There's one important step you need to take before you start pitching yourself to the media. First you need to answer this all-important question:
What are you going to say to each media person when you email or call them?
Sorry, but "Hey, I want some free press for my band's new album" is not the right answer. You must put some thought into what comes out of your mouth or what emanates from your fingertips in an email.
I've covered this concept many times in the past, but it's so essential I want to stress it again: Stop talking so much about yourself in "I-Me-My" terms. Most band bios, cover letters, and email messages are littered with "I am ... We want ... I think this ... We did that ... I, I, I ..."
Perhaps you're not clear about why this is important. You may be asking, "How else am I supposed to tell media people about me and my music?"
The answer: By focusing on what's in it for the media person! The problem with all of this "me"-centered marketing is that it is usually void of the most important marketing word of all: "You."
Let's face it. Most people are motivated by some level of self-interest; they naturally focus on themselves. It's probably an ancient human survival instinct left over from the caveman era. And that's fine. It's not a crime to put a priority on your goals and aspirations. But when you communicate with others, it's important to resist the urge to focus on yourself.
To get what you want, you must cater to other people's goals and aspirations. You have to figure out how your needs can be met by helping others meet their own desires.
From now on, keep in mind that what motivates media people (and all people, for that matter) is what they get out of various relationships. Whenever you communicate with someone -- whether on the Internet, in person, on the phone, or in writing -- he or she is either consciously or unconsciously asking, "So what's in this for me, bub?"
Your job is to answer that unspoken question and deliver something of value. So before you make a connection with media people, determine what your benefit-oriented angle is. Why would your story and music be of interest to the readers, listeners, or viewers of this blog, show or publication?
Can you find an interesting angle beyond "we have a new album out"? Thousands of new albums come out every week. You have every right to be excited about yours, but the simple fact that you just released one is not "news." So dig deeper for an interesting hook that ties into a current event or something the publication has covered before. Is there anything unusual about your project, a band member, or a theme that runs throughout your music?
Also, the PR angle you use with one publication can be different from the angle you use with another. It's important to find the overlap between the theme of the media source and some aspect of you and your music.
Bottom line: When you blindly start asking for coverage without a plan, you'll fail more often than not. But, when you know your publicity angle before you contact media people, and when you keep THEIR NEEDS foremost in mind, your odds of success are greatly enhanced.
(This post is adapted from Chapter 12 of the Guerrilla Music Marketing Handbook, as well as Module 3 of the Guerrilla Music Marketing Master Class series, which starts April 15.)
Bob Baker is the author of three books in the “Guerrilla Music Marketing” series, along with many other books and promotion resources for DIY artists, managers and music biz pros. You’ll find Bob’s free ezine, blog, podcast, video clips and articles at www.TheBuzzFactor.com and www.MusicPromotionBlog.com.