Public Relations for Licensors – Artists, Designers, Characters & Brands – and My Top Ten Promotional Techniques

14 04 2015

Question:  What gives exposure, makes an impression and moves your business forward.

Answer: Public Relations.

As many of you know, I am a firm proponent of public relations as a marketing tool. It’s truly amazing that we have control over so much content these days. I discussed this in last month’s All Art Licensing Infoletter article, ‘Maximize Your Publicity-New Media Mix Offers Many Avenues to Tell Your Story.’ Click here to read or download.

Tomorrow I’m teaching ‘Public Relations for Today’s Licensor,’ one of my favorite and most important classes, which has been fully updated and revamped for 2015. If you really don’t understand how Public Relations works and want to either do-it-yourself (DIY) or manage your PR agency with more finesse, then invest in yourself and take this course. We’ll be covering how to develop your own lead lists and EXACTLY how to write press releases. In addition, I cover the top PR mistakes to avoid, plus social media techniques, top journalistic writing recommendations and a growing list of HOT press tips (which now exceeds 20) to get you noticed! I hope you will join me tomorrow. You can even register and get your questions answered during the class, but take the course at another time. In addition to an 80+ illustrated handout, you will receive the audio file the day after the class, so you can listen at your convenience. The cost is $60. Register here.

Today I’m sharing with you my Top Ten Self-Promotion Tips. I hope you will print them out and commit them to memory. One of the reasons that some of these, shall I say OBVIOUS, points made it to my Top Ten List, is because people, marketers, brands, artists, creators and companies of all kinds…STILL refuse to do them!

Say 'Hi!' if you see me at Licensing Expo or Surtex. Illustration courtesy of Debbie Tomassi who created 'Bodacious Broads.'

Say ‘Hi!’ if you see me at Licensing Expo or Surtex. Illustration courtesy of Debbie Tomassi who created ‘Bodacious Broads.’

1. 24/7 Marketing is Key – make it a habit…repeat…repeat.
2. Join the Conversation – real connections hold real power.
3. Target Your Ideal Clients – or your dream won’t become reality.
4. Develop a Mailing List of Interested People – get permission to send them updates.
5. Don’t Ask for Subscribers – change “subscribe” to “get updates.”
6. Blogs Need Promotion Too – if you have decided that blogging is key to your business, then promote it. Make sure you have a focus, that the blog is targeted to only ONE audience, and that your time investment will pay-off.
7. Have a Personal Story – don’t hide the personal side.
8. Don’t Forget to Call or Email – find a good reason to work with interesting people with the right knowledge and contacts and then reach out to them individually.
9. Think About the Long Term – make sure your plans include short and long-term goals and tactics.
10. Be Enjoyable and Professional to Work With – you would be amazed at how few people are and how much this will make you stand out!

Another great place to get self-promotion tips is from Austin Kleon’s book titled, ‘Show Your Work!’ Here’s a fun and beneficial quick-read article from Fast Company Magazine.

Check out All Art Licensing’s complete line up of Worldwide Creator’ Intensive Courses (we don’t just hold classes, we train thoroughly). Click here for the April schedule or to register for the “Public Relations for Today’s Licensor’ course.

New Year’s Advice for Entrepreneurial Artists and Creators

1 01 2015

With the New Year beginning today, I thought this would be a good time to share some key points I presented at one of the conferences I attended last year. I believe these are important reminders for entrepreneurs with an artistic or creative business.

J'net Smith meets with Zach Hampton creator of College Dayz online comic and Christiana Bleadsoe of G3EK for a mentoring session at the CEO Conference.

J’net Smith meets with Zach Hampton creator of College Dayz online comic and Christiana Bleadsoe of G3EK for a mentoring session at the CEO Conference.

I was honored to speak at the CEO (Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization) Conference in Orlando with other exceptional business owners. I spoke about licensing your concepts, characters and art, and then joined in on a panel, giving our best advice to some very energetic college students about entrepreneurial careers. The CEO Conference was co-hosted by SEA (Self-Employment in the Arts), an outstanding group which focuses on training for college students and those planning to run their own creative business and for whom I am an ‘Ambassador.’

I feel strongly that we need to share our talents and experience with students, young businesspeople, and burgeoning entrepreneurs because while they have more options than ever (a GOOD thing); they also have more options than ever (a TOUGH thing). For certainly, with more options, comes more complexity.

Since it’s part of my job to simplify and make understandable complex business issues, I thoroughly enjoyed being at the CEO Conference. It was a busy event, which made me think a great deal about the days when my career was just beginning to unfold and I had so many important decisions to make. As a young woman, one of these decisions was—‘Do I move to NYC with just a suitcase and a smile?’ I decided ‘yes’ and it was one of the best decisions I ever made.

I had to learn quickly and thoroughly the in’s and out’s of the global licensing arena in order to succeed in developing creative properties in NYC’s corporate environment and then beyond. Here are a few pieces of advice that I know will help many of you starting your own creative businesses:

(L to R) Ed Wimp, Greta Pope, J'net Smith and Mike Veny -   CEO Conference Panel on: Making a Living in the Arts, Sponsored by Self-Employment in the Arts

(L to R) Ed Wimp, Greta Pope, J’net Smith and Mike Veny – CEO Conference Panel: Making a Living in the Arts, Sponsored by Self-Employment in the Arts

1) Run your art business like a business — Some creators think that learning to be an entrepreneur crushes their creativity. Do NOT let this be you! Learn as much as possible, as quickly as possible, about how to make a viable income with your art by creating a viable business. Creating a business is actually much like creating your art. You must envision it, allow it to develop and then do it—bringing it into reality. You need to learn about business models, cash flow, marketing, sales, distribution, strategic alliances, contracts, negotiations, trends and more. You will then be one of the lucky few who actually DOES make a living in a career they love. There is no need to be a starving artist.

2) Find a PROVEN business model — First decide what you want to do and do it! There is nothing as draining as indecision. Find a proven business model that comes closest to what you want your business to be and then follow the example. Whether your creative path is through galleries, art/character licensing, government grants, or something else, you must work within the industries’ parameters and emulate the successful models in order to duplicate their achievements. Once your business is supporting itself, you can then change or expand your business to make things fit you, your dreams and goals more closely.

3) Don’t be afraid of selling yourself & marketing your business — It’s all about finding the right audience for your product (art, characters, designs, skills, services, etc.) and finding ways to profitably get it to the manufacturers, retailers and consumers. If you don’t develop a consistent marketing and sales plan and routine, maintaining it with a strong discipline, you won’t have a business. However, the good news is, if you do develop a serious dedication and continuous motivation, coupled with a strong learning curve and work ethic, you will almost certainly succeed.

4) Do as much as you can on your own — Listen to advice whenever you can. Pay for it if necessary. Attend trade shows, classes, events and conferences with your peers, industry experts and your (B2B and B2C) target audiences, as often as possible. Meet with business associates wherever opportunities present themselves. Then, get as much advice as possible on choosing business partners for all those things you can’t, or don’t want to, do yourself. Remember you have to spend money to make money; but you don’t have to spend a fortune to make a fortune. Learn your strengths and weaknesses, as well as how far you can push yourself. Then build your team by spending your time and energy on your strengths and delegating and investing in those whose strengths are your weaknesses.

I think that continually living outside your comfort zone is exactly why and how growth occurs and is where the brightest and best entrepreneurs are inevitably found. And remember the best advice anyone can ever give you is—‘go for it; you can do it!’

If any of you have questions about art and character licensing, business and brand development, please come and ask your questions during our next free Ask J’net Q&A.

FREE ‘Ask J’net Q&A’
Tuesday, January 6, 2015 – 12 noon – 1 p.m. PDT/3 p.m. – 4 p.m. EDT

Start the New Year off right by getting your art, design and character licensing questions answered by J’net during this free one-hour ‘live’ phone event. You just sign-up here for the class. When registering, there is a place at the bottom of the form to write your questions. J’net will answer as many questions as possible during the hour, all you need to do is call in at the specific time to get the answers to your questions and learn from others’ questions. Please note: You will receive your Dial-in number and Access Code for the class the night before the event from All Art Licensing.

‘Launching and Leveraging Your Annual Marketing Plan’
Tuesday, January 13, 2015 — 12 noon – 1:30 p.m. PDT/3 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. EDT
Price: $60

The New Year is traditionally the perfect time to launch your annual plan. If you don’t already have a plan or need new ideas to increase your licensing sales success in 2015, then I have created this course for you. The class will cover how to develop a marketing calendar for the year, including portfolio development, trade shows, sales timing and techniques, public relations, and social media. You will learn how to organize all of this into a comprehensive plan of action that you can manage and execute to improve your licensing sales results. The major emphasis of the class will be leveraging what you have in your current business to the next, more profitable level. Please note: This is a live audio event, which will also be video recorded. It will include a full PDF presentation booklet, as a part of the course. Any registered attendees who wish to apply to be included in our live stream video beta test, please contact me directly after registering. Included in the purchase price, all registered attendees will receive audio of the class for their personal review.

With the New Year here, it’s such a great time to take inventory of yourself, your habits, your business and goals so you can move to a new level! I look forward to connecting with you in 2015!

Clever Circus Theme Will Burst On the Scene at Licensing Expo

14 06 2014
Pop the Balloon Adventures in Ice Cream Land (c) Carlos Neville

Pop the Balloon Adventures in Ice Cream Land (c) Carlos Neville

Carlos Neville has attended Licensing Expo several years before launching his adventurous character ‘Pop the Ballooon.’  It’s a great example of a property which revolves around graphic design, clever sayings and soon a story, as well. But unlike many cartoon characters today, Pop can’t help but find danger everywhere. I think you will agree there is a lot to Pop.

(c) Carlos Neville

(c) Carlos Neville

Girl Nation is Top Nominee in ‘One to Watch’ Contest at Licensing Expo 2014

11 06 2014
(c) Girl Nation

(c) Girl Nation

I was thrilled to be able to talk with Vicki DeRoeck and Deb Dittmer, from Running Dog Graphics, this week about how they developed their new brand Girl Nation. Anyone who is striving to create a brand at home and wondering how to get out their and grow a brand from scratch needs to watch this video. These fearless gals have never attended the Licensing Expo before and have a Booth set to launch their new property. I will be talking with them again at Licensing Expo and after the event to see how the whole experience pans out for them.


(c) Girl Nation

(c) Girl Nation

4 Informational (& Motivational) Online Classes—with Special Guest Speaker

20 03 2014

Many times I have noticed that people (including myself sometimes) say and want to learn and increase their knowledge about a given subject, such as art licensing. Yet often it does not happen. The problem is that often there is no action or follow through to that desire, and therefore, no increased learning or movement forward.

The reason for this, I think, can be lack of continuous motivation. A daily habit of creating a motivation focused on your goals has to be developed. So you will remain motivated until you achieve your desire. This is one of the reasons, I continuously refine and present such detailed classes and blogs, month after month. I want you to succeed!

I have scheduled 4 new classes this spring, including two FREE Q&A’s, as well as two affordable, comprehensive courses.  All classes are designed to inspire and stimulate your desire to succeed in your goals, by providing practical and immediately useful information.

Join our Free Ask J’net Q&A on March 26th and May 14th for some ‘hot’ answers to your most pressing art marketing and licensing questions.

Below is our spring schedule of classes, part of the Worldwide Creators’ Intensive series.

Meanwhile, share this with your friends and colleagues; peruse the courses and register ASAP to get your questions answered!

Ask J’net Q&A’s

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014 – 12 noon to 1 p.m. PST/3 p.m. – 4 p.m. EST

Wednesday, May 14th, 2014 – 12 noon to 1 p.m. PST/3 p.m. – 4 p.m. EST

Price: FREE Register: HERE

These one-hour classes are a ‘live’ phone event, where you provide the questions about art, design & character licensing and J’net provides the answers. When registering online, just write your question at the bottom of the form. J’net will answer as many questions as possible during the hour, all you need to do is call in at the specific time to get answers to your questions and learn from others’ questions.

Please note: You will receive your Dial-in number and Access Code for the class the night before the event from All Art Licensing. This is not an 800 number, so your standard long distance fees will apply.

NEW–Today’s PR and Promotion Essentials for Art Licensors

I’m excited to announce that I will be joined by Guest Presenter, Greg Walsh of Walsh PR, who will discuss Social Media’s role, mistakes to avoid and hot tips and trends in PR today!!

Date: Wednesday April 9, 2014

Time: 12 noon – 2 p.m. PDT/3 p.m. – 5 p.m. EDT

Duration: 2 hours including Q&A

Price: $60 Register: HERE

This class is for the emerging and intermediate level art licensor, those who both have agents and are working solo.  Join me for a comprehensive course that moves you from wondering how to get the word out about your business to managing your own press and promotions (or understanding how to manage your PR agency or agent, if they handle your press).

The class will teach you how to:

·        develop your goals and create your own press plan

·        create targeted press lists

·        write effective press releases

·        build a press kit (and your brand)

·        determine priorities within Social Media, press and promotions

·        PR mistakes to avoid

·        plus 15 HOT press tips to turn up the HEAT!

The goal is for you to understand the PR tactics that will gain you exposure and build your brand and business.  This course will include more than 50 slides with guidelines and visual examples that relate to the licensing industry.

Greg Walsh of Walsh Public Relations, out of Fairfield, CT, will join J’net in presenting a part of this course.  A public relations veteran of 20+ years, Greg has extensive experience in creating PR campaigns through both the consumer and trade media. The brands, properties,and products he has successfully represented include: ZIGGY, U-Haul, Honeywell, The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, National Geographic, Wild Republic Retail Stores, Barbie®, Hot Wheels®, Lalaloopsy, Batman®, Chicken Soup for the Soul®, MTV Game, Slylock Fox & Comics For Kids.

NEW–Character Licensing (Emerging Artist/Beginner Level)–This course has been totally updated and expanded.

Date: Wednesday May 21st, 2014

Time: 12 noon – 2 p.m. PDT/3 p.m. – 5 p.m. EDT

Duration: 2 hours including Q&A

Price: $60 Register: HERE

This course is an introduction to character licensing for cartoonists, animators and illustrators. A lot of creators ask: “What can I do with my characters?” This class will show you some very practical and useful answers to this question.

In this course, we will explore character licensing from the beginning first steps to the first signed contract. This class will teach you how to design characters to enhance their licensing potential, create exposure, leverage business opportunities, know when you are ready to license products and choose the product categories which are best for your characters. We will also cover the most important things to watch for and avoid.

If you are more inclined to create characters, than designs, then this is the right class for you. Your characters make sense to you…now let me help you make sure they will appeal to the broadest possible audience.  With the right industry knowledge and strategic thinking, you can learn how to share them with the world.

Remember, that if you want to attend a class, but have a scheduling conflict, the 2-hour courses always include a PowerPoint presentation & full audio, which will be provided the day after the live event. So sign up, save a few bucks by registering for the live event, but listen to them whenever you like!

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