A solid digital PR campaign should be an integral part of any musician's overall marketing strategy, but rushing headlong into one without first making sure you have the following five assets at your disposal is a recipe for failure.
Guest Post by Ariel Hyatt on Cyber PR Music
As an independent musician, a digital PR campaign can be a critical component to an overall marketing strategy that will help you to:
1. Reach new fans
2. Increase online influence
3. Create new content that can be used to continue to build strength of existing fan base through social media
4. Better understand marketplace position
While all four of these goals are essential for you to have, and there is no doubt an effective PR campaign can help you achieve them, many artists jump into full-fledge PR campaigns a bit too early.
In order for PR to be truly successful and achieve everything you want it to, you must have the 5 following assets at the ready:
1. Music For Release
Okay, let’s just get this out of the way. There is no need for a PR campaign, no matter what direction or niche you’re going to target during it. If you don’t have music available for the media to listen to, you’re wasting your time, the media’s time, and your money.
The ideal scenario is that you have at least an upcoming EP (containing at least 4 songs) that is set for release around 1 to 1.5 months from the date you start outreach. For the most part, bloggers don’t like to mention an upcoming release if there is any more than 1 month of lead-time between their feature and the release. And they’ll be less enthused about your single if there is no upcoming EP slated for release within the next three to six weeks.
And let’s not forget to think about the readers! With the web being the way it is, music blog goers are confronted with interesting info 24/7. Therefore, it’s really not in your best interest as an indie artist to space singles and EPs light years apart from each other. Keep the rollout tight and the momentum up.
That said, it IS certainly possible to do a PR campaign for music that has been released previously. Try to keep it conservative though, like six months, a year, but beyond that, you might be pushing it. When releasing previously released music, just know that there will be journalists who will pass just on the fact that the music hasn’t been released within the last three months.
Bonus Note: Your songs MUST be professionally recorded. Live tracks are fine if you are promoting a live release, but even then the mix needs to be of professional quality.
2. A Professional, Compelling, Telling Bio
A professionally written bio that weaves a compelling story about who you are and what makes you unique is not something to overlook and leave to your Twitter stream. A great bio (we call it a signature story around here) is an essential asset to an effective PR campaign.
Your bio should serve as a one-stop shop for bloggers to get the facts on you, your project, where you’ve been, and where you’re going. And, even though your music will speak for itself, you’re going to want to talk about yourself and your music in a way that will entice people to click that play button.
Unfortunately, one paragraph saying that you are a musician from so-and-so making rock music that will blow everyone’s mind is not going to make anyone want to click that button. What will make people listen, is a bio that communicates your story and pays acute attention to detail and nuance.
Pro Tip: There are bloggers out there who will repurpose your bio in order to create enough content for their blog. These are few and far between, but you will run across them! This is, however, good news for you if you have a strong bio! The fact that many bloggers will re-purpose the bio means that you now have the opportunity to control the messaging of their features, telling their readers the important points about you that may stick out to fans as unique and intriguing.
A professional bio can run you a few hundred dollars, but it’s reusable and will come in handy long after your campaign has ended.
3. Professional Promo Photos
Do you know what gets people to click on your write up? The photo. It might be kinda sad, but it’s true. If you have any doubts, just think of your own knee-jerk reaction when checking out artists without a household name. Because of this natural human instinct to care about imagery, you’ll want to pay close attention to the messaging in your photos. What do you want the takeaway to be for people who glance?
You can’t get away from needing great photos. All bloggers (and even some podcasters) will want a photo to go along with their feature. Many new media makers have a quality standard to uphold and poor photos of you and/ or your band could actually be a deal breaker.
On the other hand, unique, creative and well thought out promo photos can be the ice breaker needed to get bloggers to check out your music.
Here are a few great promo photos of a few Cyber PR® clients that absolutely helped them to have great campaigns:
4. A Niche to Conquer / Some Serious Consideration of Genre
Identifying a specific niche to target and/or pinpointing your genre is a critical component to any successful digital PR campaign.
Let’s talk about niches first.
It is important to note that your niche does not, in any way, need to reflect your genre of music. Anything that you are passionate about, anything that has inflicted you as a person (such as a disease or social plight) or any part of your upbringing that has helped to define who you are as a person and a musician can be a great niche.
The idea here is that on music blogs, you are just another musician being covered, however on, say a positivity blog or an anime blog, you are the one, or one of very few musicians being covered making your story and your music far more unique which can help it to resonate with the reader-base.
Okay so genre.
The media is getting to a point where it hears singer-songwriter and their eyes glaze over. You probably are a singer-songwriter, and that simple categorization is important at times, but it may not work for everyone.
It’s important to think of the publications you want to be in, read them, and see how they describe/talk about music. If they label everyone as singer-songwriter, you’re good to go! If they are approaching things from a more intricate perspective, you might want to think of yourself in those terms as well. You don’t have to be a music journalist yourself. You just have to be conscious.
There are many more genres (and subgenres) than just rock, pop, country, jazz, EDM. Do some poking around!
5. A Social Media Presence
Too many musicians underestimate the importance of a social media presence to a digital PR campaign. While it’s all important- the music, the bio, and the promo photos- there are two reasons why it is so important that you also have a strong social media presence:
1. With so many musicians and publicists inundating the inboxes of bloggers and journalists, it is inevitable that they will check out the social media presence of each submission as a filter for who to, and who not to, consider for coverage.
This certainly doesn’t mean that you need to have a HUGE social media presence with hundreds of thousands of fans, but it does mean that you need to be consistently posting content to your socials that communicates “you”, and you need to be engaging with your fans (and the media too!).
Ultimately, apart from being introduced to totally awesome music, bloggers are interested in driving traffic to their sites. A blogger wants to know that if he or she is going to take the time to cover your music, you will be able to return the support by sharing the feature with your fans, helping the blogs to build their followings as well.
2. In order for PR to truly be effective, each feature needs to be properly leveraged through social media to mobilize the existing fan base.
In other words, each feature is new content that you can use to engage your fans without having to say ‘listen to my music’… this form of sharing your successes is a much more subtle form of self-promotion than the much dreaded shameless self-promo that all too many musicians practice (and no one likes).
Again, having hundreds of thousands of fans isn’t the point here, but rather you need to have a consistent content strategy that covers all 6 rooms of your social media house, which includes (but isn’t limited to) Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Instagram, Blog, Newsletter. Here is a quick outline of how often you need to post to each platform in order to remain ‘consistent’:
1 Post Per Day
2 – 3 Tweets Per Day
At least 1 new post every other week
1 newsletter per month
At least 1 new video per month (note this doesn’t need to be a professional music video)
Posting at least 5 times a week.
Just to recap for successful PR outreach you will need music that’s ready to go, a professional, compelling bio, great promo photos, a niche to conquer, and a social media presence. If you don’t have these five things, get to it!