One day, when you’re a rock star with a taste for classic cars and nude sunbathing, you’ll do anything to stay out of the papers. Until then, you need all the column inches you can get – and that’s where the press release comes in. Essentially, a press release is a short announcement, emailed or posted to the media, for the newshounds to spread like wildfire and alert the masses to whatever you’re plugging. But there’s a right way and a wrong way.
Make sure there’s a story
For your press release to have a chance in hell of being picked up by a journalist, it needs to be ‘pegged’ to a newsworthy story. This could be the release of your crowdfunded debut album, your death-or-glory first tour, your dramatic victory in a battle of the bands – the point is, it needs to be something more than ‘local band exists’. If there’s nothing to report, hold fire until there is.
Get to the point
Music journalists are busy, irritable people with dross flooding their inboxes, and if they don’t smell a story within two seconds, you’ll be cast into oblivion. Your headline or subject bar needs to snappily sum up the earth-shaking event that you’re promoting, before the first paragraph fills out the core facts (who, what, when, where, why and how). You can briefly introduce the band within this opening gambit, but don’t lose sight of the peg.
Keep it brief
Once you’ve got the main story out of the way, it’s time to segue seamlessly into the band’s biography, credentials and key achievements (always written in the third person). For the love of God, keep it concise. You might not be curtailed by a 140-character limit, but save the minutiae for your memoirs, and just include the wham-bam highlights. Anything longer than two A4 sides is too much.
Sell your band
There’s enough boring bands out there without you droning on about your “organic writing process”. Show some personality. Include a few war stories and zinging quotes from your most charismatic member. Find an angle, a bit of drama or just something daft enough that journalists want to hear more. Texas grunge-rockers Blacktop Mojo, for instance, claim to wrestle alligators in their press pack: it’s not even true, but gets them plenty of coverage.
Display your press quotes prominently
For journalists, there’s safety in numbers, and if a hack sees that other publications have praised you, they’re far more likely to give you a chance. Include a few prominent pull quotes in the press release, and don’t forget to list your own contact details at the end.
And if all else fails…
If your final press release reads like the ramblings of an illiterate, egomaniac child, then admit defeat, approach a journalist from a publication you admire, and pay them to write it instead. Not only will you end up with a professional press release, but there’s a fair chance the journalist will fall in love with your band and pitch an interview to their editor.