Why You Should Stop Sending So Many Press Releases To The Music Press
by Lueda Alia
Last night, I came across an article titled “I Read and Replied to Every Single PR Email I Received for a Week” by Zach Schonfeld, which describes my daily, exhausting experience with my inbox(es) all too well.
Many years ago, reading press releases was the best way to keep updated with what was happening in the music world. Press releases were a godsend at a time when information on the web was limited, bands didn’t keep in touch with fans regularly, and more importantly, there were far fewer PR agencies around. But that time has long since passed. Most writers get ambushed by press releases nowadays, most of which are mismatched.
I realize that it’s impossible to keep up with every publication, zine or blog out there — hell, even as a reader myself, I can only keep up with maybe 3 or 4 on a daily basis — but that does not excuse making horribly misguided pitches to writers who do not care about specific artists, genres, or what have you. I couldn’t count the number of times I have received emails for hardcore or metal music — two genres I’ve never once covered in my entire career as an editor — by publicists who tell me, “I think you’ll really dig this band, Lueda!” No, I guarantee you that I won’t, and now you have wasted 2-3 minutes of my day that I could have spent reading something else in my inbox that actually interests me.
The worst part? Publicists who take the time to make pitches to the right writer get burned because someone less committed and far lazier has already wasted my time. I will go ahead and assume that I am not the only writer who can attest to this.
One of the first things I learned when I started doing PR was, “Do not send press releases to busy writers.” Who is a busy writer, though? Well, within the past year that I have been doing this, I decided that that essentially applies to every writer I know (or have an email address for, rather) because I realized that the overwhelming task of combing through a full inbox was not unique to me. It’s been a few months since I sent out my last press release, and I have since developed a different approach that involves:
2) Appropriate target lists for each client
3) Personal emails
My approach is certainly more time consuming, but the results speak for themselves. I decided to apply my new strategy to the Arms and Sleeperscampaign, and what we have accomplished so far has blown us away: the single I blogged about last time, “Swim Team,” is now at over 52k plays on Soundcloudin just two weeks, and over 33k on a separate YouTube channel. Instead of sending press releases to 300+ writers via MailChimp, I decided to keep my target list under 100 and email everyone personally, often explaining why I decided to email them about this specific single/band/music. I have no doubt the email was ignored by many, but the number of responses I received was significantly higher than I’d ever received while using MailChimp, making the time spent getting organized beforehand and during the outreach pay off.
I won’t be doing things differently any time soon. What many people don’t seem to realize (or care about?) is that many writers do this “writing gig” on the side, and, often, for free — meaning, they simply do not have enough time in a day to read emails, let alone respond. When it’s overwhelming (if not impossible) for someone who gets paid to check their email to keep up, then perhaps it’s time to reconsider how media is approached, and how pitches are put together.
Is this strategy sustainable over the long-term? Only time will tell, but I refuse to send out press releases to a massive number of writers at once anymore. It’s a waste of their time — and mine.
5 Tips To Not Have an Awkward 1st Google Hangout Q&A
By Richard J Nardo, 24west Partner
I had the opportunity to run my first Google Hangout promotion with a client this past Tuesday. The client was one of the most buzzed about up-and-coming indie rock bands around, and their fanbase skews a little young (primarily 16-25 year-old demographic) and on the trendier side. As a result, they were the perfect candidate for this sort of initiative and the results were even better than we had hoped for. However, we did have to get past a few early bumps in the road before we settled into a successful fan conversation.
Here are 5 quick tips to avoid those awkward first few minutes when running your first Google Hangout Q&A:
There’s a Delay! – The thing that really threw us off was the 20-second delay. When you’re the one on video, not only will there will be a 20-second delay between what you say and when the people in the hangout will see it, but you’ll also see the questions coming in delayed. Don’t panic! The questions ARE coming in. Keep that in mind in order to avoid spending the first minute or two trying to figure out why no one is asking questions. In order to combat that, make sure the person on camera has a quick introduction prepared to get everything kicked off (“Welcome to the <name> Q&A! So excited to be here etc.). That way by the time you’re ready to jump into the questions you’ll have a few already waiting for you in the queue.
Do a Test Run – I personally did a run through prior to this Google Hangout to make sure I fully understood it and walked the client through setting everything up as well. However, we didn’t have the client run a ‘walk through’ prior to the room. As a result, they were kind of still figuring things out in terms of whether or not everything was working for the first few minutes of the discussion.
Get There Early! – Keep in mind that fans have probably been looking forward to this event all day, maybe even for a few days, and will probably be there right at the scheduled time for it to start. On Tuesday night, the room was already full when the band signed on (they were four minutes late). If you know how to run the room, this probably isn’t the end of the world. However, when its your first time and you are going to have to spend a couple of minutes getting acclimated its probably better to sign on a few minutes early. This way your fans aren’t waiting for you to arrive AND THEN waiting again for you to figure everything out as well.
Make the Room a Forum (Take Questions via Comment) – The best way to take questions is through comments on the live Youtube video. You could also take questions via Twitter or email, but having them come through the comment section turns the room into an open forum as fans are able to communicate with each other as well, which is more fun. On Tuesday night, two of the room’s participants actually realized they lived in the same town and went to the same college. They added each other on Facebook and were making plans to hang out at the band’s show in their town in October.
Have a Copilot & A Ringer in the Audience – During the interview, I was conversing with the band’s manager (who was in the room with the band) for the entire 40-minute session. Having a production team of sorts available helped the Hangout run smoothly and on-time (especially considering the band was sprinkling in acoustic versions of their songs so we had to keep that in mind). We also placed a ringer in the hangout (in our case the owner of the blog we partnered with for the promotion). This way if the conversation got a little off course or there was a lull in questions, he was able to jump in and ask some questions to right the ship.
Most important though is this bonus tip I’m going to share with you now…
SET THE TONE FOR THE ROOM - HAVE FUN WITH THE HANGOUT! In all honesty, the thing that made Tuesday night so successful was the fact the band was having so much for with it. That led to the fans enjoying it even more and consequently falling that much more in love with the band. Set a fun, upbeat tone and those that cared enough to sign up to take part will more than do their part to make it a great experience for everyone involved!