Ask a Publicist: What to Do When That Music Journalist Goes AWOL

Posted by Janelle Rogers on May 10, 2017 06:00 AM
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One of the biggest frustrations of a publicist is not receiving responses to pitches we send. We sort of anticipate it when the pitch is a cold call or we haven’t yet built a relationship with a writer, but the real head scratchers are when a journalist raises his or her hand high with interest and then seemingly disappears despite repeated follow ups from us.

On a recent Facebook post, a journalist summed this up in one sentence. “If you’re not hearing back from me, it’s because I’m trying to think of a way to tell you 'yes'  and failing."

You may be thinking that if a journalist likes your music, he or she should just write about it. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. Here are three reasons why an interested journalist may have gone AWOL.

1. He or she is still considering your pitch and/or music

To prevent this all-too-common situation, keep your pitches short. When you send a long, drawn-out pitch, it takes more time to digest and, well, more time to read. Think about it. Has someone ever sent you an email so long you put it aside for when you had more time to get to it? Yet, the time never seemed to appear, and it simply was lost in the black hole.

Now imagine a blogger who receives dozens of emails like these in a day, all with a demand for his or her time. Cut your pitch in half, make the writer's life easier, and improve your chances of coverage.

2. He or she liked your music, but couldn’t justify coverage

Legitimate blogs and media outlets are dependent on readers. The writer may love your music but knows he or she can’t justify covering it at that particular outlet. It’s up to you to give reasons why he or she should cover you beyond your music.

This also plays into the first point of taking time to consider. If he or she receives your email and likes the music, but the email doesn’t state why he or she should cover, clearly there’s a good chance coverage will never see the light of day.

What are your selling points, and what would drive readers to the article to read about you? Invest the same amount of time in the outlet and writer’s articles as you expect him or her to invest in you. Get to know the important points that would make the writer cover you no matter what.

3. He or she is facing an editor's demands

Time simply may not be on the writer’s side. He or she has a ton of articles due by a deadline that take priority, and it's possible that he or she simply couldn’t find the time to fit you in. Nine times out of 10, a writer has to prioritize the demands of an editor over a passion project. This is why it’s so important to make it as easy as possible for the writer to cover you.

Streamline your email, include important information that would allow him or her to justify coverage to an editor, and include all the necessary links to stream or download audio, hi-res publicity photos, bio, and social media.


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Janelle Rogers began her 20-year music industry career working for SXSW Music and Media Conference. She then went on to work for BMG Distribution for 10 years in the alternative music department where she championed bands like Kings of Leon, Ray LaMontagne, The Strokes, Belle & Sebastian, and The White Stripes. In 2002 she launched Green Light Go Music PR as a haven of honesty, integrity, and passion for underrepresented artists and labels. She has since been named Mentor of the Year by the University of Michigan, Dearborn, appeared as a panelist at NXNE, and been an official SXSW mentor.

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Topics: ask a publicist, Music Business 101, Marketing & Promotion


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