Marketing Your Passion 101

by Katie Brennan

Are you an artist having an exhibition in someone’s apartment? Are you in a band and playing a show in a garage? Have you just self published a new book? Send a press release. The media would LOVE to hear about what you’re up to. 

On June 13th I was invited to be a part of the City of Kelowna’s Extend Your Reach: Marketing and Promotions in the Media for Kelowna’s Arts, Cultural Heritage Sector session. I was part of the media panel for my work I was also there picking up all marketing and promotions know-how I could for my work with the Lake Country Art Gallery – a fairly new art gallery in Lake Country (please stop by and visit us).


For those of us who work in the arts in the Okanagan, we’re there because we have a great passion for our craft, be it dance, music, writing, theatre or art. When learning these crafts, many of us don’t get a lot of exposure to the world of marketing and promotions. This session put on by the City of Kelowna was a great crash course that nicely fleshed out many of the missing pieces of the promotion puzzle. 


So for those of you who don’t know, a main stay in the publicity game is the press release. The press release is a short statement, usually no more than 2 – 3 paragraphs or a page in length in which you tell the media the who, the what, the why and the how about your event. Typically you want to send a press release out to the media at least TWO weeks before your event. Why, you may ask? Well to give the media enough time to hear about your event and assign someone to cover the story: prepare research and questions, do an interview, take some video and/or some photos and then compile all of this into a story, whether its for print, internet, tv or radio – all of these media formats were represented at this session.


Some of media panel suggested that organizations really need to work to make their event stand out somehow more, both their press releases and the event themselves – a dinosaur running down the middle of a street was offered as an example of something really noteworthy. However, there was some dissension from the arts, culture and heritage groups on this point – isn’t what we are already doing enough?


Personally I agree. I think the arts, culture and heritage groups of the Okanagan already produce outstanding work and are continuously dreaming up new ways to challenge themselves and deliver new and exciting work to the public. So why aren’t the media paying attention?


Well, because what strengths the arts, culture and heritage groups in the Okanagan have in their own disciplines, they often lack in how they represent themselves in the media. So here are a few of the tips that I sat up and took notice of during this session:



The Media NEED us! Many arts groups feel somewhat intimidated about asking the media to come and cover their event. Don’t! Many of the media groups in Kelowna and likely, in the rest of the valley, actually have community support and outreach written into their mandate. We’re news worthy! We offer an important service to our communities by sharing our passion and enriching people’s lives.


Get to know your local media – develop person relationships! The media want to hear from you and help you in whatever way they can –  this message came up again and again throughout the session. So put a phone call into your local media groups and find out who covers arts and culture and set up an appointment to speak with them. Not sure where to start the conversation? Describe your event to them and ask how you can improve your publicity efforts. They’ll be more than happy to give you some suggestions.


Press Release Content! Get the 5 W’s in there: Who, what, why, when and where. But don’t just leave it there. Add a paragraph or two about the story of your event. Think about what you tell would a person on the street in 2 minutes to get them interested in coming to your event and then write that! When you send out a well fleshed out press release, sometimes they will get published as is – look for stories labelled “submitted”, “contributed”, “by Staff writer”.  We  will certainly publish your press release here at oook! Also, send a VARIETY of materials – some catchy photos, a video or audio. Also, think about your title – state the most exciting part of your event in as few words as possible. Last, but certainly not least, make sure that whoever you put on your press release as your media contact is readily available, as the media may be calling and needing a comment or wanting to schedule an interview right away and they don’t have a lot of time.


Not sure how to create a press release?  Google it. Here’s the a link that I found that was useful.


So, get going! Here’s all the media outlets that participated in the ‘Extend Your Reach’ session. They’re all happy to take your inquires: Astral Radio, Pattison Broadcast Group, CBC Radio One, Kelowna Daily Courier, Castanet, Kelowna Capital News, Kelowna Events, CHBC / Shaw Media and of course, yours truly OOOK! To contact us, please email

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