Doing your own PR is hard, there’s no way around that. But when your budget is tight or you just want the experience (which I highly recommend to all artists when they first start out), knowing how to put together a strong PR campaign is a must. While there’s a lot to learn through trial and error, we wanted to offer you a bit of a cheat sheet when it comes to contacting blogs and pitching your music to the masses.
Check out four tips for submitting to blogs — straight from the mouths of bloggers — below.
1. Your pitch has to be personal
One of the best things you can do in a pitch is to let the writer know that you’re familiar with their work and you’re paying attention. Even the smallest blogs get inundated with hundreds of emails per week, so making yours stand out should be part of the plan.
There are a few ways to do this. Start in the subject line by making it captivating; put the writer’s name in there, or include who your band sounds like with a quick FFO (for fans of) or RIYL (recommended if you like). Or think of something even catchier and hyper specific to whatever you’re promoting, like, “NYC punk band X launches non-profit to benefit refugees.”
Then, once you’re actually inside the email, the personalization should continue by first addressing the writer you’re pitching by name then including something personal, like why you liked a certain article they wrote and your thoughts on it. This shows them you’ve taken the time to invest in them and what they care about — which is only fair since that’s exactly what you’re asking of them.
2. Bloggers will never search for what you didn't send
It’s always so discouraging when you open an email from a band asking for a feature only to find out that you either have no idea what they want (do they want an album review? News post? What are they even promoting right now?) but you don’t have access to their EPK with things like a bio and hi-res photos for an article, or their social media.
If a writer has to search for the materials they need to feature you, it probably isn’t going to happen. Make it easy on them, and include a link to your EPK with at least three hi-res press photos and bio, and links to your social media.
3. Social media engagement is everything
Speaking of social media, it really does matter, and blogs really do look at it before deciding if they’re going to feature you. For the most par,t you’ll want to keep in mind that this is, in many ways, is a business.
If a blog is thinking about featuring you, they’re almost certainly going to head to your social media to see what your fan engagement and interaction is like. If it’s a dead zone, they’re probably going to think twice about that feature, because they know that even if you do share it (and you should always share it and tag the outlet), it’s going into a black hole.
But if they see that you have an active, engaged audience that's liking and commenting and sharing, even if your overall follower count is relatively low, that engagement goes a long way. All the more reason to find fun, creative ways to connect with fans over social media.
4. Don't take a lack of response personally
Finally, as an artist, it can feel exhausting, if not discouraging, to get no response back from a pitch you’ve really worked hard on and put your heart into. But, at the end of the day, try not to take things personally, and don't view every lack of response as a personal slight.
I’ve been a blog owner and writer in the music industry for 10 years, and I can tell you that even at my relatively small blog, my team and myself were constantly overwhelmed with the amount of pitches we got. While the ones that followed the criteria above always stood out and got preferential treatment, sometimes it still wasn’t possible to respond to everyone, or to even see every email and follow up. It didn’t mean we hated the music; sometimes it meant it just wasn’t a fit or we hadn’t seen the email.
Remember, most writers aren’t paid for their time, so they’re sorting through emails and writing about music they love in their (very) spare time. It isn’t realistic for them to reply to every single email or feature every artist, even if they like their music. Sometimes, it’s just not the right time and you have to try another blog or hire a publicist who already has those connections or just put together a different plan for next time.
But trust me on this — a lack of response from a blog, probably doesn’t mean you suck. It just means there’s not enough time in the day.
Angela Mastrogiacomo is the founder and CEO of Muddy Paw PR, where her artists have seen placement on Alternative Press, Noisey, Substream, and more. She’s also the owner of music blog Infectious Magazine. She loves baked goods, a good book, and hanging with her dog Sawyer.