Screenshot from Columbus Underground of a Theater Review

ARTS MARKETING AND LOCAL JOURNALISM CAN THRIVE WHEN THEY WORK TOGETHER

The Columbus Arts Marketing Association, a membership-based professional networking and development association that cooperatively markets and promotes the arts and culture in greater Columbus, recently hosted journalists from the central Ohio media market. The panel discussion focused on the area’s creative ecosystem, how strategic partnerships can build awareness for arts organizations, the challenges of local arts reporting, and the need for effective engagement tactics to bring people to arts institutions and events.

CreativeOhio attended the discussion, which emphasized that arts marketing and local journalism can better thrive in a community with partnership.

Our Key Takeaways:

Across the country, cities are losing reliable local media sources. This impacts arts coverage.

In the past year, the Columbus Dispatch features desk, like most sections of the paper, has seen steady staff cuts and reductions in coverage; local nonprofit radio station, WWCD, went from on-air to an online-only format; and ongoing cuts from large corporate media companies have put remaining arts coverage at risk.

Arts coverage does not garner as many clicks as breaking news and hot-button issues.

The media outlets that choose to cover local arts may do so out of a desire to build up the arts community, not necessarily to gain clicks that lead to views and advertising revenue. Free-to-the-viewer journalism (such as television, nonprofit independent news outlets, and subscriber-based emails) relies on advertising revenue to continue to operate.

Screenshot from Matter News of arts stories for Columbus readers

 

For independent media sources, advertising and subscription revenue goes hand-in-hand with the ability to report more on local arts and culture in a community.

Many of the panelists shared that with more subscriber and advertising-based revenue, they would be able to hire more freelancers to cover arts and entertainment in Columbus.

Most of the panelists shared that while their numbers pale in comparison to Meta and other large digital advertising companies, their readers are niche, dedicated to their content, and are proven to take action when presented with arts and culture opportunities through their editorial content and advertising platforms.

Media outlets prefer personal relationships over agency-produced mass press releases, and welcome embargoed news.

Panelists shared they would welcome a coffee with marketers from arts organizations. This allows for a deeper understanding of the needs of both the media outlet (including the outlet’s editorial calendar and what type of story ideas they’re seeking) and for the arts organization. One media outlet shared that with embargoed news releases, they can provide better and more thorough coverage of an arts-related story, while still working with the organization’s timeline.

Action items for CreativeOhio marketers:

  • Purchase advertising from local media outlets to ensure continued local arts coverage in your community.
  • Sharing peer institutions’ arts-related news coverage in your community will increase overall readership and make the content more valuable to advertisers with larger budgets.
  • Get to know your local arts journalists, and pitch story ideas to them directly, when possible.

 

Screenshots from Columbus Underground and Matter News.

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