Music journalists' email inboxes receive oodles of announcements, invitations to concerts and offers for exclusives on new songs and albums every day. We open them all, but we can't, in good conscience, tell you that we read entirely through all of them. And there's a reason for that: A lot of folks don't know how to write effective press releases.
We want to help, for all of our sakes. You want to promote yourself, your venue, an artist or events, and we want to stay informed and write about those things. And while we aren't faulting anyone, we're tired of slogging through paragraph after paragraph before seeing any substantial information (if we make it that far).
Take a look at some of what we consider to be best practices when composing pressers. While we consider ourselves pretty good sources on the matter, we know not all of you have taken journalism, marketing or public relation courses, so we're also including actual journalism textbook information. So grab a seat, sharpen your pencil and jot down this information before sending out another unilluminating or long-winded email.
Don't Bury the Lead
Those paragraphs and paragraphs we mentioned earlier? Those don't need to exist. Say what needs to be said at the top of your pitch, and include what we call the "Five Ws" — who, what, when, where and why. Making your presser the easiest (and most informative) one we read today will only increase your chances of publicity.
Pitch to the Proper Outlets (and Editors and Writers)
There are several types of news media including daily newspapers, weeklies, monthly and quarterly magazines, blogs, broadcast, podcasts and so on. Some publications stick to hard news, while others, like the Dallas Observer, cover a variety of music-centric stories. Make sure your pitch finds its way to the proper outlet. Once you find a publication that fits, find the proper editor to email. A quick search on our website will guide you to each editor, as well as writers who have reported on the same band, songwriter or similar topics in the past.
Create a Human Interest Story
Here's a secret: we really don't care how many Spotify streams someone has, or the technicalities involved in making an album, or how many followers a band has on social media. Don't try to sell us something based on data. We want to know the human(s) behind the music. Think like a journalist and sum up the information in one interesting headline (subject line), otherwise we won't see story potential. In the copy of your email, give us a few interesting factoids; we'll be much more likely to click that press release link.
Spell All Proper Nouns Correctly
This seems like a no-brainer, but you'd be surprised. Also, spell our names correctly, and, please, delete the [Name Here] dummy text from your template before you hit send (yes, it's happened). Nothing makes a greeting feel less personal or less worth our time than knowing the sender didn't take the time to know or type in our name.
Localize Your Pitch When Possible
Anytime a writer or editor can localize a story, we want to. Big-time artists playing arenas are interesting, but did they once take college classes at the University of North Texas? Do they have a favorite Oak Cliff restaurant they visit any time they come to town? What about a newsworthy moment that happened the last time they were here? Let us know.
Include Media and Best Points of Contact
Anytime we run a story, we include a photo. Including one in your message, with credit and consent to use, makes things run a lot smoother and encourages us to use a photo you like. Including the best points of contact for interviews and more information are also necessary for writers.
Know How to Write Well
Take some time to learn how to write like a journalist (brevity and clarity are key). Learn proper sentence structure and punctuation. Several websites can help turn your words and sentences into better ones, like Grammarly.
Give Ample Time
Most journalists work days or weeks ahead of time. Be sure to send out your pressers well in advance if you want any chance of coverage. One follow-up email is appropriate if some time passes without a response.
Understand That We May Not Write About It
If we wrote about everything sent to us, our fingers would bleed, and we'd never leave the office. It's important to understand that not every single event you promote will see publicity. If you've sent one follow-up email and still haven't heard back, don't spam our inboxes. Do us a favor and move on to the next pitch.