looking for news. I use my own blog (Music City Arts Update) to help in the cause.

         * When it comes to the digital world, it's easy to become intimidated. But it has become a necessary way to share your good news (and connect) with the world, and things are changing constantly. I've found that taking baby steps leads to bigger steps (and more confidence). Take each step one day (or week) at a time. Google has a wealth of tips on how to set up your various social networking pages and features... from Facebook and Twitter to You Tube and Instagram. You'll be amazed at what you can find.

         * Read... books, magazines, newspapers... anything you can get your hands on. That will inspire you to create with original ideas.

         * Perform... Don't be shy. Get out to let people hear you (and encourage you).

         * Don't believe everything you hear. Remember that there are a lot of people who have their own subjective opinions, and not all of them are accurate. When it comes down to it, we need to learn how to recognize what's true, build on our strengths, let our weaknesses be strengths, and believe in ourselves. We are all works in progress (even Barbra Streisand said that).

         * Share your expertise in the form of a blog. It will help others while boosting your credibility as an artist.

         * Finally... on the PR/publicity front, be sure that your process is professional, presenting a "tried and true" representation of you. Be original, and try to do what the reporters do. Find a strong, newsworthy hook; present your information clearly; follow the Associated Press Stylebook (to make it easier for reporters); and send your press releases out to a host of targeted news media operations. It may not happen at first, but in time the editors and producers will start to notice you. As I said above, baby steps lead to bigger things. Do nothing, and something rarely happens. Do something professionally in earnest (without overwhelming others), and success comes sooner than later.

         Thanks for reading this! There are many more tips I could share... stay tuned for more. In the meantime, please connect with me (and share your good arts news) at http://www.Facebook.com/MusicCityArts or Twitter @MusicCityArts... and check out my blog at http://www.MusicCityArtsUpdate.com.



Chuck Whiting is a long-time publicist and journalist who runs the monthly event "Tunesmithing" at the Aloft Hotel on West End.Visit his PR website at www.WhitingPublicity.com.

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