Here’s the scenario: You’ve meticulously crafted the perfect press email and sent it out to various journalists, but you’ve gotten zero replies. Now what? Before you send a follow-up, review this list of possible explanations as to why you haven’t scored a story. If you can self-diagnose before trying again, your second attempt will be all the more worthwhile.
1. What did your email look like?
Did you make the most of your subject line? Was it descriptive, but not totally hey-look-at-me in all capital letters and such? The subject is the first thing a writer sees, so a detailed but quick-hitting chunk of info is what you should shoot for.
The body of your email should include a bio, links to music (via SoundCloud or Bandcamp or another easily accessible mode of listening) and a nice press image. If you’re missing one of those components, a journalist might be too busy with other work to go the extra research mile.
2. You’re not there... yet
If you’re a brand new group and you’ve reached out to someone at AV Club, you might be jumping the gun. Start with local papers before going for the big outlets. Before trying national press, try an alt-weekly based in your city or wherever you might be playing. Find smaller, independently run blogs. Sometimes it’s best to cultivate a following before going for the major players, and getting press from anywhere can help.
And, of course, once you’ve snagged those snippets, you’ll have them to bolster your emails to all those publications with greater readership.
3. Timing and timeliness
Do you have an album, EP, or 7-inch on the way? If not, writers might find your band’s story untimely. There’s a rule in journalism about timeliness: There has to be a reason behind every story. If you’re simply announcing your group’s existence, press is much harder to get. Try to time your press emails with a release, be it an LP or a new video or a string of tour dates.
4. Your email simply hasn’t been seen
Did you send your query to the right person? Follow this guide for help targeting the right writers. Not every journalist will jump at your subject line — if they’re not into hip-hop whatsoever, for example, they might skip you over. Be sure you’re sending to the right journalist and not just cold emailing all over the place.
If you did aim appropriately and followed the above steps, there’s a chance your message has gotten lost in an avalanche of emails. Music journalists sometimes receive 30-40 inquiries from bands and publicists per day. You can hit them back if you’re positive you’ve gotten it right — but be sure to double-check this list beforehand to be sure.
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.