You’ve had this fabulous idea for an exhibition for over a year now.
You are lucky enough to get a space to show your images and, though it’s been a whirlwind, six months have passed and it’s now 3 months to the day before your exhibition opens.
If so, you’re probably working crazy hours thinking of ways to promote your exhibition, trying to make sure that somebody, at least, comes to see it after all the hard work you’ve put in.
You know there’s still a lot of work to do but you also know that without a little planning right at this time about how to attract attention to your exhibition, it might pass without a whisper.
By no means is this is about ensuring buyers for your work. No, this is all about the top 10 ways to get people in the door to begin with.
10 top ways to promote your next exhibition
- Create a press release for your show. Tried and true, this is an extremely useful tool to create. It helps you on many levels. Create a press release of just a couple of paragraphs with some background information specific to the exhibition and send it to local newspapers and websites.
- Once you’ve created a short promotional piece, make sure to send it to all your previous contacts. Even if they’ve never bought anything from you, chances are a few people from your list will visit the gallery, and who knows, maybe even one of them might part with some cash in exchange for a fabulously creative piece you’ve produced.
- Identify your market. For a successful promotional campaign you need to find whom your target audience is. Every one will be different. For example you might have put together a striking collection of native flora prints that you want to exhibit. Well, aside from the public who might like to look at beautiful images, you might consider targeting nurseries and botanic gardens for some promotional activities. These are places where people who like trees and flowers often visit.
- Make use of community notice boards. Very often opportunities to advertise your exhibition for free, or even at very little cost, are right under our noses and we forget about them. Look for online notice boards like weekend notes and what’s on in Sydney to promote. Mind you, the ‘whatson’ city of Sydney site will only permit listings of events within its local council frame-work. For events a little further out, other local councils have a similar thing in place so don’t forget to ask about it or check on your local council website.
- Advertise at other local spaces. Places like the local library, council buildings, schools and community halls make great places to place a simple flyers. Make sure you get all the right permissions though, before you place anything up, or you might end up having to take it all back down again. A little common courtesy often goes a long way.
- Do an interview. Volunteer to do an interview with the local media; newspaper or radio. In preparation, think about the ‘pitch’ you will use to garner interest. Remember the person with the most vested interest in your exhibition is you and everyone else needs to be made excited about attending the exhibition.
- Use social media. I should have made this number 1, not 7, but social media is a crucial part of your campaign. If you’re not social media savvy, make sure you seek out the services of someone who is so that they can help you with this aspect of promotion. It’s not enough to discard the thought of it just because YOU cannot make sense of the technology.
- Create a folio website and/or blog to show your best work and promote your exhibition. Make sure you regularly update both to keep them fresh and SEO ready.
- Network. Personal networking does work. An exhibition is a lot of work and in many ways it is a personal representation of what you think and feel about a subject. Make sure to tell everyone you meet that you have, or are just about to have an exhibition and always be ready with a card or a flyer with the exhibition details listed. Your life should not be so compartmentalized that one aspect doesn’t flow over to another. You are the sum of all those different aspects and you will often find that people who you never thought are interested in other facets of your personality. You never know when you might be talking to someone who collects exactly the type of photographic imagery that you specialize in. Networking can also mean getting to know other photographers as well. Your local association or photography club is a classic example of a place to build relationships with other photographers. There is great value in the support network photographers generate and they can often offer valuable advice so listen with your mouth closed and your mind wide open.
- Be generous with your time. A good exhibition can generate a lot of positive interest in what you are doing creatively so allow plenty of time to take each task on this list seriously and do each task to the best of your ability. Remember what you think and feel when you see an exhibition that doesn’t appear properly finished.
Of course this list is not complete and we could go on and on with lessons learned from previous experience.
We’d like to hear from you with your experiences on this subject as well, as no doubt we can all learn a thing or too.
Think about this; in which area did you fall down when preparing for your last exhibition, and how could you do it better?