Thursday, June 12, 2008

Star for a day! The joy of free publicity...

Every artisan must have their day, and I guess today is mine! Check out some of my necklaces that appear in today's Hamilton Spectator - "The Shopper" feature:

It has been a while since my work has received any publicity - last time I appeared in the paper was last fall, as part of an article on the changing face of the Canadian family. Andrew and I were the "shacked up" couple. But now we're engaged to be legally wed, so everything is good, and we will no longer be going to that "extremely warm place" waaaaay down south.

As a working artisan, every little bit of publicity helps the cause. Before moving to Hamilton and becoming a member of Textures, I owned my own gift shop called "FRED- a store...", and I found out what a struggle it can be to get the word out about one's creative activities. I had been unemployed for a year before opening my store, so there really wasn't any money for promotion and I had to get really, really creative. It became my mission to get my name and/or picture in the Sarnia Observer as often as I could, and I did pretty well.

The trick was to take part in some sort of charity or benefit event, so I teamed up with a friend who owned a nearby cafe, and another acquaintance who ran a clothing store, and we organized a charity fashion show featuring one friends' clothing from her store, accessories that I created, and located at the other friends' cafe. We got free event postings in all the local daily and weekly papers, as well as a pre-event photo, and when it was all over, we got another photo in the paper as we handed over the cheque to our chosen recipient organization!

Another thing I did to get my name and location out was to call in to the local radio station's all-request hour to request a song. When the DJ would answer the phone, I would say something like, "Hi, it's Sandy calling from FRED- a store... on Ontario Street, and I'd like to request I Think I Love You by the Partridge Family."

I met people around town later on, and when conversation got around to the "what do you do for a living" question, and I said I owned the gift shop, FRED- a store..., I had more than one person exclaim, "Oh! I've heard you on the radio!" So never underestimate what people will hear and retain. Remember to use your powers for good, not evil.

Another idea is to celebrate your "Grand Opening" waaaay long after your actual business opening. Small town newspapers will usually run a story or a photo when you are opening a new business in town. But they will also come out to photograph a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a "Grand Opening" a year later! Who knew?

But then again, the Sarnia Observer used to run a local news column back in the late '70s that featured such colourful items as "John and Jane Smith recently had a visit from their great aunt Ethel from Kalamazoo. They served tea and crumpets." So maybe my little gift shop opening seemed like the big time. Or, they would just print anything...

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