Bayou City Art Festival – Memorial Park and Susan Farb Public Relations

The fine, juried Bayou City Art Festival Memorial Park consistently ranks among the top art festivals in the U.S. in such well-regarded national art magazines as AmericanStyle (#3 art festival in U.S., 2009) and Sunshine Artist (‘Top 50 Art Festivals & Fairs,’ 2008). The objective of the media relations campaign was to heighten the awareness of this top national ranking and build upon it to attract new audiences within the Houston metropolitan area and regional markets.  The goal was to focus publicity on the high quality of art exhibited at the Festival in order to attract new serious art buyers and collectors and increase ticket sales. The plan incorporated:

  • Traditional print and electronic media
  • 2.0 social media
  • Local awards recognition as an additional publicity vehicle

Tantamount to the campaign’s success was communicating the message that Bayou City Art Festival Memorial Park was an award-winning, fine juried art festival that showcased art gallery-level quality works. The editorial tag, “Houston’s one-of-a-kind outdoor gallery,” expressed the exceptional quality of art shown:  fine gallery-quality artists and artwork in a family-friendly park setting

To help build top-of-mind awareness of the high quality of Bayou City Art Festival Memorial Park, the Festival, with the support of Susan Farb Public Relations, pursued and achieved three major media-sponsored “Best” awards:  “Best Festival in Houston” from Houston Press “Best of Houston,” “#3 Festival in the U.S.” as voted by AmericanStyle Magazine readers and KPRC-TV “Best of Houston” contest’s “Best Gallery in Houston.”  These quantifiable awards were added to publicity, as well as the website, e-blasts and advertising.   In addition, Susan Farb Public Relations’ Susan Farb Morris nominated Kim Stoilis, executive director of the Art Colony Association, presenter of the Festival, for the Houston Business Journal’s “40 Under 40 Award” for the city’s top young entrepreneurs, an award which she won with great pride.

The agency’s media relations effort, through news releases, real and virtual media kit deliveries and online postings, garnered local, regional, and national editorial coverage in print, on TV and radio, as well as international visibility through news release postings directly onto the Internet and the integration of blogs, vlogs, Facebook and Twitter to create additional buzz.

Media Outreach – Bayou City Art Festival Memorial Park pursued editorial coverage pre-, during and post-event.  The media outreach began with “Call for Entries” targeting professional artists to apply to the Festival and high school-age artists to its Emerging Artists Program, followed by news release distribution for calendar listings, featured artist announcement, travel and artist-oriented feature stories and entertainment stage listings.  The goal was to secure local, regional and national stories and interviews in newspapers, magazines, television, radio and online.  This year the Bayou City Art Festival Memorial Park fully embraced 2.0 social media with targeted postings and updates on Facebook and Twitter, plus posting keyword-optimized news releases directly to the web to achieve Page One results on Google searches.  The three news releases posted to the Internet garnered 998,273 total impressions, 3,593 total views and 473 total e-mailed.  The overall advertising value of the entire media relations/outreach effort (print, electronic and online) totaled $364.577, with the publicity – third-party editorial – valued at more than $1.1 million.  Circulation/Impressions: 32,147,414.

Newspaper Highlights (includes four newspaper cover stories*)

Magazine Highlights

Television Highlights (includes three “live” shots on Opening Day, Fri., March 27)

  • Vigorously promoted on KTRK-TV (On-Air mentions and spot promos)
  • KPRC-TV Feature Interview – March 22, 2009
  • KTRK-TV 30-Minute Program – March 22, 2009
  • FOX 26 – Weathercast Shout-Out/ Weather Blog – March 22, 2009
  • KTRK-TV “Hometown Live” Feature Interview – March 24, 2009
  • FOX 26 – (6) “Live” News Segments from the Festival – March 27, 2009
  • FOX 26 “Live” Traffic Report from Bayou City Art Festival – March 29, 2008
  • KHOU-TV “Great Day Houston” – Two Segments – March 27, 2009
  • KPRC-TV – Feature Interview “Green” Artists  – March 27, 2009
  • KPRC-TV – Feature Interview “Emerging Artists” – March 28, 2009
  • KIAH39 TV – Weekend Coverage – March 28 and 29, 2009

Radio Highlights

  • KHMX MIX 96.5 “First Look Friday” On-Air Promotion and On-Air Personality Personal Appearance
  • KPFT Radio Promotional Spots for 90.1 KPFT Bike Depot
  • BizRadio public affairs interview with Art Colony Assn. Board Member M. Paulette

Online Highlights

Overall Effectiveness

The Bayou City Art Festival Memorial Park 2009 media relations campaign was the most successful in its history in terms of the depth of coverage and reach, with 312 non-paid editorial placements. Highlights included a national wire story (travel), four local cover stories, 44 television placements and Page 1 optimization on Google searches on the Internet. There was extensive local coverage in monthly magazines, daily and weekly newspapers as well as select regional and national coverage.  Full-page feature stories graced arts-oriented and general interest publications. There was international print publicity thanks to a travel piece in the Miami Herald-International Edition and the optimization of news releases posted directly onto the web. The media relations program methodically incorporated online calendar/entertainment listings, website and e-zine listings, plus a wide variety of blogs, invitations and event updates placed via Facebook and Twitter.

Types of Mediums Used for Promotion

  • National art trade publications (i.e. Southwest Art magazine and
  • Wire service (Dallas Morning News Wire – National Travel Story)
  • Greater Houston Convention & Visitors Bureau (info in their national promotional materials; art display in the downtown Houston Visitor Center; e-blast to 120,000 subscribers; website tout; and inclusion in “Spring ’09 Houston Highlights” news release to local, regional and national travel traditional and online media)
  • Local magazines (illustrated calendar listings and feature articles)
  • Newspaper (daily and weekly, including news, feature, entertainment and photo)
  • “Best of Houston” Award Recognition (Houston Press “Best Festival in Houston” and KPRC-TV “Best Gallery in Houston”)
  • E-blasts (includes Art Colony e-blast series, external e-blasts by Houston Airport System e-newsletter, GHCVB and a local 50,000-marketing e-blast)
  • Blogs (from art blogs to children’s activities blogs, MomBlogs, empty nester blogs, beer blogs, bike blogs, dog blogs and the like)
  • Online event calendar listings
  • TV Feature and News Reporters, News Desks and Meteorologists
  • Radio Public Service and News

Measurable Results (Indicating number of publications/cities states targeted) – The media relations campaign targeted approximately 277 outlets:  print, TV and radio in greater Houston; Texas (Dallas/San Antonio/Austin and regional publications; national art trade publications; and the Internet.  The program worked to maximize several editors to get the most “bang for the buck,” such as three stories in an issue of Greater Houston Weekly inserted in 30 Houston Community Newspapers in the Houston metro area (90 placements) and posting optimized news releases picked up by 39 news sites.

Houston Daily and Weekly Newspapers – 43 placements. This figure does not reflect that by virtue of pitching three different story angles to one paper, “Greater Houston Weekly,” three stories ran in a pull-out section distributed to 30 different HCN Newspapers for 90 placements.

Houston Monthlies – 24 placements, including four customized articles written and submitted by Susan Farb Public Relations.

Regional Media – March 1 Dallas Morning News travel story put out on DMN wire service and picked up by San Antonio Express-News, Miami Herald, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Free-Lance Star in Fredericksburg, VA, The Columbian in Vancouver, WA and Santa Fe New Mexican – another example of getting an exceptional return on one media source.

TV (Houston) -  44 TV placements, including feature interviews, news coverage and continuous weather mentions on five English-speaking stations.  One “live” weathercast from the Festival (CBS affiliate) was set, but cancelled due to rain. Three other “live” TV shots were done on Opening Day.

Online Media – Websites, e-zines/e-newsletters, online calendars and bloggers targeted. Above and beyond those, there were at least 39 additional .com sites that ran the news releases posted directly to the Internet and optimized for a Google search.

Challenges – With newspaper circulation and readership declining, the Festival made changes this year to complement traditional media with the optimization of news releases and posting them to the Internet for Page 1 Google search results. One release landed on 39 news sites, including UPI.comNews, WCBSTV.Com, San Francisco, and tourism, arts and entertainment sites.  The online releases made 998,273 impressions, secured 3,593 views and at least 473 were e-mailed to another party. 2.0 Social Media, i.e. Facebook and Twitter were new to the media relations mix, as were several hip, well-followed Houston blogs, e-zines and e-listings that brought out some serious art shoppers.

The use of the Internet and social media enhanced the on-line presence of the Festival in the eyes of the artists and prospective artists and Festivalgoers.  The ability to optimize the releases to the extent of generating close to one million impressions compares to publishing one’s own newspaper online.

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