[This guest post was written by Jem Bahaijoub, the founder of Imagine PR, a music marketing and PR agency based in Washington, D.C.]
If you can’t afford the luxury of a publicist, dealing with the media can be a daunting, even overwhelming task.
But it is also a necessary one, and to make the process bearable, there are a number of things you must do BEFORE you can approach music journalists. Here are a handful of tips:
Research, Research, Research!
The first step is to research the media you want to approach in each city. Put together a list of TARGETED media, and familiarize yourself with their submissions process and editorial lead-times.
This involves old-fashioned legwork – find the biographies of certain journalists and read past articles, and call editorial teams to ensure you have the right person’s contact details. This will take time, but taking a targeted approach to your campaign will pay off. It will be much more beneficial to reach out to 50 journalists you know cover your genre of music (and cater your pitch to each one), than send impersonal emails out to 150 journalists whom you are unfamiliar with. Journalists will notice your attention to detail and are much more likely to get back to you. It will also avoid the problem of calling or emailing them when they are on an editorial deadline.
Be Physical AND Digital
Although we are moving more and more towards a digital submissions process, there are still plenty of journalists who want to receive physical product for review. Thereʼs something about receiving a well designed, professionally produced CD with eye-catching artwork that still says, “Take me seriously.”
Those adjectives are key. DO NOT send demo CDs or CDR copies of your album. They will not get reviewed. Your best bet is to have both physical CDs ready to send, and also have your full album available for download and streaming via a secret link. SoundCloud is great for this.
If you are sending physical CDs, do NOT send them shrink-wrapped. Also, always put a sticker on the CD with your full contact information; the CD will probably get separated from the press release.
Keep It to One Page
If you are sending out physical product, you donʼt need to send reams of information with it. I recommend sending a one page press release or biography that sums up your music, unique selling points and career highlights and achievements so far. If you aren’t a good writer, then get a professional to write something for you. Itʼs deﬁnitely worth the investment. If your one-sheet is good enough, you may even see journalists use certain sentences/summaries in their write-up about you. Itʼs also helpful to have the press release or biography professionally designed with your album artwork or logo on it. The more visually engaging, the better.
Online Press Kit
Always have your press kit available online too with your press release, biography and press photos available all as downloadable documents. Also have high-res and low-res versions of your press photos. You can have this available on your website and/or utilize sites such as Reverbnation, SonicBids or drop.io.
Be Web Ready
This may seem obvious, but you should make sure all your online platforms are up to date before pitching to media. If a journalist is interested in you, he/she will most definitely check you out online. Although Myspace has declined in popularity from a social networking perspective, many journalists still go there first to listen to your ﬁrst track before deciding to request a copy or download of your album. Make sure the ﬁrst track on all your online music players is your strongest!
Also, make sure your website and social networking sites are branded consistently. Make it easy for the journalists to listen to your music and find further information about you.
Follow Up, Up and Away
Last but not least, donʼt forget to follow up on ALL your media outreach. Journalists receive hundreds of pitches per day, so you really need to draw attention to your enquiry. They will expect this. Just make sure you are courteous and professional with your follow up, and ensure that your persistence doesn’t turn into harassment.