How to do your own PR
as a Musician

 

The content for this article is derived from a guest lecture given by AIM’s Marketing Dept. at Flip Week, a bi-annual occasion hosted by the Australian Institute of Music whereby students are invited to attend classes, demonstrations and workshops that aim to expose students to new experiences and ways of thinking that may not necessarily fall within the scope of their studies, all in order to have the best chance of success in their future careers.
 


DISCLAIMER: Some of the strategies explained in this article will teach you how to pull extremely valuable music industry contacts from Google and LinkedIn.

These tools and strategies have been well documented and utilised in the Sales and Recruitment industry for years now and all we're attempting to do is frame it within a music PR context here. Anyone who decides to use tactics such as scraping and automated emailing of contacts at scale does so at their own volition and should always remember that with great power comes great responsibility. If you SPAM or harass industry contacts your reputation will be ruined before you know it! 

However, if you follow our advice, offer value and approach contacts in a professional manner you have the potential to send a huge wave of organic traffic to your music and brand!



Contents


Press coverage and good Public Relations (PR) are absolutely essential when it comes to building your brand as an artist and promoting your music! When used correctly Public Relations and press coverage builds third-party credibility and can often send a wave of traffic to your social profiles and music.
 

In this guide, we're going to show you:

  • Why you need PR
  • How to craft your 'PR angle'
  • How to find gatekeepers/influencers
  • How to find their contact details (Emails & Phone) 
  • How to structure your email pitch
  • How to reach out at scale 

We hope you enjoy!


 

Why do you need PR? 
 

At its simplest, Public Relations is about what other people say about you.

You can shout to the world and post on social media about how good you are as much as you want but at the end of the day, your ‘brand’ (that could be you as an artist, your band or an artist you’re managing) is only what other people say it is.

It’s the difference between you calling yourself a star player and the opposition's coach calling you the star player.

 

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Quick Distinction: PR is different from advertising in the sense that with advertising, you’re paying money to tell people something and that’s that, whereas PR is what other people are saying about you. 

 


Public Relations and press coverage build third-party credibility and can often send a wave of traffic to your socials and your music. You can also use third-party credibility to warm cold audiences (people who haven't been exposed to your messaging before) by re-marketing these articles to them with Facebook Ads. For instance, if you get a favourable piece of press coverage you can re-market that article as a Facebook Ad to your audience in the lead up to a release.


Types of PR 

 

  • Interviews - This can be an interview on a podcast, radio or a fully-fledged write-up like we do on the AIM blog.
  • Features - If you have an interesting story with a strong human-interest angle behind it a feature article may be your best way to dig into that.  
  • Reviews - EP or Single release reviews.
  • Playlist Placements - Playlists are THE best way to have your music discovered by new audiences. Finding a placement requires you to identify a playlist your sound fits with and then reaching out to the Playlist curator and asking if your song could be included. 

 

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The Pros of PR:

 

Influence – Audiences are much more likely to trust messages coming from an objective source. Would you trust an album review if it was done by the band who created that album?

 

Reach – A good story is more likely to be seen by lots of people and picked up by other outlets (this is called syndication) which in turn exposes your message to an even larger audience.

 

Cost – PR can be a cost-effective and engaging way of reaching a large audience with the potential to be a viral hit if an article written about you is syndicated across multiple other publications.

 

Apart from perhaps forking out a bit of money for some good promo shots the only real investment that you have to make (if you're doing your own PR) is your time!

 


 

The Cons of PR:

 

    1. No Direct Control – Unlike paid ads, you can’t control how the piece will be written, where it will be placed or even if it gets negative feedback. There’s always the very real possibility of receiving bad reviews, no real engagement or social media syndication.  

      For example, you might have been originally looking to get featured on a publication yet the editor might only want to do a small interview with you and then when they post the article they might only do that late at night when no one will see it. Basically, you don’t have much say how and where your piece is released.

       
    2. No Guaranteed Results – You can spend a lot of money on photos/videos etc but you can’t guarantee that you will be published, especially the lesser known you are.

      There will be a lot of rejection at the start. That initial step of going from 0 to 1 is always the hardest but once you get that first placement you can start to slowly gain traction and get the ball rolling.

       
    3. Evaluation – It is difficult to measure how effective PR activities are as they generally happen on external sites or social media pages where you don’t have access. IE. Website traffic.



Crafting an Angle

 

Before you even think about any kind of outreach it’s important to sit down and think about your press angle (which is basically how you want to present yourself and your brand to the world) and WHY a journalist, interviewer or presenter should talk to you!

What you see below is a sexy acronym to help you craft your story angle and help secure press coverage.

 

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Social Proof 

Essentially... this involves listing your achievements or name dropping others!

Having a lot of social proof means mentioning relationships with other established names in your field or previous press you’ve received – or being one of the first to pioneer new trends (being a thought leader) which other artists or publications then talk about.

Social media is your bread and butter for this as you can make your relationship with other established names very public.

 

As the discerning reader would have guessed though, this means you need to go out there and form relationships with a lot of people which means putting yourself out there.


 

Theme

You want to ensure that you're reaching out to the right publication with and pitching a story/press angle that's on theme with their brand. You wouldn't pitch an interview with a Hip Hop artist to a radio station that specialises in Country music, it's not on brand with their audience and themes. 

There's also external events or trends happening in the music scene – going back to a Hip Hop example, if you’re an up-and-coming rapper you might want to associate yourself with a ‘new wave’ of Australian artists coming through in an otherwise stagnant scene or if you’re an electronic producer/DJ you might want to be associated with the underground scene.

It all depends on what fits your image/story.

 

This can also include things like upcoming events – for example (and this is a bad one) there might be an ‘Aussie Music Week’ etc that you can potentially piggyback off. Obviously, this means researching ahead and deciding what best fits you and your image.

 


Emotion


Emotion generally trumps rational thought – for example, it’s the reason why people might gamble even though they know that mathematically it might not make sense.

 

It just feels good to them, right?

 

Humans’ attention span is now actually less than that of a goldfish which is why your brand will get more attention if it has some sort of emotional hook that will pull people in.

 

Basically, you want to appeal to people with ‘thumb -stopping’ emotional content. 
 

 

 

Practical Value 


Are you providing value to someone or solving a problem?

For example, you might make some videos explaining something in-particular that your audience might not know or understand about the genre of music you’re in (kind of what we’re doing with this PR guide here…)

Basically, making knowledge more accessible.


Also, put yourself in the shoes of the journalists/blogger you’re reaching out to for a moment. They need to produce a certain amount of content per a week or month and they probably receive hundreds of Emails a week pitching stories to them which is why you need to offer them something of value.
 

 

Stories 

People love to be entertained and a storyline is one of the best ways to do this. Generally, a good story will include some sort of hardship or adversity and then how you overcame it, something along the lines of how
 you did XYZ to achieve X 

 

 

So, ideally, you would want a combination of these to be your angle.

There’s a term in marketing/advertising called a USP which stands for Unique Selling Proposition – basically, you need to figure out what makes you different from your competitors.

 

If you’re pitching a story to a journalist that they’ve already heard a million times they are not really going to pick you up whereas if you pitch them something fresh, something they’ve never seen or heard of before, you’re a lot more likely to get some coverage.

 

 

 

 

Do your Research!!

 

    • Where: You need to find publications that match the level you’re at in your career.

      To begin with you’re going to be doing a lot of independent Blogger interviews but over time you want that to snowball into bigger online publications. While online publications are favourable because you can easily share them over social media, getting a placement in a print magazine is still great since you can take a picture of the article and tag the publication.

       
    • Who: To get placements, you need the contact info of journalists, bloggers, podcasters, fan pages and playlist curators – more on this below.
       
    • Why: Before you even think about approaching a journalist, ask yourself what you actually want out of it; do you want them to review your new EP or do you want them to conduct a full feature interview with you?


Basically, it pays to have a clear goal in mind.


How to Find Gatekeepers/Influencers


You need to start with data!


Depending on what you’re looking for the following websites are easy ways to find the following influencers. BuzzSumo for journalists/bloggers, iTunes for podcasters and Socialbakers for fan pages/groups.


 

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BuzzSumo

Take BuzzSumo as an example. You want to search for content that’s relevant to your subject matter. If you were a rapper, then you would do a content search for “Hip Hop.”

BuzzSumo lets you refine your content search by location and when those articles were written from the last 24 hours to 5 years. This will bring up every article about Hip Hop, between the last 5 years and 24 hours and will tell you who wrote it.

 

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IF you have a paid account then you will be able to export these influencers names into a spreadsheet. With their information, First Name, Last Name, Position, socials and any notes about their past work. 
 

Chart Metric

If you’re looking for Playlists then you want to use Chart Metric which via a free account will let you see which artists are being played on which playlists. A premium account will let you find out who curates those playlists (A premium account is quite expensive).

However, most blogs and online publications will also have their own playlist these days so you can find them via their website. Remember to stay on THEME when reaching out to Playlist Curators, align yourself with their tastes and what they have historically included in their playlists.

 

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Pitching to playlists is a little different to pitching for PR and we won't be able to get into any detail here but will definitely do a focused article on pitching to Spotify playlists curators soon!
 

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is THE BEST best place on the internet to find any professional contacts! Just find an online publication/radio station that you like for like Triple J, then just search that company on LinkedIn and LinkedIn will show you all the employees that work there who have a LinkedIn account, it's really that simple! 

We really can’t stress this enough, if you don’t already have LinkedIn, make an account now... because this next section will require you to have an account!



How to find their contact details!

 

Now comes the fun part, scraping contact details off LinkedIn and websites. 

At this point, we'd like to remind anyone who's reading this that with great power comes great responsibility! We're about to show you how to pull super valuable music industry contacts from LinkedIn so don’t SPAM them because your reputation will be ruined before you know it! 

We won't get into too much detail but scraping is essentially pulling data that wouldn’t usually be accessible to you and there's plenty of tools out there online that can do this for you. It’s legal but it’s a little bit of a grey area so make sure you proceed with caution because people can be very touchy when it comes to receiving emails/phone numbers from people they don't know...


The best tool to use here is Contactout (there's plenty of other tools available) as it will consistently deliver accurate results. Contactout is a chrome extension in your browser that allows you to extract information (mostly work/personal email addresses and sometimes phone numbers) from LinkedIn profiles without having to connect with them first.

So what does this actually look like? Well, just watch the video below to get an idea of how easy it is to use a tool like Contactout to find contact details. 

 



 

 


 

How to reach out using an email Template



Ok, so now that you've got your list of contacts ready what do you actually send them in your email? 



Let’s take the example of reaching out to a blogger/journalist for press coverage in the form of an interview or feature.

Remember what we said earlier about putting yourself in the shoes of the journalists/blogger you’re reaching out to?

They need to produce a certain amount of content per a week or month and they probably receive hundreds of Emails a week pitching stories to them which is why you need to offer them something of value in a professional manner.


Email Subject Line: Your subject line is make or break for your email outreach... keep it targeted and intriguing and they'll click through to your pitch. If it's a generic, "Hi just reaching out to see if you're interested in blah blah blah" they'll scroll past. Check out this great article from HubSpot for some email subject line ideas!

 

Pre-written personal blogger statements – (I read your story on X and really enjoyed it – get into detail really stroke their EGO) 

1-2 sentence pitch - (who you are, what you’re doing and what you want)
 

3-4 points on why they should care (Value props/topics of interest - Remember STEPS) 

    • Any previous buzz-worthy stories related to your brand? (Social Proof)
    • Thought leadership/subject- matter expertise? (Practical Value) 
    • How you did XYZ to achieve X (Could be the Story behind this EP release) 
    • Notable Milestones/accomplishments? (Social Proof)

A SINGLE LINK to your EPK (Electronic Press Kit) includes all necessary files hosted on a DropBox or Google Drive Link (ensure that it’s accessible) 
 

Define a Clear Call to Action!  Scheduling a call, interviews, next steps, "let’s chat” 
 

Sign off & thank them for their time.
 

OPTIONAL: Sender Persona + Profile Pic (kind of like an Email stamp). Put a face to the name emailing them out of the blue! Makes it seem professional!
 

 

Here's an example of what this email pitch structure might look like you can see one made by AIM student riddo.

 

 

 

How to Scale your Outreach!

Like all marketing, this is going to be a numbers game! 



IF you have 150 contacts in a spreadsheet and you send an Email you would be lucky to get a 15% response rate straight away.

Depending on how many contacts you end up having you want to automate the process as much as possible so you’re not sending hundreds of emails individually.




 

If you have a CRM like MailChimp you can add all your scraped contacts to an excel sheet and upload them there, or you can create a Mail Merge document using an Excel Spread Sheet and a Word Doc. If you want to do this for free we suggest watching some YouTube Video tutorials on how to use Excel and Word to create a mail merge document that links to your email address which will let you send out large amounts of personalised emails. 

MailChimp is also a good option as it has a free plan up to a certain amount of emails sent. 

We use ContactOut which has a really awesome inbuilt mail merge feature (see below) that just connects to your Gmail account. It's super simple and keeps everything contained on a single platform. 


 

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What's Next? 



Ensure you follow up!

Your contacts are probably busy and won’t answer at first so ensure you send three emails at least! You can follow up with the same email but a different subject line saying “Hey, just following up to ensure you saw this from the other day!”




Space it out over the course of a week. For Example, you could send Email 1 on Monday morning, then wait two days before sending email 2 on Wednesday,  then wait another two days before sending email 3 on Friday. 

If you found a mobile number you can send two emails then maybe follow up with a phone call - this is a risky tactic but if you’re up for it go for it, you have a much better chance of convincing someone if you can get them on the phone first! However, if you call them up and they ask where you got their number from...  DON’T TELL THEM WHERE YOU GOT THEIR INFO, be as vague as you can and say you just found it on Google. 

Know when to walk away!

If you've sent your three emails, tried calling a contact and they still haven't responded it's best to call it quits and move onto the next contact. You can revisit them in a couple of months when you have your next big release or newsworthy story but odds are you (A) have incorrect/old contact details or (B) they're just not interested. 

 

Test and Optimise!

You may send a round of emails and find that no one answers. That's not unusual. You may send another round of emails with a different subject line and find that you get 3-4 positive responses that time round. The key to making this work will be persistence, testing your approach and making incremental improvements. 

 

 

 

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The Process


If you've made it this far, congrats! 

You're now prepared with the tools and strategy necessary to get out there and start doing your own PR work to promote your music! We can guarantee that it will be a grind to begin with but the beautiful thing with PR is that it has a tendency to snowball and pick up momentum. Once you convince that first publication/interviewer to take a chance on you, you'll be able to take that win into your next pitch and say "look I was featured in X the other week".

The combined FOMO on the next big thing, social proof that you were already featured elsewhere should convince whoever you're pitching your story to that you're worth covering and should get you across the line just that little bit easier!

Just remember the Process: 
 

  • Find the Right Person - Get their contact details. 
  • Find the Right Offer - Do your research on what your 'Right Person' is after!
  • Automate Sending - Marketing is a numbers game but tools like Contactout will allow you to personalise at scale
  • Test, Improve & Repeat - See what worked, what didn't and make sure you do something different the next time based on your results!

 

Now, get out there and make it happen! 

 

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