Guide to Marketing the Arts
in Your Non-Profit Organization
Edited by Lisa M. Pue, June 2002
TABLE OF CONTENTS
I. Introduction……………………………….……………… 2
II. Basics of Marketing……………………………..…… 3
A. Product…………………………...………………….. 3
B. Place………………………………………………..…. 3
C. Price……………………………………….………..…. 3
D. People…………………………………………….….. 4
E. Promotion…………………………….……………... 4
III. Promotion………………….………………..…………. 5
A. Developing Promotional Materials………… 5
1. Artist/Organization-Centered Material…… 5
2. Event-Centered Material……………………….. 5
B. Alerting the Media…………..………………….. 5
1. Press Kit………………………………………………. 6
2. Public Service Announcement (PSA)………. 6
3. Press Release………………………………………. 7
4. Developing a Press List…………………………. 8
5. Event Fact Sheet…………………….…………….. 9
C. Alerting Audiences………...………….………… 9
1. Direct Marketing…………………………………... 9
2. Advertising…………………………………………… 11
3. Other Publicity Ideas…………………….…….… 12
IV. Other Resources………………………………..……. 14
Sample Promotional Material……………..…….…… Appendix 1
Sample Press Release…………………………………… Appendix 2
Sample Event Fact Sheet………………………….…… Appendix 3
If you present a program and no one comes, did it really happen?
Marketing is a fun and creative way to get your organization’s name out and increase your audience in
both number and diversity. And it does not have to be expensive. It can range from putting up a flyer at
the local grocery store to a series of newspaper ads, with a lot of room for creativity in between.
In this guide, we give you proven techniques and tips to make your organization more marketing-savvy,
increase your audience, and create a greater understanding about your organization in the community.
From the process of writing and sending out a press release to identifying and attracting new audiences,
we will lead you through the fundamentals of marketing and reveal both innovative and traditional ways
of attracting the attention of media, audience members, and the general public. The more creative you
are, the more fun and effective your marketing will be!
This guide leads you through the basics of marketing—covering product, place, price, people, and
promotion—that you must think through before even starting your promotion and publicity efforts.
Promotion (your flyers, ads, etc.) and publicity (what the media and others print about you) are given
special consideration, explaining various techniques and approaches that can be used for successful
We hope you that this guide will help you get your message out efficiently and vto a greater number of
This guide is supported, in part, with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs
Cultural Challenge Program and with matching funds from Con Edison, Lily Auchincloss Foundation, and
Heathcote Art Foundation.
II. BASICS OF MARKETING
Marketing is the process by which you come to understand the relationship between your organization
and its audience.
There are five basic “P”s of marketing: product, price, place, people, and promotion. While successful
promotion (advertising, PR, direct mail, e-mail marketing) is really the ultimate goal of marketing, it
should really be the last step in a larger strategic process. Product, price, place and people all need to be
in alignment for promotion to be effective.
When marketing your organization or event, it is useful to think of your art as a product that you can offer
to the public to consume, experience, enjoy, and reflect upon. You should package your product in
enticing language and imagery that attracts your target audience and focuses on how great the viewer’s
experience will be. Use language—consumer language, not just arts-related language—and imagery in
your marketing materials that best encompasses your art and attracts your audience.
Place refers not only to your organization’s location but also to its accessibility. Can your constituents
reach you easily? Is it convenient for them to buy tickets to your event? Does the signage clearly mark the
location? Are there alternate ways in which organization can reach the public?
In setting a monetary price for your event, you need to determine what your monetary goals are. Do you
want to cover your costs and break even? Or, do you want to make a profit? You should also consider how
your organization’s ticket cost compares to competing arts and non-arts options.
Price must be considered even if your event is free because the cost of attending an arts event is more
than just the ticket price. You must take into account other actual and perceived costs. How much does it
cost to participate (in terms of time and money) from the minute the customers leave home to the minute
they return home?
Tips to Alleviate or Reduce
* While most actual costs are outside of your control, you
can help lessen these costs by providing subway
directions, cross streets, or a map to parking garages.
Intimidated by attending an * Provide information about the art or production before
“artsy” event (afraid will not the event, i.e. via a Web site, e-mail, invitation.
fit in or understand the event) * Include language on your marketing materials such as,
“appropriate for all ages/levels,” when applicable.
Unsure of area’s safety or * Clearly mark the location by posters or lights.
* Provide maps.
The key to alleviating actual and perceived costs is brainstorming what an audience member needs to go
through to attend your event and then making it as easy as possible for them to get there. The smallest
detail in an invitation, such as providing subway directions or cross streets, immediately eliminates a
perceived cost and makes it easier for someone to attend.
Organizations need to consider who their audience will be for an arts event. Organizations should ask
themselves, who is our current audience? and, who is our potential audience?
Who is our current audience?
Current audience members and supporters should always be informed of and invited to events.
Maintaining contact with attendees is an easy way to begin building a relationship and loyalty with an
audience. Keep a mailing list at all events to collect the contact information of the audience.
Any donors or fiscal supporters should always be informed of and invited to events. This is a group who
has already shown an interest in your work and will be eager to learn and see your artistic progress.
Who is our potential audience?
When an event takes place in a community-oriented venue, inform members of that community about
your event. Community members tend to be more comfortable and familiar with attending events in their
own neighborhood and may therefore be more likely to attend.
ü Ask the venue for permission to use their mailing list.
ü Place marketing materials (i.e. poster, flyer) in the venue or at community centers and businesses in
the immediate neighborhood. (It is always important to ask for permission before posting material
for legal reasons as well as to build community relations.)
ü You can request media kits from local media (newspapers, radio, etc.) that often include
demographics information of the community. This will give you insight as to what type of audience
members are in the community.
Discipline- or Demographic-Specific Groups
Focus on how your organization can connect its artistic product with an audience most likely to
appreciate and value the work. Identify a group/groups of people that would particularly enjoy or
appreciate your organization's artistic product. For example, a group may be looking for a specific artistic
experience, seeking out "innovative presentations of cultural dramas" or "modern dance from around the
world." Does your organization's artistic product fit these needs? Or, a group may be looking for a social
or educational experience, seeking opportunities to get together with friends, time for family
entertainment, or a method of relaxation. Would your organization's artistic product fulfill these needs?
Promotion (advertising, PR, direct mail, special events, telemarketing, community outreach) should be
the final topic considered after a thorough review of product, price, place, and people. All these elements
need to be outlined first so that promotion can deliver its needed punch. The next section will deal solely
A. DEVELOPING PROMOTIONAL MATERIALS
1. Organization-Centered Material
Brief History: A short statement about the history of your organization can be useful for press releases,
public service announcements, emails, flyers, newspaper and magazine interviews, and other press
coverage. It is usually written as a narrative, possibly including details about the organization’s artistic
vision, previous exhibits/performances, or any awards received.
Mission Statement: A mission statement describes what the organization does, whom it serves, and
what it intends to accomplish. It should be easily understood and succinct.
Board of Trustees: A list of your Board of Trustees should be available. This list should include the
trustee’s name, professional affiliation, and any title they hold on your board.
Images: It is helpful to have photographs of performance stills, artwork, or artists that can be reproduced
in publications or for publicity reasons.
2. Event-Centered Material
Event-Centered materials are what you use to promote your event. Prices range from expensive
(advertisements) to relatively no cost (e-mail). Examples of promotional materials include: press release,
flier, postcard, poster, bookmark, magnet, advertisement. Be creative when thinking of promotional
materials you can create. See Appendix 1 for examples. This will be further explored in “Alerting
Audiences” on page 9.
B. ALERTING THE MEDIA
There is no set formula to ensuring press coverage. Do not be discouraged if the press does not cover
your event. Current events and other competing interests affect media availability on any given day. If
you do not get covered in one event, try, try again. The more times a press release with your
organization’s name on it comes across an editor’s desk, the more they will learn about you and possibly
cover you in the future. Focus on the smaller, community newspapers, rather than jumping straight to
The New York Times. Coverage in these smaller papers can be just as effective in your marketing efforts
and is a bit easier to obtain. Try to establish relationships with the media outlets in your community.
1. Press Kit
A press kit should be organized in a folder and should include all of your promotional material including:
Organization Info (in left side of folder)
Event Info (in right side of folder)
• organization’s brief history
• press release for current event
• board of trustee list
• program for event
• misc. marketing materials
• bios for artists, if applicable
• any relevant or recent press coverage
• images from event
In general, press kits are made available for attending press at the opening night of an event or at a
press preview. Press kits do not need to be sent to press ahead of time unless there is a particular media
contact that you are expecting or hoping will review your event.
3. Public Service Announcement (PSA)
A Public Service Announcement (PSA) is a brief announcement aired free of charge on the radio or
television for nonprofit organizations. Most radio stations dedicate a certain percentage of their airtime
to PSAs. While every station varies in their specific PSA requirements, the following are general
• PSAs are received (either in writing or a tape) at least two weeks before the event. Some stations
however require longer lead times, as much as six weeks. Check deadlines.
• Check with the public affairs director of each station as to their rules and regulations regarding
PSAs. Some stations air PSAs randomly throughout the day; others have community calendars
where they air announcements collectively.
• PSAs of differing length should be offered. Indicate the reading time at the top of the page: ten
seconds (25 words), twenty seconds (50 words), and thirty seconds (75 words). Never send anything
without reading it out loud and timing it several times first. Names that are difficult to pronounce
should be spelled out phonetically.
• It is against the law to mention raffles, door prizes, and lotteries.
4. Press Release
A press release is used to alert the media to your event with the hope that they will publish a listing or
cover the event. It should include a brief, factual description of the event and the artists and
organizations involved. A cover letter may also be used if you want to provide more descriptive language
or “pitch” the event, but it is not required. Press releases should be sent out a month before your event
with follow-up calls or invitations going out two weeks before the event. Magazines, television and radio
stations may require longer lead times, so it is best to check exact deadlines.
What goes in the press release?
What: What services or activities have you organized or plan on organizing?
When: When will your event take place? (include date and time)
Where: Where is the event being held? (provide directions if necessary)
Who: Who will the event feature?
Why: Why is this event being held at this time in this community?
Contact: Who can be contacted for more information?
Other: What, if any, requirements or restrictions are there for attending your event?
When possible, you should try to include some “hook”—an idea about what makes your event unique or
topical. It is sometimes helpful to approach media with the attitude that you are doing them a favor by
letting them know about this exciting new happening or trend.
Tips to Structuring a Standard Press Release:
• Press releases should be typed, double-spaced and spell-checked. Press releases need to be
presented in a professional manner that is easily read. Spelling errors are a quick ticket to the
• The name and address of the organization sending the press release should be prominently
displayed at the outset. This is easily accomplished by using pre-printed letterhead, either
designed professionally or on your computer.
• Always include the name and phone number of a specific person to be contacted for more
information at the top of the first page. The contact person should be prepared to handle calls
from the media. He or she should have a thorough understanding of the release and be
authorized to make further statements or release more information.
• Include a release date and time at the start of the body text on the first page. Examples: FOR
RELEASE February 28, 2002; FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE; RELEASE AT WILL (if not time-sensitive).
• At the top of your press release put a suggested headline in all caps, bolded, and underlined.
This should be a catchy headline that summarizes the press release and entices an editor to
continue reading. For example, "Meta-Forms, Exhibition of New Work in Computer Arts,
Showcases Merger of Technology and Art" is more alluring than "NYFA to Exhibit Computer Arts
Fellows." You can also use a sub-header for more details. This should be bolded and underlined
but not in caps.
• Always make your first paragraph the most important item in the article. The first paragraph
should be the “sales hook” for the editor or reader and should contain the essential 5 Ws (Who,
What, Where, When, Why).
• Follow up with the facts of your story in descending order of importance.
• A quote by the artist or organization representative adds more substance to your release. It also
makes it more appealing for the media to publish, as it is an enticing item for their publication
that they do not have to investigate.
• End your press release with the boilerplate (general description) of your organization. The
boilerplate can be your mission statement or a brief description of your artistic vision or goals.
• If the main text goes on to another page, write MORE or OVER at the bottom of the page to
indicate that this is not the end.
• At the end of the main text of the article, signal that it is the end by putting three pound signs,
"# # #," or the word "END."
• After the end signals, put any special additional information that does not fit elsewhere. For
example, you can list the schedule for a special photo opportunity and/or interview availability.
When writing a press release, the more it looks like a read-to-publish article, the better. Some publications will even
end up publishing the press release verbatim. See Appendix 2 for a sample press release.
4. Developing a Press List
A press list is a list of media outlets such as area newspapers, magazines, radio and television stations,
and Internet sites. Think about your audience and about expanding your audience – what media sources
might reach them? When collecting contact information for your list, identify particular writers, editors,
or programmers who review or discuss the arts or local events. Releases addressed 'To the Editor' may
never find their target, as there are many kinds of editors in a media outlet. When in doubt, send press
releases to the Arts/Entertainment Editor.
How to develop a press list:
• Buy, borrow, or check out a media directory, which lists all the major publications, news editors, arts
writers, and reviewers. Some media directories, such as those published by Bacon’s Information
Inc., are carried by public libraries. Check with you local library for availability.
• Read publications, newspapers, and magazines, and make note of writers that cover areas similar to
• Look at the TV & Radio program listings, making a note of those that might be useful; watch and
• Call stations or look at their Web site for a listing of regular programs and personnel.
• Request media kits produced for potential advertisers from local media (newspapers, radio, etc.) that
often include demographics information of the community, their target markets, circulation, and
• Utilize the Internet! The Internet provides a wealth of information on media outlets. Most media
outlets have their own Web sites on which you can determine specific editor contact information.
www.newsdirectory.com is a free online directory of media outlets including newspapers,
magazines, and television stations. For listings of radio stations, check out www.radio-locator.com .
If you do not have Internet access, most public libraries provide free access.
• Don’t forget to include: community organization newsletters, ethnic papers, free street press,
university newspapers. These outlets are more likely to print your press release.You can find more
alternative press ideas at www.altpress.org.
5. Event Fact Sheet
An event fact sheet differs from a press release in that it includes only the bare bones of the event,
answering the important questions of who, what, where, when, and why. It can be sent either in lieu of or
in conjunction with a press release. Event fact sheets should be sent to the Calendar/Events Editor. Every
publication’s deadline differs slightly, but most are around two weeks before publication. Monthly
magazines will have earlier deadlines. Check with the publication for an exact deadline. See Appendix 3
for a sample event fact sheet.
C. ALERTING AUDIENCES
1. Direct Marketing
Direct Marketing allows you to personalize and customize a message to different persons and groups at
a specific time. The most popular forms are direct mail and e-mail marketing. Direct marketing is perhaps
the most effective form of promotion because you have total control over what message you send, who
receives the message, and when it is received. You can create general direct marketing pieces that go to
a mass audience, such as an invitation, or specific marketing pieces that go to a target audience, such as
Direct mail allows you to communicate with current and potential audiences. It can be used to offer a
subscription or membership, to communicate some interesting news (such as an award or rave review) or
to alert audience members of an upcoming performance.
Expenses runs the gamut. While a large direct mail campaign can be a costly investment, there are less-
expensive alternatives. Postcards are fairly low cost and can look professional whether designed on your
computer or by a designer. If you cannot afford postage, postcards can always be handed out at events.
A virtually free form of direct mail is through e-mail marketing.