How To Get Published
Getting published is probably the most overlooked area of self-promotion, yet for the low (or no) cost, it has very high rewards. The goal of the publicity is not to sell your photography services. Your objective is to submit, be accepted, and get published. Once that is accomplished, you get the immediate credential and you can use reprints of this publicity for promotion materials.
Getting published means three steps: planning regular award entries, book submissions, and submitting press releases of "newsworthy" situations. The disadvantage of publicity is you can't buy the space or guarantee the publication of your work. The advantage is the credibility you receive because you can't buy it. You have to go through the submission and acceptance process. This is also called "third party proof" of your worth.
Step One. Research all the publications and programs that produce annual "creative" awards. Check in The Workbook Directory (Scott & Daughter, Los Angeles, California) for their listing of award contests. You'll find the basic information on who to contact, eligibility, entry deadline, and fees. For newer photographers, the "Self-Promotion" category is probably your best bet.
You can get immediate exposure upon entering when your potential clients are the jurors. You will know the entry deadline and when the winners will be announced. When you win, you get exposure from publication. Then, you get to write your own press release, further expanding on the publicity equity earned from the entry fee.
Step Two. Start by researching the "how to" book publishers in your field of interest. For example, authors of books on photography self-promotion are always looking for examples to feature in their case studies and promotion success stories. When appropriate, contact the authors from the publisher's web site. Never (I mean never) send unsolicited submissions. You need to get the submission guidelines, follow them and then find out the appropriate time frame for your follow up. Like winning an award or contest, a book publication is newsworthy enough for you to generate a press release announcing your good news.
Step Three. Research the publications you will be submitting press releases to and build a mailing list. Unlike advertising, where you buy space, you will submit your press releases to as many places as possible. Research the magazines, newspapers, and newsletters read by your clients, other photographers, and especially your local community media. Don't forget that your local cable television stations are always looking for a good story.
Writing A Press Release. Plan on having something newsworthy to submit at least four to six times a year. The media needs to get to know you and the more you submit the more likely they are to publish it. Remember, the item must be interesting to the reader. Unlike an awards or book submission where you know you will be published, the protocol of submitting press releases dictates you do not call and ask when your press release will be printed. It is the type of promotion you cannot control. If you could, you'd be buying ad space instead.
Here is a list of what to look
for in your daily business activities:
Use the traditional format press release to submit your news. Submission guidelines that you receive from the publication will let you know if e-mail press releases are acceptable. If you do send an e-mail release, find out if the publication wants the image as an attached file or included in the body of the e-mail.
Editors receive hundreds of press releases a week, so be sure you conform to the guidelines and submissions format to avoid having your release thrown away. Enclose related photos whenever possible to increase the media interest and your chances of being published. If you print the release on letterhead, use the letterhead paper itself. It looks more professional than a photocopy of the letterhead.
Here are some samples of publicity photos and press releases from the successful efforts of one photography studio. Sutton Studios is owned and operated by David and Lynntia Sutton. David is a Chicago area photographer and has developed a consumer portrait and commercial photography business with his intimate and touching images of pets and their owners. As you can see from his press release and photos, his approach is impressive and attention getting. Resulting articles have appeared in such diverse publications as The Picture Professional, Pet Life Magazine, The Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Tribune, and Chicago Magazine. These press releases have also resulted in national network and local cable television appearances.
Bottom Line: Getting published is like rolling a boulder downhill. Once you start, the publicity takes on its own momentum. Identify what you love to do, locate all the media channels available and start mailing those press releases. Let the fun and the magic of getting published work for you.