When it comes to emailing press releases, acting as your own PR team makes an already challenging task even harder, and if you're hoping for industry gatekeepers to even give you the time of day, there are five essential things you absolutely need to be sure to include.
Guest post by Hugh McIntyre of the Symphonic Blog
One of the hardest things when it comes to sending emails to the press is simply getting them to open the messages. Then, even if you do get some bloggers to click on your release, ensuring they read through what you’ve written is another struggle, and I won’t even get into following up and trying to persuade them further, as that’s an entirely separate piece.
If you’re going to do this type of outreach on your own, which many up-and-coming musicians end up doing when they don’t have the budget to hire a proper PR team, there are some items you must include in your press releases. If you don’t, your chances of getting the type of coverage you want (or any coverage at all, for that matter) aren’t very good.
Reaching out to the media on your own is a big task, but not impossible…though you’ll want to make sure you do it right!
Here’s a look at five things that need to be present in the upper half of your press release.
An Eye-Catching Subject Line
This doesn’t necessarily need to be the first thing you think about when crafting your press release…and in fact, sometimes it’s better to figure out everything else and then tackle the subject line and the headline (which we’ll talk about next). This is obviously the first thing a blogger will see, so it is incredibly important. The subject line you use for your emailed release is, for the most part, what will convince them to open the message or send it straight to the trash, so please take this part of the press release creation process seriously!
Before you send your email blast out, think about who your audience is, what they want, and what will hook them. If you’re doing media outreach on your own, you may be able to hire a publicist or writer to take a look at what you’ve crafted, as they may have suggestions. Show it to those you know in the industry to see what they think. You may even want to read up on tricks and tips that help your subject line stand out, as many journalists receive hundreds of pitches every day.
A Great Photo
Typically, the first thing someone will see when they open your email is a photo, and there’s a good reason for this. If the reader is immediately met with a big block of text, they may quickly scroll through it, or they may decide to click out and move on, believing they don’t have time to go through the entire message.
If, instead, they are greeted by a striking image, they are more likely to continue on, potentially soaking in all the information the release has to offer. This image should be sized correctly so it is large, but not so massive it stretches out the message, making it difficult to manage in many email hosts (a common problem, believe it or not).
Adding a photo to a press release has become a common industry practice, and that’s a good thing, though many people skip one very small detail that makes a snap’s inclusion truly helpful. The goal of sending a press release to journalists is not just to inform them, but hopefully, to get them to use much of what you’ve sent them in their pieces. A great press release will include items a journalist can quickly lift and use in their articles without having to reach out to anyone.
The photo you include should be the one you’d most like them to use if they write about you, so that means you should also make sure to tell them who took it. Adding a line in small text with the photographer’s name helps them skip an email to you asking for that information, as most prominent outlets require that type of credit before anything is published.
The headline (and the sub-header, which is coming up next) is something that can either be very similar to the email’s subject line, or completely different, depending on what route you’re going and how much you have to share.
The headline, which should be in bold, large letters and should appear just below the photo, should be straightforward and informational. Are you releasing a new single? Announcing a new album? Asking people to write about your upcoming tour? Your headline doesn’t need to be flowery, but rather just a few words that perfectly encapsulate the one sentence you’re trying to get across to journalists.
Want some examples? Think about items like these: “XXX Announces New Album XXX To Be Released June 1” or “XXX Adds XXX As Opening Act To Upcoming Spring North American Tour”.
Since you’re focusing on facts in your press release’s headline, you can have a bit more fun and get creative with your sub-header. This part of your release, which essentially acts as a second headline (and which should be presented in a smaller font, though still larger than the rest of the text), can be everything from more information to quotes to, well, anything you can think of. It should touch on a second point that the headline doesn’t get across, but also convince the reader to continue through your message.
If a reputable publication just gave you a good review, feel free to quote them in the sub-header. If your new album features some well-known artists, name them here. Tell bloggers what day and time your single, and then its accompanying video, come out in the sub-header.
Hugh McIntyre is a freelance music journalist based in New York City. His byline has appeared in Billboard, Huffington Post, Mashable, Noisey, The Hollywood Reporter, MTV, Fuse, and dozens of other magazines and blogs around the world. He loves following charts and the biggest and most successful names in the industry, and he's always interested in highlighting incredible feats and discovering what's next.