By: Julia McCann, PR Consultant, WordPop PR

Up ahead: Get to know six members of San Diego’s media community and discover five trends San Diego journalists have identified at the intersection of arts and media. Many of these trends are universal and can be useful when working with media in any industry or seeking to promote any cause.

This week I attended the San Diego Regional Arts & Culture Coalition’s Media Arts Panel event at the Mingei International Museum at Balboa Park. If you haven’t been to the Mingei Museum, you’re missing out! Right now, their “Made in America” exhibit features American-made crafts from each of the 50 states.

Wednesday’s panel included Kinsee Morlan of VOSD, Michael Rocha of the UT, Nina Garin of the 6-months young KPBS/ARTS, Chris Jennewein of Times of SD, Seth Combs of City Beat and Ken Herman of San Diego Story.

Here’s what I gathered from the lively panel discussion.

Five trends in journalism and the arts:

1. Engagement – This isn’t referring to social media engagement. Rather, reporters see arts organizations taking their programming to the audience, especially underserved areas and engaging with them that way.

2. Continuing the conversation – There was a time when interest in arts criticism waned, but it’s back on the upswing and people enjoy reading the opinions of others – especially because online publishing allows readers to speak directly back to the author through the comments. It also allows members of the media to respond to criticism of their criticism.

3. Advocacy journalism is accepted and welcome – Morlan at Voice of San Diego reminds us that people are inherently biased and any story will have some degree of slant. She welcomes arts organizations advocating for themselves and encourages them to show the public why their organization is relevant.

4. Collaboration – Team up with other organizations to make your voice louder, think big, hold your event on site at one of your partner organizations and invite media. Consider piggybacking on other San Diego trends that are receiving local and national recognition (we’re looking at you, microbrew industry).

5. Support – Arts media staff is shrinking! For example, the UT’s arts staff decreased from 80 people in the 1990s to a team of 4 today. And this trend isn’t exclusive to arts media. This means organizations and PR pros need to make the journalist’s job easy by being complete. Here are a few specifics:

–       Reach out. Members of the media are so busy (think 100-200 emails/day) so they don’t know about your event unless you let them know.

–       Don’t assume a Facebook invite will suffice – it can supplement your outreach, making sure a writer has a convenient reminder on the day of your event, but send them an email too, inviting them out to the event and explaining what they’ll be seeing.

–       Include all of the relevant information upfront. 

–       Provide a horizontal headshot that gives the viewer context and insight into the subject (especially for online publications).

–       Send high resolution photos (to hybrid print & online publications). Images can be sized down for online publications but they can’t be increased for print. (300 dpi is the high resolution standard)

–       Give really early notice of your upcoming event and send reminders. For example, The UT works 10 days out so let them know about your event three weeks out.

–       If your event lends itself to a photo slideshow, provide all of the relevant photos and captions.

–       Don’t be afraid to revise. Once an article goes live online, contact the reporter if there’s a new, juicy quote, a better photo, or some misinformation that should be corrected. That article could live online for years to come, so it doesn’t hurt to send content that could improve the article.

–       Be creative and help the journalists find new ways to cover you.

Get to know San Diego’s arts media

 Below are some tips for working specifically with each of the panelists:

  1. Morlan explained that VOSD break out news items into three types: message (brief and to-the-point), story (more traditional format), and guide (breaks down a larger story). Know which type you’re submitting.
  2. Jennewein pointed out that The Times’ demographic is young (millennial and gen. x), so he’s looking for things that are innovative and new. The Times runs more previews than reviews. Jennewein recommends sending short articles of a couple hundred words. He’s also looking for more op eds – an opportunity to explain in your own voice why your organization continues to be relevant.
  3. Combs is energized by the thought of uncovering what’s underground, “what kids are doing.”
  4. Herman is excited about the ability to continue carrying on the conversation after the article is published, by engaging in dialogue in the comments section of an online article.
  5. Garin at KPBS is passionate about the intersection of kids and the arts. She pulls from a user-generated calendar so she recommends you take the time to beautifully fill out submission fields, properly link items and send her an email with photos.
  6. Currently, Rocha at the UT is curious about trends in attendance – what are the attendance numbers and what are organizations doing to keep those numbers high – he revealed that 9 of 10 large arts orgs in San Diego saw attendance go down this past year.

If you are interested in San Diego’s arts scene…some things to know:

  1. Barrio Logan has been ID’d as the next arts hotbed. If you haven’t checked out the experimental arts and culture center Bread and Salt, it comes highly recommended.
  2. The San Diego region is pulling together to have a unified arts movement – looping in North County and Carlsbad.
  3. VOSD hosts “Meeting of the Minds” quarterly. It’s a 6-minute “Ted Talk” style audio and visual presentation. Next up is a music theme.
  4. If you like what our city’s arts reporters are doing, consider supporting their publications by sharing their stories, buying an ad or pledging a dollar a month to the nonprofits. If you’re in PR, consider supporting an arts passion project with discounted or pro bono PR efforts.
  5. Penny for the arts. Years ago, a plan was approved to have one penny from the Transient Fund (vacationers) go to arts and culture in San Diego. Over the years, that “penny” has decreased to a percentage of a penny but there’s a movement to bring that amount back to a penny. More on Penny for the Arts, here.
  6. To keep up to date on the state of the arts in California, you can join the California Arts Counsel’s ArtBeat newsletter.

For more information about the San Diego Regional Arts & Culture Coalition, visit them online!

Photo source: San Diego Regional Arts & Culture Coalition Facebook Page