Category 2 - News Releases
“Hanging By a Thread” News Release
Tiffany Esposito
Award of Distinction


    As the umbrella arts organization for Lee County, the Alliance for the Arts strives to keep the public informed abut upcoming arts-related events in the area. Because the Alliance is a non-profit, donor based organization and there has been a decline in the economy it was even more important for one of the objectives to be to increase public relations efforts. We knew we would have to promote the “Hanging By a Thread” fiber art show to increase attendance and to inform the public about who the exhibit would feature, and when it would be on display. Due to the fact that the Alliance has a very slim advertising budget it is necessary to keep the public up-to-date at little to no cost and we determined a news release is an effective way to reach the mass public at minimal expense. For the “Hanging By a Thread” release, we researched publications that feature art galleries and art exhibits to reach the targeted audiences. The targeted audience consisted of art geared media, active publics who were already involved in the art community and aware publics who wish to become involved. Research indicated empty nesters ages 45-65+ and retirees 65+ fit into this category. We researched current and past databases of members and targeted existing and potential members of the Alliance as well. We also researched artist biographies for the background information for the news release.
    Driving foot traffic to the Alliance’s on-site gallery also gives them the chance to view Etcetera, the gift shop. Although the artwork in the gallery may be a little pricey, the gift shop offers guests a chance to purchase art at a more affordable price. Background research from past events indicated it was critical to include all the facts while writing the news release in a creative way. Due to the nature of the release it was necessary to get the readers attention in a colorful way and continue a balance of creativity and factual information throughout the entire release.

    The objectives of the news release were to 1) increase awareness of Alliance events and increase attendance at the new exhibit by about 10% or 15-20 people 2) to drive people into the Alliance gift shop and increase awareness of local, affordable art 3) to generate more than 100,000 impressions in at least four publications.

    A deadline was established for the news release distribution based on publication deadlines and needs. Information was then gathered about the exhibit and the artists being featured. Used in conjunction with other communication materials, such as a postcard, e-newsletter, blog and Web site, the news release was written and sent to targeted media. The communication efforts focused on informing the public about the exhibit and its opening reception. The targeted media consisted of The News-Press, Florida Weekly, The River Weekly News, Ft. Myers Magazine, Happenings Magazine, Gulfshore Life and Gulf Coast Times as determined by research. After the news release was distributed via email, a follow-up phone call was placed to ensure that each media contact received the email. The publications that were targeted each had covered Alliance events in the past and supported the Alliance mission as well as focused on arts and culture in the community. The targeted audience was most likely to receive their information from these outlets as well. Some publications, such as Florida Weekly, The River Weekly and Gulf Coast Times, already had an established relationship with the Alliance and therefore were targeted outlets.
    The news release was the primary way in which the information about the exhibit was communicated to key groups. Supplement materials, as mentioned above, were also used to support the news release and to increase effectiveness.

    1.) As a result of publicity generated for the exhibit, the Alliance maintained attendance numbers for the opening reception. There are usually anywhere from 150-300 people at the opening reception for new exhibits, this exhibit brought in nearly 250 guests and the artist sold two original artworks that evening. The two sales combined generated $4,500. The Alliance directly received $1,800 of the two sales as a commission. 2) Based on increased foot traffic, awareness about the gift shop improved. Several new attendees also visited the exhibit and left positive comments in the guest book. 3.) The news release for “Hanging By a Thread” received attention from at least six major publications, such as the News-Press, Florida Weekly, The River Weekly News, Gulf Coast Times Magazine, Ft. Myers Magazine, Gulfshore Life and Happenings Magazine. Over 138,000 impressions were generated. The amount of space that the Alliance received in the printed newspapers would equal approximately $4,466.00 in advertising dollars. Additionally, articles posted online provided even more coverage for the upcoming exhibit. Also, from the artist’s perspective the exhibit was a success.

    The allotted budget for media relations for the Alliance is $0. The cost associated with the news release was $0.  It was written by a non-paid intern who volunteered the time to write the news release. The Alliance generated approximately $4,466.00 in advertising dollars.  There was no cost for artist attendance. Cost of the event itself was minimal and included in a separate event budget. The Alliance generated $1,800 with two sales at the opening reception.