Marketing for arts researchers: the basics

Marketing yourself and your research in the arts can be a tricky concept. Where should you begin? What information should you make public? How can you stand out? Here Peter Kirwan provides advice on raising your academic profile and spreading the word about your research.

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Getting started

For arts researchers, particularly those working alone, it is vital to be proactive in telling people about your work. Once you have established your online presence and begun writing your thesis, it is the perfect time to build on your activities and start actively marketing your research to your peers.

The good news is that the early stages of self-promotion are relatively straightforward:

  • create an online profile
  • present your research
  • learn how to talk about your research

Use these opportunities to build your confidence as you go. Here are some other important strategies:

Online networking

Social networking is increasingly useful as an academic tool. It is generally considered acceptable to add new academic contacts (such as people you meet at conferences) to your Facebook, or Twitter accounts.

As you establish your social online presence, you can make your voice heard in online debates. The Guardian Arts pages, for example, feature wide-ranging discussions of urgent arts issues, which may provide a good opportunity to establish your own voice.

Investigate other research networks and e-mail lists related to your work. Subject centres, research hubs, and specialist groups often keep lists, which are open to all members. Join the professional societies appropriate to your discipline and take the time to follow their updates.

Write regularly

Writing regularly can be another good way of extending your profile. For example, try keeping a PhD blog. You can review relevant books, comment on articles and link your posts to your online portfolio.

Many journals are constantly looking for book reviewers; these have the benefit of not only getting your name into print, but introducing you to active editors and, often, getting free books relevant to your work. Reviewing is one of the most proactive ways of introducing yourself into the scholarly arts community. It will help you improve your writing style and get familiar with the publishing process.

Be on the lookout for other outlets, too: often non-academic societies (e.g. The Historical Association) and professional publications (e.g. Arts Professional) will welcome academic content.

Create videos and podcasts

As well as text pieces, think about whether podcasts, videos or interviews might be appropriate to your work and allow you to reach a much wider audience. Think about how you might take advantage of an event or visiting speaker, for example.

Resources for exploring this at Warwick include Thinking Aloud and the University’s Communications Office. These can be distributed via iTunesU and youtube, advertising your work to a wide audience.

Contact researchers with shared interests

Directly contacting academics may be one of the most daunting aspects of marketing yourself, but can be hugely rewarding. It is an acceptable part of academic networking to introduce yourself, either in person or via e-mail, even to senior academics. This does not mean that they will always have time to sit down for a long conversation; but generally, academics are pleased to be contacted by students.

If contacting an academic for the first time via e-mail, do not make it too long or involved. You might like to tell them that something they wrote has particularly influenced your work, or ask them for more detail on points they have raised elsewhere.

Useful links

Image Josep Thomas I Bigas, Wikicommons

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