A DIY guide to public relations: how to be your own publicist (part 1)
by Zilka Grogan
You have a new album coming out and you want the world to know about it. How do you spread the word? Unless you’re rolling in cash and are able to afford a professional PR agency, chances are you’ll be flying solo. This guide will teach you the basics of PR for the music industry so that your next album or tour gets the coverage it deserves.
What is PR and how can it help you?
Public relations is essentially the practice of strategic communications: it’s about building relationships with journalists by offering them content that will interest their audience. For artists, it’s one of the best ways to get your name out there – the ultimate goal being to have journalists write about you and promote your work. Whether you’re an up-and-coming artist or a more established name, PR can be extremely valuable. For emerging talents, it offers the opportunity to start building your profile and getting your music heard. For the more established, PR can help you build and shape the public image of yourself as an artist.
So where do you even start?
Depending on the type of story you are pitching, there are a few different ways to get started. Traditional PR work starts with writing a press release. This is a formal document, about one page in length, that announces a piece of news to the press. In the music industry, the most common types of press releases are album launch releases (designed to generate interest among reviewers) and tour releases (which announce the dates of your upcoming tour and invite journalists along). A press release is generally written in a similar style to what you read in the news. It has a top-heavy structure just like a news story – meaning all the important facts go at the top, with a catchy headline and introduction designed to grab the journalists attention.
There are plenty of press release templates available online, you can find some music industry examples here and here.
Find the right journalists, start pitching
Once you have the press release ready to go, you can start building a media list with the contact details of reviewers, writers and bloggers who are interested in the genre or field you operate in. This is the list of people who you will email your press release to, along with a short note explaining why it is interesting to them. The most important thing here is to do your homework. Don’t just create one massive list of hundreds of music journalists and send it to each. Seek out the journalists who are passionate about your style of music and write an individual pitch. Most bigger publications have journalists covering different topic areas, or rounds. The last thing you want to do is send news about your new techno album to a rock reviewer, for example, because this just shows how little time you have taken to do your research. Instead, read their articles. Get to know their writing style and what areas they cover. Follow them on Twitter and use it to find out what interests them. Your ultimate goal should be to build a lasting relationship with the journalist – the best way to do this is by showing you have read and respect their work. Hopefully they will show you the same respect in return.
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