By Ed Teja
In part one we talked about your theme, then in part two investigated using it to write a press release, or several releases. Now we need to figure out what to do with all that work.
The PR Job
Part of your job as the public relations person for your band or music is to find places that your message fits. Sure it is easy to see the big kids getting stories on themselves in the people pages, but until you are a name, that isn’t your goal. Your goal is to establish relationships with the media that cover what you do and, over time, give them a sense of your story. This is going to be a lot of work, but there aren’t many effective shortcuts.
In starting, you need to look at the media that cater to local and regional stories in your back yard. Because you are local, you have a leg up on other bands. That means you want your story to go to local radio stations, newspapers, regional magazines, and local television. One press release in that market might not make a splash. That’s okay. You don’t build an image overnight, just as you don’t make a career out of one CD (or shouldn’t want to).
When I was a magazine editor, often I would find press releases that I never used—even though they might be well written, they might not be appropriate. But the good ones (and the bad ones) make an impression, and when I was assigned a story on a topic I hadn’t covered before, those well written press releases could get me calling the folks who sent them to get ideas and information. Naturally, they got mentioned in the story. Similarly, your theme, expressed in a series of well written press releases, establishes you as an obvious subject for a certain kind of story.
If you have established a presence as a community focused band, and you send a press release out about a CD that is songs about the community, local television or radio might suddenly feel the urge to have you on the air. Local papers can disregard the press release in favor of a feature article. My letters and press releases on my music have gotten me coverage and an featured appearance on TV Ontario (my 15 minutes of fame), and features in regional publications. One multimedia magazine turned a CD press release into a telephone interview carried on the internet, and then used a song from the CD as background music for a slide show of photographs that were being featured.
Finding places to send your story
There are two great sources of information on publications—the internet and the publication itself. The masthead of most publications lists the editor names, often the areas they cover (such as CD reviews) and how to contact them. Sometimes features tell you exactly what information they want to consider you. And you should read the publications to learn what areas they cover and how they cover it (the angle). Make sure you fit. The internet can provide much of the same stuff.
For instance, if you think your story is perfect for the ROLLING STONE, under contact information, the site tells us:
To reach the editors of Rolling Stone or RollingStone.com with a press release, story idea, correction or news tip, contact email@example.com. For all publicity queries, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
That took about two seconds to find out.
If local tv is your goal, a quick search on, say “Television stations Nebraska” produces a complete list at states guides/nebraska. There, it tells you that the local affiliate for ABC in Lincoln is KLKN-TV . If you have a gig booked there, you can get the event announced on the community calendar by sending your press release to: Channel 8 KLKN-TV Community Calendar, 3240 South Tenth Street, Lincoln, NE, 68502, or fax it to 402-436-2236.
The challenge is to build up a core database that consists of the various media that get the message to your fans. You want the editor names, contact information and the kinds of stories they handle. All are not the same. Then you cultivate these people. When they run a press release, even just a tiny blurb, a thank you email is in order. EVEN IF THEY GET THE INFORMATION WRONG! This is networking at its most important. Editors get promoted or move to other publications and jobs, so treat them all right, and with respect. Your news is not the most important thing in their world, so don’t soak up a lot of their time. The easier you make their job (such as with a well written release with all the pertinent facts) the more likely they are to use it. Your job is to get better at that as time goes on. Editors, like everyone else, prefer to work with the willing.
Media depend on information—they are not hostile to your efforts. That is why they publish contact information. Collect it, use it, learn from it, and build relationships that will bring you visibility in a time when the information noise level is reaching absurd heights. After all, if you don’t make people aware of your music, they can’t know how good it is.
Soft sell ending
These three parts of the PR story are not all inclusive. They are highlights of my own experience on both sides of the PR world. PR will not make you a success, but if you are successful, it can let the world know about it, and that will grow your success—take it to a higher level.
So think about your PR effort. What can you do to make your music, your band stand out in the way you want to be known? (If you think any PR is good, check out Tiger Woods current problems.)
Also, I am very close to this subject. If you have more questions on DIY PR, let me have them. If I can provide a quick answer, I will. If it deserves another blog entry, then I will do that. And, importantly, try to have fun with this. After all, it’s only life, and you won’t get out of it alive.
Written by Ed Teja for Insider Music Business