The other day, I was chatting with someone in the arts & culture world. 

I was telling this person about something I thought they could do to boost their organization’s own profile.  Keep in mind, I’m not an expert nor am I a critic, but the idea seemed like common sense to me.

The person politely responded and told me that it sounded like a good idea, but also told me about something else they had pursued which to me seemed like such a weak way to promote such an important organization.

Who or what the thing is doesn’t really matter.  Here’s my point.

There seems to be this HUGE wall that’s preventing arts and cultural organizations from really REACHING OUT and promoting themselves and what they do.

Could it be that they want to retain mystery for the sake of elitism?  Are they only interested in serving their small niches?  Is it because they’re seeking more money to hire PR staffers or contract out those services?

I suspect that it’s a little of all of those things and quite a quandary for many organizations. Yet many of these groups must ask the question: Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

In today’s economic, political and social climate, arts, culture and humanitarian organizations simply cannot survive on word of mouth alone.  They need to “promote their brand.”  Yet, how can they “promote their brand” without the staff to do so?

I see this with many of the artists with whom I communicate.  Many of them are brilliant and complain about the lack of exposure yet seem to be clueless about how to sell their work or “put themselves out there.”

I really think it all begins with believing in yourself and your mission.  No one can MAKE you believe in yourself.  No one can GIVE you passion.  That must come from within. 

Arts, culture and humanitarian organizations and even individuals desperately need to take their cues from the sports world.  The NBA, NFL and NHL among others are awash in money from self promotion.  They all came from essentially nothing and had to start somewhere.  Today, you can barely escape the endless self promotion conducted by the sports world.

Which came first … sports enthusiasts or sports promotion?  The chicken or the egg?

Ultimately, does it even matter?  I implore arts and cultural organizations to take off the blinders, get the lead out and strip off anything or ANY NOTION that is holding you back.

YOU CAN DO THIS!  You CAN create enthusiasm and support for your cause.  You CAN get donor and corporate support.  You CAN sell your work.  You CAN get people to believe in what you do.

However, YOU must first believe yourself.  Have you met anyone who appreciates a half-hearted speech or limp handshake?  NO.

Artists and humanitarians, let’s DO this.  Let’s break through the wall and this ceiling that’s preventing us from promoting what we do.  We’re doing very important work.  If we don’t believe in it and promote it, then who will?

I talk with brilliantly creative people every day and yet these are the same people who somehow don’t apply that same creativity to how they promote themselves.

There’s no shame in self promotion.  The shame comes when you do NOT tell people about how you’re contributing to society in ways that may actually help them!  That’s called SELFISHNESS.

So let’s BE BOLD!  CONQUER DOUBT and get out there!  Promote your cause!  CONSTANTLY tweet about it … tell everyone on Facebook about it … Google Plus it and hook up with everyone on Linkedin.  Share what you do with people in line at Starbucks.

You MUST believe in yourself and your organization.  This approach won’t cost you one red cent.

This I know for sure.  How many times, dear reader, have you not spoken up in support of yourself and your cause when YOU KNOW you SHOULD have?

See?  Am I right?  I know, I know.  You didn’t do it, when you should have.  No matter.  Just make sure you speak up the next time.  Yes, it’s exhausting and yes, you take a huge risk in getting rejected.

Hey … that comes with the gig.  Next time, just “Man Up” … “Woman Up” and JUST DO IT!  It’s gets easier and can even be fun.

There’s no shame in self promotion.