Telling Tales: the power of story in the media

June 10, 2016
Russian-born American ballerina and Hollywood actress, Tamara Toumanova, whose pearl and aquamarine suite was sold by Sandra Cronan at the BADA Fair in 2013
Russian-born American ballerina and Hollywood actress, Tamara Toumanova, whose pearl and aquamarine suite was sold by Sandra Cronan at the BADA Fair in 2013

We’re often talking to clients about how and why some pieces, events or exhibitions get publicity and others don’t. The truth is, when working with the media, the reason is not necessarily the artistic merits of the work alone, but the story surrounding it. There are some key factors that are very likely to capture a journalist’s attention and get the client the exposure they are looking for.

 

 When it comes to the art market, there are three main questions the media might ask in order to deem something newsworthy: is the asking price for the item especially high? is the object highly unusual or particularly interesting to look at? does the piece have an intriguing provenance?

 

 The first may seem the simplest: is it worth a lot of money? And, yes, a price tag of over a million is sure to capture the media’s attention. However, unless you are exceptionally lucky, it may be that you won’t be able to compete with the major auction houses on the basis of high value alone. So, how does your piece compare to other works by the same artist? Is it approaching a world-record? Or, conversely, is it a real bargain? You can get stunning Picasso ceramics that are surprisingly affordable that may be exactly what an interiors writer is looking for.

 

The second factor is purely aesthetic and this is for the picture desks. Is the item an extravagantly beautiful diamond tiara? Is it a sculpturesque glass coffee table beautifully shot by a good photographer? Equally, is it quirky or unusual? For instance, a cigar cutter in the shape of a French guillotine could perfect for a gentlemen’s buying-guide.

 

 The third option, my personal favourite, can have the most success in the media because it appeals to our voracious curiosity about other people’s lives. Who did the object once belong to? A prince? An office-worker who didn’t know what he had? Was it a gift to the mistress of a theatre director, or from a teacher to his ballet prodigy? Has it remained hidden for many years? Or, and this is could be the most desirable possibility of all, is it a new discovery, never before seen on the market?

 

 The truth is that works of art are best appreciated in the flesh – it is only when you are standing in front of them that you can be impacted, altered or moved by them. So, in print, we need to find a different way to move the beholder, and that is through stories.

About the author

Phoebe Ladenberg

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