Published Jun 24, 2009If I had a nickel for every time I heard an artist gripe about not getting the cover/story/review they richly deserve, well, I could buy us both a venti half decaf no-whip mochachino. Let's improve your chances of getting coverage by starting with how NOT to get press:
1 Do not spend a fortune on shiny, design-y press kits. Not only will these quickly end up clogging the landfill, but they could make you look ridiculous. The slick press kit is the publicity equivalent of stuffing a banana down your pant leg. Seriously: having an overblown package is not going to suddenly spark the overwhelming urge to get you between the covers.
2 Do not spam. If no one at the magazine/blog/newspaper knows you, being repeatedly poked in the eye with your annoying emails, letters, faxes and phone calls is not going to make them want to. Also, don't encourage your mother/brother/drunk ass best friend to call and complain - although that does make a great story. In the paper's lunchroom.
3 Do not fall for some hipster marketing/PR company's promise to get you coverage by including you in its much vaunted and expensive "email blast." That is just a fancy way of saying spam. See above.
4 Do not send publicity photos in which your face is obscured. People want to look at other people's faces and editors want to use photos people want to look at. Do not smoke in your press photos, or molest puppies, or waggle your joystick. It may be "cool" but so is the bottom of a dumpster.
5 Do not be impossible. If, in the early days of your career, someone wants to give you coverage, don't be a prima donna about it: try to cooperate. Show up! Talk! Be charismatic! Later when you are a star you can be the biggest prick on the block if you so desire.
And how about a couple of do's:
1 Do work hard at your craft. Practise. Write. Jam. Play as often as you can. When you get really good, people will come to see you. If people are coming to see you, the press will follow. If you build it, they will write.
2 Do make sure your press release has a story. Unless you are reporting that you have actually kicked someone's ass and are perhaps facing assault charges, "Band Kicks Ass" is not a story. But "launches tour," "releases new CD," "wins award" and even "hits the studio" at least gives a writer some focus.
3 Do put quotes from band members in the press release. Providing something interesting, funny, or cuttingly relevant makes it easy for a lazy writer to essentially rewrite your release in the form of a story with quotes and all. And let's face it, we writers are lazy and can barely be bothered to finish a sen
4 Do get the best photos you can afford, and always offer a selection. A simple change clothes (or locale) can suddenly create a whole new set of photos. Editors love a great photo; it takes the pressure off the pesky "words" part of the story.
5 Do make friends with the freelancers you meet. If they are fans, nurture that by any beers necessary. Your local stringer can be your best ally: it's their job to pitch stories, so why not be a great source of stories to pitch. But do not lurk or stalk, please.