How to Get Taken Seriously Without a Publicist

Posted by Jhoni Jackson on Jan 19, 2015 09:00 AM
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white mysteryWhite Mystery is the epitome of a DIY band: Since day one they've handled all of their own publicity and booking. (Photo courtesy of Red Bull)

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:

When to start: lead time

Publicists 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:

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.

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.

Targeted pitching

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.


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. 

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Topics: ask a music journalist, press, Music Business 101, Marketing & Promotion


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