Ideal scenario: every band can hire a perfect-match PR firm for surefire marketing greatness. Likely reality? As a startup, independent band, you can't afford one. Compounding the problem, however, is that you don't have that much time to do your own promotion. Between your full-time job, rehearsing, and gigs, your time's nearly exhausted. It's critical, then, that your efforts serving as your own publicist are efficient and effective.
We've relayed lots of lessons on the Sonicbids blog about various aspects of publicity, such as best practices for pitching, crafting a killer bio, and press kit essentials. For first timers, though, it's incredibly important that you hit every mark. Journalists sometimes regard inquiries from unfamiliar names dubiously, mentally knocking off credibility points for parts that are missing or poorly executed.
Follow this comprehensive checklist full of fresh tips and existing Sonicbids resources to ensure you're taken seriously. Unfortunately, journalists don't always respond for various reasons. But if you stick with this guide, you'll at least know your pitch wasn't the problem!
The importance of publicity
Believing in the power of publicity (and understanding its limits) is the root of shaping a stellar campaign. Read up on:
- The process of getting press, with its value explained and myths debunked
- Rundown of a publicist's day-to-day with insider tips
- Strategies of top PR firms
- Basics of DIY public relations
When to start: lead timePublicists begin campaigns for releases three to four months ahead of the actual release date. That's because journalists need time to send their own pitches, and outlets map out content weeks or months in advance depending on their frequency of publication. Don't let a last-minute inquiry be the cause of rejection. Plan accordingly and you'll better your chances of consideration.
The benefits of an elevator pitch
An elevator pitch is something like a mission statement: a concise but descriptive (and often clever) way to relate your band's sound and image. Read more about elevator pitches and how they can make the rest of your publicity work easier here.
If you find yourself stumped when trying to craft that message, refer to this post about describing your sound to others.
The complete EPK resource
The bedrock of looking legit is a proper press kit. Sonicbids' Electronic Press Kit platform is easy to use and an industry standard. You can find further aid in your quest for flawlessness in these posts:
- All the necessary components of an EPK
- Mistakes to avoid in your biography
- How to tell a compelling story in your bio
- How to make your EPK stand out from the crowd
Social media presence
Included in your press kit should be links to your accounts, and any journalist checking out your band is going to visit at least one of them. A heavily followed and well-curated Facebook fan page could be what either piques or loses interest.
- Social media etiquette
- Additional dos and don'ts
- Key elements of a comprehensive social media strategy
- Content type breakdown using the 70-20-10 rule
- What your posts say about your band
- Creating hype
- Social media contests in depth
- Creative contest examples
- Tips for building your brand on Twitter
- Staying relevant in the eyes of your fans on Facebook
- Help with videos (e.g. tour or recording diaries) for sharing on social media
The press release
Your EPK serves as a neatly packaged introduction to your band, but it can't stand alone – it's not the actual pitch itself. It's in the press release that you attempt to convince a writer to learn more about your music and that you're worthy of coverage.
Reaching out to the right writers is paramount. You wouldn't send your hip-hop EP to an alt-country blog staffer, would you? Let's hope not. Blindly pitching is, in most cases, a complete waste of both your and the writer's time. Compile a list of publications and online outlets that you think are appropriate for your sound, then find the contact information for writers and editors. Consider tailoring your pitch to each; what works for some publications doesn't work for others, so you'll want to sell yourself in a way that makes sense for their style.
- Why who and how you pitch matters
- Making a killer press list
- Pitching tips for different mediums (blog, magazine, alt-weekly, etc.)
Jhoni Jackson is an Atlanta-bred music journalist currently based in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where she juggles owning a venue called Club 77, freelance writing and, of course, going to the beach as often as possible.