You’ve got a big gig scheduled for next month – the biggest yet. You’re set to debut a handful of songs that you’re sure will rock the house. But will people show up? To create a following you have to get the word out. You need publicity.
1. Be a Purple Cow
In his book Purple Cow, marketing expert Seth Godin explains how important it is to really set yourself apart, not simply in how you market yourself but in how you do everything. There are countless bands, authors, and artists out there clamoring for their 15 minutes of fame.
But the ones that get the publicity aren’t necessarily the most talented ones. They are the ones that go against the grain and bucking the trends. Consider Lady Gaga, Robert Mapplethorpe, Quentin Tarantino. Don’t be afraid to take your art in a totally new direction. Don’t be just another brown cow. Be a purple cow. Be memorable.
2. Learn to Tell Your Story
Most bios and “about me” pages are so boring you wish someone could give you back the time you wasted reading them. Who the fuck cares that you grew up in Poughkeepsie or that your favorite artist was Andrew Wyeth.
Tell me about the time you how you got kicked out of school for painting a mural on the wall of the girl’s restroom. Make me laugh. Make me angry. Inspire me. But for the love of pizza, don’t bore me. Reporters don’t give publicity to boring people.
If you need help with this (and most of us do), I would strongly suggest contacting Sean Buvala at seantells.com. He is a whiz at this kind of thing, won’t charge you an arm and a leg and he’s an all-around cool guy.
3. Learn how to write a Press Release
If you ever hope to be listed on Wikipedia (and if you want to be considered a notable professional, you should), then you are going to need some serious publicity. Wikipedia doesn’t care what your friends think of you. They only care what legitimate, notable information sources think — sources like newspapers, industry publications, etc.
To get that kind of publicity, you need to learn how to write a press release (or media release as it is sometimes called these days). There are a lot of resources out there including books, articles, etc. where you can learn the essentials. The big thing is providing information that is timely, local and of interest to the readers of the media source you are contacting. Publications are swamped with press releases, but only a small percentage are published because so few are worthy of a reader’s interest.
4. Find the media outlets where your audience hangs out
If you’re band’s musical style is riot grrrl with an electronica twist and klezmer instrumentation, then don’t send press releases to an industry blog that focuses on jazz. They may like your style and originality, but they won’t blog about your upcoming album.
Find out who likes your style. Where do they hang out on the web? What publications (print or online) do they read? Find this out and you will find media outlets that are receptive to giving you some free publicity.
5. Always Be Professional
It is one thing to be provocative in your work (and well you should be). But that doesn’t mean being a douchebag to the press. Just because the Arts columnist in your local alternative weekly thought your last effort was pathetic doesn’t mean you should call that person out. Or worse, contact them and try to convince them they’re an idiot who just doesn’t get you.
Be professional. Learn to take criticism. Ignore the trolls. Be nice to the media. It will get you much publicity. If you don’t, they will roast you alive.
Bonus: Use PR Services
Services like pr.com and free-press-release.com are opportunities to get your press release out to publications you might not know about, but who may be interested in carrying your story. Sean Buvala (mentioned above) recently told me he’s had a lot of success with their paid services, in addition to their free services. Definitely worth checking out.
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