The Do’s and Don’ts of Press Releases for the Web

by Art Fag City on September 4, 2007 · 15 comments Events

ArtCal Redesign

Screengrab AFC

In case you’re wondering what the hell I’ve been doing all day, I invite you to take a gander at the five million opening listings for this week on ArtCal, the majority of which I personally uploaded. While you’re there you might also take a minute to admire the the new design, something I have to admit I’ve being doing all day myself. Most importantly I enjoy the new image and text layout, but in addition to the new look I also like their new featured artist section which exposes readers to new art. It’s also nice to see the Culture Pundits network feed, of which I am a part of.

Getting back to press releases, given the number I read on a daily basis, I now have a fairly good idea of the kind of exhibition I tend to remember. Not that anyone ever thinks to ask me about this, but for purely self serving interests, the following is a list of announcement attributes I like to see.

1. Basic listing information

DO:

  • Provide all pertinent show information in the header of your release. Centralize the name of the show, the artists participating (unless it’s a 100 person group show), the start date, the closing date, and reception date at the top of the page.

DON’T:

  • Provide incomplete listing information. Most frequent offender: The closing times aren’t listed or the opening reception time and start date aren’t specified.
  • Don’t thread the basic details of the exhibition throughout the release. It takes a lot of time to find that information, and chances are, for every one press person who you force to read through to find it, you’ll lose five.

2 . Ease of copy and paste-ability to release

DO:

  • My favorite method of receiving information is a release sent in the body of an email, or a link to a web page with complete information. It’s incredibly easy to copy and paste this way.

DON’T:

  • PDF’s are amongst my more loathed file formats. They may print out well, but since this information never leaves the web, they are pretty useless to a person like me. Once copied and pasted, the formating is always lost, which means I then I have to spend time fixing it.
  • Word documents are okay, but also not my favorite format. Embedded images in the document require screen captures if I want to use them though, which is more time consuming, as is anything I have to download (which some, not all, email services require.)
  • Tiffs, png’s and often gifs, tend not to be very useful. Again, unless I can copy an image straight from my browser, I’m usually less than thrilled with it. The more time it takes to prep an image the less happy I am.
  • Unneeded headings actually aren’t that useful. For example, placing the word “when” prior to the exhibition opening time isn’t necessary, and only means I have to copy and paste around it.
  • Don’t embed the text of your press release into an image. It renders the text uncopiable.

3. Images

DO:

  • A simple image no more than 500 pixels wide is perfect for web use.

DON’T:

  • Think big, but not too big. I work on the web, so I don’t need a print ready image. By contrast, I also don’t have much use for 100 x 100 pixel image; images the size of postages stamps are pretty limited in what they can tell you about a show, no matter how artfully they are placed in a press release.
  • Images made up only of the artist and title of a show don’t tell me much about it, and are therefore rather annoying. This kind of advertising might have been acceptable in print, since the cost of a postcard is greatly increased by the number of colors used, but there’s no reason to transport that standard to the web. It will only be redundant in a listing where the event information is filled out elsewhere.

4. The press release itself

DO:

  • Include the basic information first: the title of the exhibition, artist(s) participating, and the underlying concept.
  • Be concise.
  • Limit your release to 500 words. I never read anything longer than that in this form.

DON’T:

  • Fall prey to art bullshit speak. zzzzz

5. Websites

DO:

  • Maintain an up to date and easy to navigate website. If I like what I see in a press release I very often visit a website for additional images, biography, press and caption information. If this information is missing, it often means the difference of an artist being written about or not. More importantly, it’s much harder for curators to find work if it’s not online.

DON’T:

  • Make the mistake of thinking you can’t afford a website.

6. Sweetening the pot

DO:

  • It’s not all that necessary, but addressing any member of the press by name tends to win us over. At least pretend you’ve read a line or two from our blogs.

DON’T:

  • Spell our names wrong. I’m ashamed to say I’ve done it more than once, and nothing discredits you faster.

Look forward to Aft Fag City recommended openings tomorrow!

  • http://www.pocketutopia.com/ Austin

    Very helpful info. I’ll probably mention this in the new pocket utopia blog. Maybe I’ll see you at our opening on Friday!

  • http://www.pocketutopia.com/ Austin

    Very helpful info. I’ll probably mention this in the new pocket utopia blog. Maybe I’ll see you at our opening on Friday!

  • http://www.pocketutopia.com/ Austin

    Very helpful info. I’ll probably mention this in the new pocket utopia blog. Maybe I’ll see you at our opening on Friday!

  • http://www.pocketutopia.com/ Austin

    Very helpful info. I’ll probably mention this in the new pocket utopia blog. Maybe I’ll see you at our opening on Friday!

  • http://www.pocketutopia.com/ Austin

    Very helpful info. I’ll probably mention this in the new pocket utopia blog. Maybe I’ll see you at our opening on Friday!

  • Pingback: Personism » Blog Archive » links for 2007-09-05()

  • http://wizardishungry.com/blog/ Jon

    With respect to copy/pastability this little blurb is pretty interesting: http://www.brianoberkirch.com/2007/08/16/id-twit-it/

  • http://wizardishungry.com/blog/ Jon

    With respect to copy/pastability this little blurb is pretty interesting: http://www.brianoberkirch.com/2007/08/16/id-twit-it/

  • http://wizardishungry.com/blog/ Jon

    With respect to copy/pastability this little blurb is pretty interesting: http://www.brianoberkirch.com/2007/08/16/id-twit-it/

  • http://wizardishungry.com/blog/ Jon

    With respect to copy/pastability this little blurb is pretty interesting: http://www.brianoberkirch.com/2007/08/16/id-twit-it/

  • http://wizardishungry.com/blog/ Jon

    With respect to copy/pastability this little blurb is pretty interesting: http://www.brianoberkirch.com/2007/08/16/id-twit-it/

  • http://www.artistsmagazine.com/blog grace

    When I get an e-mail that says only “See attached press release” that almost guarantees an automatic delete.

    One other thing I’ve found rampant in e-mailed press releases (often from smaller galleries and educational institutions) is possibly the simplest thing: They include names, dates, times, contact info—but at no point in the press release or e-mail does it say what CITY it’s happening in. I’m not a mind reader.

  • http://www.artistsmagazine.com/blog grace

    When I get an e-mail that says only “See attached press release” that almost guarantees an automatic delete.

    One other thing I’ve found rampant in e-mailed press releases (often from smaller galleries and educational institutions) is possibly the simplest thing: They include names, dates, times, contact info—but at no point in the press release or e-mail does it say what CITY it’s happening in. I’m not a mind reader.

  • http://www.artistsmagazine.com/blog grace

    When I get an e-mail that says only “See attached press release” that almost guarantees an automatic delete.

    One other thing I’ve found rampant in e-mailed press releases (often from smaller galleries and educational institutions) is possibly the simplest thing: They include names, dates, times, contact info—but at no point in the press release or e-mail does it say what CITY it’s happening in. I’m not a mind reader.

  • Will Brand

    “Aft Fag City”! Hah! Patty your humor gets me every time.

Previous post:

Next post: