It’s about the art, not the photographer.

Time and time again, I tell customers to make their online presence client focused rather than self promotional. I’ve lost count how many times I’ve seen this online:

“…is an award winning professional photographer with a masters in fine art who’s passion is…”

This is great for an ‘about’  page on a website, but that’s where this kind of content should stay. Content like this sends the message that the art is all about you, the  photographer, and not about the client. There is a simple way to establish your credibility and market your brand.

Understand your audience.

Know what need your clients want to have fulfilled and tell them how you can satisfy it. Many years ago, a mentor once told me: “People don’t buy products. They buy experiences.” More pointed – they buy the emotional connection behind the experience. He was bang on. Throughout my entire career, from marketing cars and IT services, to donations and memberships, it all comes down to this fundamental principal: Selling the experience will resonate with your audience better than a pitch about product features.

The hard-hitting truth.

When it comes to your photography, people aren’t buying you, the photographer, (or even your photos for that matter), they’re buying the benefits they get from your photos. The emotion evoked and the need satisfaction met. Keep in mind that different market segments will have different expectations, so be sure to promote your photography business accordingly. The photographer behind the work will sell itself.

About the Author
Deanna White is owner and publicist for storylinePR, representing Ottawa’s most talented fine art photographers who are looking to create and perfect their work, while we stay keenly focused on the marketing side of their business.

How to build the right marketing & PR plan.

To succeed, you must start with a solid marketing and PR plan. Executed well, your plan will be your road map as you grow your business. The right marketing plan identifies: 1) who your target customers are; 2) how you will reach them; and 3) how you will retain your customers so they repeatedly bring in new business for you.

We are often asked what we include in the marketing and PR plans we produce for our photography clients, so we thought we would outline the 15 key sections as the fundamental basis of our working relationship with some of the best local talent.

Section 1: Executive Summary

We often complete the Executive Summary last. As the name implies, this section merely summarizes each of the other sections in the plan. It will be helpful in giving yourself a reminder and any stakeholders an overview of your plan.

Section 2: Target Customers

This section describes the customers you are targeting which we develop through a persona exercise. Personas are generalized characters that encompass the various needs, goals, and observed behavior patterns among your current and potential customers. They help you understand your customers better. The ability to more clearly identify your target customers will help both pinpoint your marketing (and get a higher return on investment) and better “speak the language” of prospective customers.

Section 3: Unique Selling Proposition (USP)

Having a strong unique selling proposition (USP) is of critical importance as it distinguishes your work and your business in an already over-crowded industry. The hallmark of several great companies is their USP. For example, FedEx’s USP of “When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight” is well-known and resonates strongly with customers who desire reliability and quick delivery. We’ll identify the USP that sets you apart from your competition.

Section 4: Pricing & Positioning Strategy

Your pricing and positioning strategy must be aligned. For example, if you want your photography business to be known as the premier brand in your genre, pricing your work too low might dissuade customers from purchasing. In this section of your marketing plan, we detail the positioning you desire and how your pricing will support it.

Section 5: Distribution Plan

Your distribution plan details how customers will buy from you. For example, will customers purchase directly from you on your website? Will they buy from other publishing venues, at events or galleries? We’ll brainstorm different ways to reach your customers and document them in this section of your marketing plan.

Section 6: Your Offers

We’ll develop strategic offers to secure more new customers and drive past customers back to you – that will generally cause your customer base to grow more rapidly.

Section 7: Marketing Materials

We’ll take an in depth look at the marketing materials you’ll use to promote your business to current and prospective customers. We’ll identify which ones you’ve already completed and ones that need to be created or re-worked to fit the plan.

Section 8: PR Strategy

The PR section is one of the most important sections of your marketing plan and details how you will reach new customers. In this section of your marketing plan, we’ll consider each of vehicles available to us and decide which ones will most effectively allow you to reach your target customers.

Section 9: Online Marketing Strategy

Like it or not, most customers go online to research their next purchase. As such, having the right online marketing strategy can help you secure new customers and gain competitive advantage.

The four key components we consider for your online marketing strategy:

  1. Keyword Strategy: identify the keywords to optimize your website.
  2. Search Engine Optimization Strategy:  updates you make to your website so it shows up more prominently for your top keywords.
  3. Paid Online Advertising Strategy: the online advertising programs you use to reach target customers.
  4. Social Media Strategy: how you will use social media to attract customers.

Section 10: Conversion Strategy

Conversion strategies refer to the techniques to turn prospective customers into paying customers.  For example, increasing your social proof (e.g., showing testimonials of past clients who liked your work) will nearly always boost conversions and sales.  In this section of your plan, we’ll document which conversion-boosting strategies you will use going forward.

Section 11: Joint Ventures & Partnerships

Joint ventures and partnerships are agreements  with other organizations to help reach new customers or better monetize existing customers. Think about what customers buy before, during and/or after they buy from your company. Many of the companies who sell these products and/or services could be good partners. We’ll document such companies in this section of your marketing plan along with tactics to reach out to try to secure them.

Section 12: Referral Strategy

A strong customer referral program could revolutionize your photography business. For example, if every one of your customers referred one new customer, your customer base would constantly grow. Rarely will you get to experience such growth unless you have a formalized referral strategy. We’ll help you think through the best referral strategy for your business and document it.

Section 13: Strategy for Increasing Transaction Prices

While your primary goal when conversing with prospective customers is often to secure the sale, it is also important to pay attention to the transaction price. The transaction price, or amount customers pay when they buy from you, can dictate your success. For example, if your average customer transaction is $1000 but your competitor’s average customer transaction is $1500, they will generate more revenues, and probably profits, per customer. As a result, they will be able to outspend you on advertising and promotion, continually gaining market share at your expense. In this section of your plan, we’ll strategize ways to increase your transaction pricing.

Section 14: Retention Strategy

Too many organizations spend too much time and energy trying to secure new customers versus investing in existing customers. By using retention strategies you can increase revenues and profits by getting customers to purchase from you more frequently over time. We’ll identify and document ways you can better retain customers here.

Section 15: Financial Projections

The final part of your marketing plan is to create financial projections. In your projections, we’ll include all the information documented in your marketing plan with the related expenses that give you the highest return on investment.

One final word…

Creating a comprehensive marketing & PR plan is real work. Once it’s complete, it will serve you well as an actionable road map of deliverables with expected results in terms of new customers, sales and profits.


About the Author
Deanna White is owner and publicist for storylinePR, exclusive PR firm & marketing agent to Ottawa’s most talented fine art photographers. “Because we know instead of marketing your work, you’d much rather be creating it.”

Connecting the photographer & the audience

I’ve interviewed a few photographers for this post and I quickly came to the conclusion that most photographers a) have never written an artist statement or b) really…. REALLY hate writing them. Why? Because most artists visual thinkers. It’s hard for photographers to put their creative process, philosophy, vision and passion into words .

In this post, we share some tips on developing your artist statement. Specifically, why you should have one, where you will use one and how to write one.

What is an artist’s statement?

The artist’s statement is  an effective marketing tool that connects the photographer with their audience. An artist’s statement is not a resume, a biography, a list of accomplishments and awards or a summary of exhibitions or a catalogue of works.

It’s a short document written to provide a window into the photographer’s world. It enlightens and engages – giving the audience,  (potential buyers), an understanding of you and your motivation behind your work. It can be insight into a single photo or a collection of photographs. The important thing to remember is…  it’s a living document that can change because you change.

Why should you write an artist’s statement?

People who love a photographers’ work generally want to know more about the photographer. Your statement will help your viewers answer questions they may have about you. When viewers have answers, their delight in what you shoot increases, and they have more reasons to take your photographs home with them.

Here are a few questions you can answer to help craft one:

  • Why do you create the photographs you do and what does it mean to you?
  • How does the creation of your work make you feel? What emotions do you wish to convey?
  • If the statement refers to a specific photo or series, why did you choose to represent this photo in this way? What do you call the photo and why?
  • What inspires you? How are your inspirations expressed in your work?
  • What message are you trying to convey to the viewer?
  • How is your work a reflection of you?
  • What artists (living or dead) have influenced you?
  • What is your vision/philosophy?
  • What are your goals for the future?
  • What are your techniques and style and how do these relate?
  • How do your techniques and style relate to your vision/philosophy?

How long should my artist statement be?

The key here is to express how you feel and create a statement that stands on its own and represents your work. Remember that people usually don’t have the patience to spend a lot of time reading, so it’s better to err on the shorter side. One to three paragraphs – at most.

What kind of language should I use?

Keep your statement clear and concise. Avoid flowery language and “art-speak”. This only lengthens and weakens your statement. Use language that is comfortable to you, and let your words flow. Don’t be technical. Readers won’t care what equipment or post processing software you use. Leave details about tour gear out of it.

You’re an artist at heart, so some specific terms you may wish to mention in your statement are the elements of art (line, colour, shape, value, space, form, and texture), and the principles of design (balance, emphasis, movement, harmony/unity, pattern, rhythm, proportion, and variety). Source: How to Write an Artist’s Statement by: Melissa Wotherspoon

We started out by crafting press releases for Ottawa business fifteen years ago. Today we write artist statements and PR plans for Ottawa’s most talented photographers. From experience and a marketing perspective, the more you can relate to your audience, the better your chances are of selling your work.

Where and when will I use it?

This is a common question I get, (a lot).  Here’s several instances where you artist statement will come in handy…

Where will you use it?

  • In an exhibition
  • In conjunction with your biography
  • As a boiler plate in a news releases
  • In your brochures and/or printed marketing materials
  • On your blog,  website and social media

When you will you use it?

  • Approaching a gallery with an exhibition proposal
  • Entry Form for Competitions
  • Introducing yourself to potential buyers
  • Public speaking and networking opportunities as your verbal introduction
  • Talking to clients at a private view
  • Sales presentation by an agent
  • Publications writing about your work
  • Pitch to agencies


Want to be featured?

We’ll be featuring some of Ottawa’s most talented fine art photographers in upcoming Q&A style blog posts. Want to be featured? Contact us with the words “Blog feature” in the subject of your email.

About the Author
Deanna White is owner and publicist for storylinePR, exclusive PR firm & marketing agent to Ottawa’s most talented fine art photographers. Learn more and connect at

Forced to unplug and re-connect

Image of cracked iPhone screenToday marks day number three without my iPhone. I’ve read about others who have unplugged by choice and remember thinking to myself that was something I doubt I could adapt to easily.

I’m first to admit I have an unhealthy relationship with my phone. I’m constantly checking email, reading news stories and dabbling in my social media accounts.  My out-of-office message even says that although I’m on vacation, I’m still available. That’s telling. But when you have an accident like I did, cracking the face of my iPhone that renders it unusable, you have no choice but to unplug… and you know what? It wasn’t so bad. In fact, I would go as far to say it was freeing.

My connection to the world had collapsed

Sure, it helped that I was in holiday mode and my days were action packed. Had I not been on vacation in a remote town with no access to solutions, I’m sure I would have handled the situation quite differently. I know for a fact I would not have been as calm, thinking my connection to the world had collapsed and I assure you, I would not have been going on a fourth day without my phone.

Don’t get me wrong, I completely panicked at the sight of my phone – now shards of a glass held only together by its’ sturdy  protective cover. I started exploring options right away from a land line, but after the initial shock, I was forced to accept this unfortunate mishap and I had to remind myself I was on vacation after all – which by definition is: relaxing, enjoying, and kicking back. I decided I was going to take it in stride and enjoy  what was left of it.

So, I guess THIS is what being unplugged is all about

From this experience I was forced to slow down. I convinced to myself, (and possibly out loud), ‘So, I guess THIS is what being unplugged is all about’.  I’ve made a pact to myself; and that is to check my phone less frequently – and more so off hours; to not be slave to every ding or ring I hear and each push notification I see. I am going to focus on the things that are most important to me beyond my electronic world – and just turn the damn thing off. Other than self-admitting my addiction, here are a few things I’ve come to realize as a result of being forced to unplug:

1. Pen to paper.
I started writing this blog post by hand. With a pen and paper  – remember those things? I actually got writing cramps and finger calluses (also known as writers bumps).  I started itemizing the balance of my vacation plans on said paper and making to-do lists. I actually connected my random (and sometimes convoluted) thoughts, instantly feeling more organized. I documented action items to cross off, instead of relying on the ding of my auto reminders – like a microwave announcing dinner is ready. These things are in a paper book that I now carry with me and add to frequently, by writing them down – things I can’t so easily dismiss. It also inspired me to start a personal journal again.

2. Me-time.
Being without my phone, I was a lot more relaxed. It had me reading complete novels in a matter of days, something that would have taken me weeks with the constant distraction of my phone. I realized how much I missed reading. I broke in a new pair of running shoes and went for brisk walks (sans phone) and stopped thinking of where I was going to get my next Wi-Fi connection along the way. More me-time is definitely on the top of my to do list!

3. Real connections.
Most importantly, this experience has me wanting to connect in person; to have face to face meetings and lunches with cherished colleagues and friends. Something I mistakenly confused with a ‘like’ or ‘comment’ to a post as a sufficient way of staying connected. Wrong on so many levels!

When I came home to the city, I wasn’t as frantic to get in touch with the repair shop like I initially wanted to. I’m told that when I do finally take my phone in to be fixed,  it could be another few days before I get it back, and you know what?  That’s perfectly fine.


About the Author
Deanna White has always been passionate about marketing and public relations. Owner of storylinePR, Deanna is best known for taking it beyond the pitch. For building brands & bottom lines with the right channels to share your story.

creating a brand behind the story

Telling a story is an important element of any news content you are looking to share. But what about your brand behind your story?  Marketers often focus more on the elements of the story they are trying to tell rather than concentrating on the image they are trying to provoke in their consumers mind. To establish credibility with your target audience, your story needs to provide a richer context to your brand by connecting to consumers with emotion and relevance.  Your brand has a direct connection.

I don’t know about you, but after I hear a news story and think of the company behind it, it’s the image of the company logo that always pops up in my mind. If I say “OJ Simpson and car rental”, what do you think of? What image comes to mind with words “iPhone” or “Steve Jobs”? What about “hand held device outage”? It’s often the company logo that will be associated with the story that is long remembered. We asked brand identity expert, Loreto Cheyne of Lola Design some fundamental questions about creating a brand behind the story… Here’s what she had to say.   

Read more

getting engaged

Public Relations, by definition, includes ongoing activities to ensure your company has a strong public image. Just as media is finding its way with a new online business model, so must business. Social media has re-defined PR and helped shape how companies can leverage their online reputation. It’s all about is creating content that captures media and target audiences while addressing your business goals. There are many elements of PR that can help you do this with the net effect of increasing website traffic, optimizing search engine rankings, and ultimately creating new business. Here are few…

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the DIY news release

[tweetmeme source=”storylinePR” only_single=false]Presentation is key to getting journalists to read your release.  As mentioned in my last few posts, the most important component of the news release is that it needs to have news value to the editor and his/her readers.  Resist your impulse to sell your company and build your news release one objective and newsworthy section at a time.

Introducing the DIY Release Template image of do-it-yourself logo

The key to successful release writing is to ensure it is well written and presented in the standard format journalists require it in.  Created by popular demand, we have created the StorylinePR DIY news release template.   It will be available for FREE download on January 7th.  To gain access to the template, simply email with “DIY news release” in the subject line.  We will email you a password to access the template which will guide you through writing process.

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setting PR goals

Everyone has their own reasons for integrating PR into their 2010 goals and it should be part of your overall communications program.   

To get started, you need to need to ask yourself 3 questions:

  • What do we want to accomplish? Increase understanding, awareness, build support?
  • What do we want to say?
  • Who do we want to reach?

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a new chapter

I am always optimistic when a new year begins.
For me, January 1st is a time of reflection and renewal. I look back at 2009 with a smile and think about the many challenges and accomplishments. I also take time to think about what I want to achieve in the new year, and for me, the underpinning goal is to challenge myself to out do, out think and out perform the year before.   It’s like opening a new book called “opportunity”.  Its pages are blank and I hold the pen.  So here we are, starting with chapter one – New Years Day!

 My personal wish for all my loyal readers in 2010…

  • 12 months of happiness
  • 52 weeks of fun
  • 365 days of success
  • 8,760 hours of good health
  • 525,600 minutes of good luck
  • 31,536,000 seconds of pure joy

May we all continue to learn, grow and share.

little choices… big rewards

The stories I generally create for Storyline for kids reflects a recent activity, outing or interest my daughter has and after mulling the storyline though my mind, it progresses into what I thought would be engaging to a toddler. However, with Madeline’s input, the storyline usually takes a complete 180 degree turn from what I had envisioned. The nighttime ritual goes something like this…

Once we are all tucked into bed, I lie down beside her and recite my latest story that I have concocted. “Once upon a time, there was a girl named Madeline who went on an adventure in the woods. She spotted a squirrel…” and before I can finish the thought – I get a “no mama – not a squirrel – a bear”. “Oh, how silly of me. Of course, a bear,” I say chuckling out loud and continue with the bear going to the stream to fish for his lunch instead of a squirrel climbing the tree to find his. “The bear looked in the water spotted the most colourful fish in the stream with …” Immediately- on cue – I hear a sleepy little voice say “No mama – not a fish, he saw a beaver – that built a house in the water” – “OK – the bear met a beaver who built a dam. The stream had turned into just a trickle of water that now forms a small creek and he can’t seem to find a single fish.” And so, needless to say, the story is re-created each night. And each night – we go through the evolving storyline until we get it right. How do I know? When I can run through the entire story without her wanting to change a single thing. The satisfied smile on her face as she drifts off to sleep is when I am convinced it’s finally done.

As a parent, I introduced choices at an early age. It helps in the development of cognitive abilities and teaches independence. Choice is a skill that children will use for the rest of their lives. I truly believe that by providing opportunities for children to make choices about little things when they are small, will better prepare them to make choices about big things when they grow older. By giving Madeline the opportunity to craft each story with me, it not only builds her confidence and character, but also feeds her little imagination.

The story is a masterpiece in Madeline’s eyes and is, not surprisingly, a hit with all her little friends. Madeline and her friends have become a mini-focus group for me, in every sense of the word. I pay them well, (in toddler terms – free storybooks with their names highlighted as the main character), and I get what I need in terms of feedback from my target audience. Choice gives kids a say and makes them feel important. After all, shouldn’t all children feel important? I often laugh to myself and wonder who is the one getting the education here, but in the end I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that we both end up the heroes of each story.