Press Kits: What Arts Orgs Actually Want


By: Drew McManus

In: Design & Branding, Marketing & Communications

Press kits are easy, all it takes is making some photos and a pdf bio available then call it a day, right? Guess again.

While that might be the bare minimum from days past, an effective artist press kit requires considerably more time and effort to craft.

It isn’t unfair to say most arts marketers have anywhere from 5-20 minutes per event for compiling all the related artist information. That includes promo images, bios, and any program specific copy.

Unfortunately, too many artists and/or their managers make those tasks so difficult, they run over that allotted time and must cut corners. In that scenario, there’s simply no way to avoid a lose-lose outcome.

While an effective press kit requires some time to put together, it isn’t difficult. Better still, you’ll be more than happy with the return on investment.

For this article, we’ll use violinist, Holly Mulcahy* as the example artist.

What Press Kits Should Contain


  • Bio (required):
    • docx or Google doc format.
    • pdf format is fine but only as a secondary offering. Never (ever!) force arts marketers to use pdf files as a copy/paste resource.
  • Social Media Profiles and Handles (required):
    • A handy list of all social media profile URLs in docx or Google doc format.
    • If the artist uses one or more regular hashtags, include those along with a description of how they are used.
  • Reviews and/or Testimonials (optional):
    • Include up to a dozen reviews and/or testimonials in docx or Google doc format.
    • For reviews, include the source URL.
  • Photo Credits (optional):
    • If necessary, be sure to make the photo credits clear and easy to apply via a docx or Google doc format.


  • Images: I’m a big believer in making things as easy as possible for arts marketers. That means the more we can provide that falls into the most common media requests column, the better. To that end, you should provide images in all major aspect ratios (the ratio of the width to the height of an image). That includes Landscape format (images that are wider than they are tall), Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Portrait (images that are taller than they are wide), and a copy of the landscape images in websafe format:
    • Landscape aspect ratio (16:9), print quality: no less than 2450px wide by 1378px high, 300dpi, 100% quality.
    • Facebook: 1200px wide by 628px high, 72dpi, 100% quality.
    • Twitter: 1024px wide by 512px high, 72dpi, 100% quality.
    • Instagram (square aspect ratio): up to 2450px square, 72dpi, 100% quality.
    • Portrait, print quality: this has some flexibility in that you can use any existing standard format such as 4:5, 5:7, or 2:3. So long as the width is at least 2450px wide, 300dpi, and 100% quality.
    • Landscape aspect ratio, websafe (16:9): 1280px wide by 720px high, 72dpi, 20%-40% quality.

Pro-Tip: avoid using random alpha-numeric file names. At the very least, be sure to include the artist name and avoid special characters or periods as part of the file name. Optional, but useful, info to include is the image date or photo credit.

Why 16:9 for landscape?

While you can certainly use other aspect ratios for your landscape HD images (you can even kill two birds with one stone by using the Facebook dimensions), I’ve found 16:9 is one of the most effective options that works everywhere from hero images to print advertisements.

It also provides an obvious point in the image for inserting logos and/or promotional text:

The purpose is to make things as easy as possible for arts marketers to produce the best looking, most effective promotional material. And for those with image editing skills and software, they’ll have an easier time cropping an image into the aspect ratio they need if the source is a 16:9 landscape.

The 16:9 aspect ratio with the artist located off center provides a foolproof way to make sure logos, embedded text, etc. is in the best possible location. I recommend locating the subject material to the right and leave some negative space around two of the edges (such as top and right) #GoldenSpiral.

Where Press Kit Content Should Live

Traditionally, one of the best options was to include all this content as downloadable material at the artist website. But in the age of cloud storage, you’ll have a much easier time managing that content by keeping it somewhere like Google Drive, DropBox, or any one of the readily available cloud storage providers.

You can swap out versions faster than replacing downloadable versions at a website and the cloud storage location means easier access for arts marketers.

Here’s a breakdown of everything inside Holly Mulcahy’s press kit via Google Drive:

  1. Each of the folders contains the specialty formats. Be sure to include clear labels indicating which are HD and websafe versions.
  2. Include HD versions for the aspect ratio you want to promote most. In this example, these are HD versions of the 16:9 aspect ratio images.
  3. Bio, Social Media Profiles, Reviews/Testimonials, and Photo Credits. Clearly label each version.

Don’t Forget About Permissions!

Regardless which cloud storage provider you use, you’ll want to be extra diligent about making sure the share settings only allow for content to be downloaded. Do not allow outside visitors the ability to edit, delete, or add new content.

While that may seem #obvi it overlooked more often than it should.


*Full Disclosure: Ms. Mulcahy is the author’s wife.

Drew McManus
Drew McManus
In addition to my consulting business, I'm also the Principal of Venture Industries Online but don’t let that title fool you into thinking I'm just a tech geek. I bring 20+ years of global broad-based arts consulting experience to the table to help clients break the cycle of choosing one-size-fits-none solutions and instead, deliver options allowing them to get ahead of the tech curve instead of trying to catch up by going slower. With the vision of legacy support strategy and the delights of creative insights, my mission is to deliver a sophisticated next generation technology designed especially for the field of performing arts. The first step in that journey began in 2010 when The Venture Platform was released, a purpose-designed managed website development solution designed especially for arts organizations and artists. For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, lead a team of intrepid arts pros to hack the arts, lead an arts business incubator, and love a good coffee drink.
Author Archive

2 thoughts on “Press Kits: What Arts Orgs Actually Want”

    • Glad you found the content useful Jennifer. As of now, all of those dimensions and instructions for setting permission levels inside Google Drive and Dropbox haven’t changed so there’s not really anything that needs updating there.

      If there’s any other specific element you’re curious about, let me know, otherwise, I can say that I still use this article for my own clients and users as a resource and it’s been working out great.


Leave a Comment