Arts of the UK 2020: An Interview with Chloé Nelkin, Director of Arts PR Agency Chloé Nelkin Consulting
LONDON – Having just celebrated their 10th anniversary last month, PR, marketing and consulting agency Chloé Nelkin Consulting (CNC) continues to lead the pack when it comes to the arts. To date, the agency can name a wide range of organisations across public and private sectors they’ve served over the years, including, but not limited to the VAULT Festival, the Bunker, Nevill Holt Opera, Totally Thames, Little Death Club, the Old Royal Naval College and the Guildhall Art Gallery.
CNC’s success is primarily thanks to the strong leadership of director Chloé Nelkin herself, whose extensive knowledge of the arts, passion, experience and her dedication ensures that she and the company continue to provide care and exceptional advice to all their clients. And now, in these difficult times, the arts are facing their share of troubles in the UK, and it’s all everyone can do to try and stay positive and ride out the storm.
In the meantime, we spoke to Chloé Nelkin herself, and found out more about what it takes to run a successful arts PR agency, and sought her expert advice on how PR continues to survive and assist in the arts scene during these times. Read the interview in full below:
Bakchormeeboy: Not many PR companies have started with the explicit aim of working in the arts scene. How and why did Chloé Nelkin Consulting decide to specialise in the arts?
Chloé: Arts was always something I loved and was a huge part of my upbringing. I had gone to the theatre and art galleries from a very young age, relished getting covered in clay making ambitious ceramics and was a keen flautist and singer. While studying History of Art at The Courtauld Institute of Art, I was involved in the East Wing Collection and, through this, I realised that arts PR was the right niche for me. During this time, I met TAG Fine Arts and worked with them to look after the PR for an exhibition of Rob Ryan papercuts. That was ten years ago and I’m thrilled that CNC has gone from strength to strength, working with highly prestigious art fairs and heritage organisations, London’s must-see cultural attractions, large-scale arts festivals, theatre from West End shows to small-scale pieces staged by new writers at the start of their careers, and the Edinburgh Fringe.
Bakchormeeboy: Do you have any tips on how to make a successful PR pitch for the arts?
Chloé: To pitch successfully you have to find a story and work out what makes the specific project stand out. Do the people involved have amazing credits or a fascinating personal story? Is there an interesting theme? Is there something about the project that links to a current news story? Is there a unique angle to the project? Beyond just having belief in the project you’re working on, you need to unpick it to find the interesting angles.
Bakchormeeboy: Over the years, we’re sure you’ve encountered countless clients of all backgrounds. What was one of CNC’s most memorable campaigns?
Chloé: One of our most special campaigns was probably the first year we looked after Pleasance’s PR and ran their Edinburgh press office. Edinburgh is an incredible launchpad for new writers and new companies trying out work for the first time on this giant stage. It’s has a very special place in CNC’s heart and I’ve personally been going to the Fringe since I was a teenager.
Those of you who know Edinburgh will know that Pleasance is one of the key venues with sites at the Dome in Bristo Square, the amazing Pleasance Courtyard, the EICC and various exciting pop-ups across the City. They’re a very special client who share our ethos of treating those we work with like a giant extended family and so we’re very in tune with each other.
The madness of the Edinburgh Fringe never ceases to amaze – it’s a giant beast which takes over every part of the city turning the most unsuspecting buildings into performance venues. While Fringe planning is sadly suspended this year, we have no doubt that 2021 is going to be amazing and we’re already excited to be going back there with Pleasance and our own roster of shows.
Bakchormeeboy: The arts and heritage industry relies on having paying audiences filling venues to make a living. With the closure of venues, how can audiences continue to support these companies and artists?
Chloé: Many theatres, including those we work with, are asking the public to consider donating the cost of their tickets rather than having a full refund. Of course, not everyone is able to do this but for those who can even the smallest contribution can offer major help. Aside from this, audiences can still lend support to the companies they love by watching streamed performances, engaging with their content on social media or just sending them a message of solidarity to show they’ll be there to watch their work when this is all over!
Bakchormeeboy: Even when venues open again, there is likely to be plenty of uncertainty in the air. How do you see PR’s role in speeding along this road to recovery for the arts?
Chloé: PR can help spread positive messages about what companies are doing and hopefully tell stories that will draw audiences back into venues when they reopen. There can be no doubt that there will be uncertainty but I know that, on the other side of these weird times, audiences will be eager for their arts and their culture fix and there will be amazing projects ready to greet them.
Bakchormeeboy: Having just celebrated the company’s 10th anniversary, what’s your advice for staying strong throughout the years, being able to weather anything the world throws at you, and keeping this going for years to come?
Chloé: Our 10th anniversary was an amazing moment to bring together the many people we have worked with and supported over the years. My top tip is to be honest, to be true to your own beliefs and goals, and not to compromise to find an easy route. That honesty should extend to those you work with – your colleagues and your clients. This is a key ethos of CNC and something I think is crucial to enable you to weather any storm and keep going.
Also remember that some things are best left until the next day! Sometimes you may be aggravated, upset or frustrated and just need to take a pause and step back from that situation. Sending an angry email will never get you very far.
Bakchormeeboy: When all this is finally over and we can properly step out of our homes and socialise again, what’s the thing you’re most looking forward to doing?
Chloé: I am most looking forward to normal everyday things – things I didn’t even think I’d miss. I’m looking forward to commuting to the office, getting a cup of coffee and a croissant on the way, having a morning huddle with my team, going to meetings, hugging someone hello, going to the theatre or an art gallery and then sharing a bottle of wine with a friend in the evening. I’m looking forward to people and the everyday and having my routine back in place.
Find out more about Chloé Nelkin Consulting via their website here