PWR and Arts Marketing

Guest Blogger Ellen Fraser, ’14

My name is Ellen Fraser, and I am a junior at Elon. I am a double major in English Professional Writing and Rhetoric and Art History. In the future, I hope to work in either development or marketing for an arts-related non-profit organization in order to combine my passion for cultural education with the skills that I have gathered from taking PWR classes in college.

ellen galleryThis semester I have been working for a small art gallery in Mebane, North Carolina called Fine Art Carolina Gallery. My experience has consisted mostly of social media marketing and some online promotions through other electronic services. I have had to examine who their audience is, who they want their audience to be, and how they want their audience to see them in order to make marketing decisions.

Fine Art Carolina is only a little over a year old. There are four partners who share in the responsibilities of managing the gallery, and each one of them shows their art in the gallery as well. None of the partners know much about what it means to have an online presence. They had a website and a Facebook with virtually no activity on it when I first started.

In order to market their brand, I made them accounts on both Twitter and Pinterest. I also looked at what other art galleries in the area are doing with their online presences, and with that I started a featured “Piece of the Week” that I post to Facebook and Twitter every Wednesday. During this job, I have also started a monthly newsletter that I send out to their e-mail list serve through an e-mail marketing website called Mail Chimp. Using Mail Chimp, I created a template for the newsletter and one for Save the Dates that we send out before every exhibit. I designed the template, and I write the featured story that appears each month. Finally, I have been using WordPress to update their website more frequently.


Tips for Research and Social Media

ellen fish artIndependent research has helped me to arrive at many of my rhetorical decisions for marketing the work in the gallery. One thing that really helped me was to examine what other galleries of similar size in the area were doing to market their brand because this gallery draws a different crowd than typical art galleries that someone would find in New York or Los Angeles. Getting to know my gallery, historic downtown Mebane, and other galleries/art groups in the area has greatly helped me to understand how the gallery partners want other people to view the establishment. The first step in making effective rhetorical decisions is not only to know your audience, but also to know and understand who you are working, in addition to its mission.

In regards to social media marketing, many times a great way to start is to just begin posting more. However, you have to post with a purpose. For an art gallery, pictures of the pieces are typically solid posts that will help you to receive lots of action. I always make sure that I also say who the artist is, and the title of the piece. It connects the audience to the art. For example, if a person didn’t know about the gallery but was a fan of that specific artist, they might stop in. One of the most important aspects of social media is conversation; so if someone messages you on Facebook or tweets at you via Twitter, reply! Finally, fans want to see content that is current. They want to know what is happening right now with your brand, so it is good to update your social media and website content every day.

E-mail marketing is another tool that many galleries use, and there are so many easy-to-use e-mail marketing services in existence nowadays. Mail Chimp specifically allows you to design your own template or choose from a previously existing set of options. There is also the option to create different listservs of people that might receive different e-mail marketing campaigns. All of these services are so simple and cheap!

ellen necklaceThinking up ideas for possible events is another way in which I have had to use my PWR skills in an unexpected way. The artists who I work with are so incredibly talented that I want their names to be publicized, so I have been trying to think up ideas for events such as “wine and design” evenings or workshops that the people on our listserv might be interested in attending.

Marketing art is difficult. You do not want to warp the way the artists want to be viewed by an audience because you don’t want them to feel as if they are selling their souls. However, if you truly believe that the artists have talent, you want to publicize their names as much as possible. Working at Fine Art Carolina has not only taught me how to become more comfortable with different online marketing tools such as social media sites, WordPress, and Mail Chimp, it has also taught me about the importance of how you need to pay just as much attention to your client as you do your audience when marketing a brand.

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