Why DIY? Vol IV: How To Write Your Own Press Release
Anyone with news can write a press release. As a DIY band, your job is to communicate upcoming tours, releases, and music videos to journalists who have the power to amplify your message to an even larger audience. While a hired publicist can be a pipeline to a valuable network of public relations, many bands are on a shoestring budget or want to develop their own voice.
For many years, people have asked who manages White Mystery press because of the volume of articles written about the band. The reality is that I do it myself, under my own name, in addition to playing guitar and booking all the shows, by having a system.
This Sonicbids article informs you what not to do, though it seems more constructive in WHY DIY? to actually show you how to organize your band’s press release correctly.
First, ask yourself these questions:
1. WHAT IS YOUR MESSAGE?
What is the news you’re trying to communicate? What is your goal here? This is a good place to explain your news, the theme of your story, and what to expect. Remember, the message in your press release is for news that has yet to occur. In other words, you want to keep your new music video set on “unlisted” on YouTube or your Bandcamp of a new album set to “private” until you secure a premiere with a news outlet. Once you’ve published your message, it’s old news, so keep the cards close to your chest until your story publishes!
2. WHO IS YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE?
Who do you want to absorb your news the most? An idea of who you you’d like to be consuming your news will guide which press outlets to pitch to. Think locally about your weekly paper’s website, your old college pal’s music blog, or the Chicagoist of your town. Most journalists’ email addresses are listed under the “contact” tab of the website and you’ll want to pitch to those who are covering the genre or acts similar to you.
3. WHAT IS YOUR DIFFERENTIATOR?
What is your most notable strength? As you may know, there are tons of artists and experienced publicists pitching to the same journalist you’re contacting, so you need to make yourself stand out. Think outside the box to communicate what makes your music video, new album, or upcoming show super special. Did you shoot the music video in a location that’s relevant to the audience? Was your album recorded by your dad in a home-studio in three hours? Does your upcoming concert feature a band with three people all named Max? You’ll want to mention an interesting nugget that the journalist can bite into.
The easiest way to design an electronic press release is with MailChimp, because it’s free and user-friendly.
Follow these steps to lay out your band’s press release:
1. SUBJECT HEADLINE
Create a compelling line that encourages action and intrigue. Include the date you want the news to be released in this headline.
Include a banner of your band logo that links to the band website.
Start with a blurb that contains detailed information like relevant dates, influences, background, favorite venues, sponsorships, description of your music, along with hyperlinks and bold keywords. Miss Alex White urges her readers to always remember to write press releases in the third person!
Provide a direct link to your new album or single on a music streaming service. Avoid sending bulky attachments if possible.
Live performance footage or official music videos are a great way to make new fans. The best way to include video in MailChimp is to screenshot a YouTube video player, and attach a link of the video to the image.
Include high-resolution photographs or portraits of your band along with a link to see more in a Facebook album or on your website.
List your past press blurbs as quotes with the news source linked, like this. If the press is from a television spot or interview, consider an eye-catching screencap image from the clip that links directly to the piece.
List more upcoming performances with ticket or event links. Include posters that direct to the “shows” page on your band website.
9. SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS
Provide links to all of your band’s website and social media profiles.
Your name, email address, and phone number.
Once you construct the press release with your message, differentiators, pictures, links, etc., send a test e-mail via MailChimp to yourself and to a friend to make the final edits. It’s always wise to let another set of eyeballs peruse your work, even when you think it’s perfect. Click here to see an example press release by White Mystery, or keep scrolling when you get to the end of this column.
Now that the test email is in your inbox, it’s time to write a quick cover letter to your target reader. Refer to the lesson on how to write a three-line pitch professional email in WHY DIY? Vol III, and address your press release to a specific journalist with your specific request. Example:
Really loving your articles for the new Riot Fest website!
White Mystery drops a new album on April 20 for the 8th year in a row, and would love to premiere a track with you online — check out the press release below.
When is the soonest you could debut the news on RiotFest.com?
Looking forward to your reply,
Miss Alex White
**copy and paste your test email here**
In the absence of a reply from the journalist, feel free to follow up after seven days. Like many aspects of the DIY music industry, the key here is to persevere beyond rejection and maneuver your press release to a willing journalist. The reality is that a lot of media outlets seek what’s hot and exciting so they have news to report. Consider what differentiates you to these gatekeepers, and communicate your music to a larger audience. This way, you garner the attention that you want for your big news, keep your fans happy, and maintain your band’s integrity.
The views and opinions expressed within the Why DIY? column are those of its author, Miss Alex White, and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, and business practices of Riot Fest.