The importance of strategy in arts PR

4 Mar 2019
Eleanor Porter

The beauty of many arts organisations is that more often than not, they are on a certain level, quite easy to ‘PR’. The reason for this is that most arts organisations either host or are involved with a year-round exhibition programme, providing obvious talking points to engage media and to promote on social media. It’s a dynamism that many industries can but dream of, instead spending vast amounts of marketing budgets on the conception of creative campaigns to provide touchpoints with their target audiences throughout the year.

There is however, a drawback. Arts organisations can easily be overshadowed by their exhibits, and those that solely focus their communication efforts on a year-round exhibition programme miss out, through lack of forward planning or inadequate resources, on the opportunity to develop and implement long term brand strategy that grows organisations and helps them achieve their missions. While PR surrounding an exhibition is an essential aspect of an arts communications campaign, it remains just one component of a thoughtful, integrated strategy, which offers a number of benefits:

  1. Reaching the right audiences and maintaining positive media relations

Rather than concentrating on achieving as much coverage as possible, a proper strategy can ensure the right media targets are approached for the right activation, making sure we reach the right target audiences, and crucially, that we avoid saturating journalists by tirelessly pitching to them again and again,  but instead making certain that the stories we send them are of true interest.

  1. Achieve business and sponsorship objectives

A thoughtful strategy will take into account an organisation’s long term business, mission and/or sponsorship objectives. By ensuring that these are always at the core of any public relations strategy, we can ensure that any budget accorded to marketing and communications has a measurable and beneficial return on investment (ROI).

  1. Drive footfall

Driving footfall is crucial for many exhibition programmes, and strategically placed media coverage will help drive visitors across both traditional media, as well as social media campaigns that drive audience engagement and build ‘buzz’ within a local community.

  1. Build thought leadership

In a competitive industry, building thought leadership can help to reinforce an organisation’s unique selling points by providing a deeper dimension to a public relations strategy. Building thought leadership through first person content, speaking opportunities and interviews helps target audiences to foster a true, 360° understanding of your brand or platform.

  1. Be prepared

In today’s world the line between art and politics has never been finer and the media is often quick to exploit this for a bump in the news cycle.  As a result, issues management needs to be considered as essential part of any comprehensive arts strategy.

  1. Help to allocate resources effectively

A thoughtful strategy should work within an organisation’s budget to ensure an optimized allocation of resources. By considering the amount of agency or inhouse support required given the objectives of a campaign, a strategy is able to focus in and discern between essential and non-essential public relations tactics.

In order for a strategy to facilitate an arts organisation achieving one or all of these outcomes, any strategy needs to be based on the following strong foundations:


No public relations strategy should be implemented unless built on diligent research, both in the forms of surveys and social listening, with these insights being into the overarching strategy at every level.



The best public relations strategies are integrated, combining several different communications tactics to fully engage the target audience in a circle of engagement, meaning their relationship with your brand is reinforced across several platforms, from traditional to new media, reaching them where they live, work and play. In an industry that competes with other forms of entertainment for their audience’s valuable time, it is essential that an arts organisation’s messaging cuts through the clutter.

Approach partnerships carefully

So much time can go into securing partnership opportunities, but equal energy should be placed in messaging and establishing the wording of a partnership. Any strategy inclusive of a partnership should take into account measures needed to ensure your organisation maintains its share of voice, and that its key messages are not lost to the other partner.


Make it measureable

Any strategy developed for implementation should be based on ambitious but attainable deliverables. By taking the time to consider realistic, measurable objectives and key performance indicators (KPIs), strategies can be measured in both the long and short term for their success.


An arts marketing representative often juggles the interests of artists, curators, directors, partners and media at the same time, and this can make it difficult to take a step back and invest adequate time in ensuring public relations outreach fully aligns with long term brand objectives. However, by developing creative and comprehensive strategy, arts organisations can achieve a multitude of objectives with the same resources, and marcomms representatives can ensure we are justifying our budgets to those above by fully showcasing the ROI offered by good, integrated public relations.



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