My favorite PR anecdote goes something like this:
A public relations director is holding a press conference to announce a new show. All of the press is there and ready when he receives a phone call telling him that his wife had just passed away. When one of the reporters offered her condolences, he replied "It's a tragedy, she would have loved this show."
Thats being a PR zealot.
Understand that there are plenty of people out there who will tear down your product or organization. In fact, some of the worst critics actually work for your organization! They will be the ones sniping about the show, or the exhibit, or how "it's a bomb".
Outside your arts group you will have critics, reporters, malcontents, artists who feel they could have done it better, conservatives who feel that the show was too liberal, liberals who feel your display was to conservative, etc, etc.
It is up to you to be the cheerleader for your organization and its product. Period. Your personal feelings about the product being offered are irrelevant, if you can't tell your audience that they need to attend this production, then you need to rethink your employment.
Understand that your organization is going to have a "dog". When you present 12 productions a year, or 14 exhibits, or 6 recitals, not all of them are going to be brilliant. It's the arts after all--but it is up to you to minimize the negative feeling both inside and outside your organization by focusing on the positive.
• Find something, anything, intriguing about the offering and push that to the press.
• If the show is less then stellar, keep it to yourself.
• Never, ever give a negative comment about your organization anywhere. Not at a party, a dinner, on the phone, and certainly not on the web.
• Train anyone who has "front of house" contact to keep comments to themselves. Do you know how many sales can be lost by one box office person who thought the show "wasn't very good."?
• Stay upbeat, stay energetic, and stay on message.