If you don't have a publicist and you're planning on contacting the press on your own behalf as an artist/musician/band, there are some basic – and some might say obvious – rules to follow. There's a code of etiquette. These five unspoken rules should help you navigate the waters of reaching out to the media.
1. Say please and thank you
This should be a no-brainer that goes without saying. But tact and simple manners are lost arts, especially in the digital age, when everything is impersonal. Therefore, please make sure that anytime you reach out to the press or a member of a media – whether it's to ask for a review, seek out an opinion of music you've sent, or to request any sort of coverage – be sure it starts with a "please" and ends with a "thank you." Basic courtesy goes a long, long way. It can also be what sways the pendulum from a yes to a no.
2. Check your attitude
Don't go into an email exchange with the media, be it a blogger or a high-ranking editor, with any sort of attitude. Don't approach the correspondence with the notion that anyone owes you anything, especially a favor. Yes, it's the music media's job to cover music. But is it their job to cover your music? Ah, therein lies a critical difference.
No, they don't have to cover your music. That's where the spin and the pitch come in, and the appeal for the journalist can happen in the education process and/or the follow-ups.
3. Don't overdo it (aka "no punishers allowed")
Here's a scenario: you send an email at 10:00 a.m. and then follow up with another email an hour later, and then follow that up with a phone call before the end of the day about whether or not the email was received, read, and what coverage is planned. That's called being a punisher. That's not charming or endearing.
Instead, do this: send the email. Let the email live in the inbox. Give the editor some time to read and process it. Don't expect an immediate response. Wait a week (unless it's time-sensitive, like a show invite), and then follow up.
4. Don't start an email with a "hey"
You're not BFFs with the media, so don't address them like you are. Use polite language and vocabulary. Make sure you spell check and give your email a read through for grammatical correctness, punctuation, and that your point is clear. Starting an email with "hey" is unprofessional. This isn't a Tinder hookup. It's the media.
5. Don't send emails with huge file attachments
Nothing crashes an inbox or annoys an editor like an email with an 18 MB photo attached. That may lead to instant deletion. Instead, provide a Dropbox or WeTransfer link. Or link to a page where there's an easily downloadable photo. Huge attachments aren't professional. Keep the correspondence streamlined.
These may seem like "obvious" instructions, but you'd be surprised at how many people don't follow these basic tenets. Get in the habit of doing so now.
For more tips on contacting press, check out our "Ask a Publicist" column for tons of tips and sage advice!
Amy Sciarretto has 20 years of print and online bylines, from Kerrang to Spin.com to Revolver to Bustle, covering music, beauty, and fashion. After 12 years doing radio and publicity at Roadrunner Records, she now fronts Atom Splitter PR, her own boutique PR firm, which has over 30 clients. She also is active in animal charity and rescue.