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So you wanna be in a rock band?: Making headlines

Rose Cora Perry | Interrobang | Lifestyles | February 5th, 2007

If I can tell you anything about gaining media exposure, it's this: persistence and loyalty pay off big time. Though results likely won't emerge as a consequence of your initial trial efforts, this should not discourage you. The more a media outlet hears from you, the more likely you are to receive coverage. On the same note, don't forget to acknowledge the exposure with which you are provided.

Building and maintaining strong relationships with various media outlets will only be to your advantage, and therefore is of the utmost importance. A step in the right direction begins with showing your appreciation for all media coverage, regardless of whether an outlet prints a full-page feature on your act or only mentions your band's name in reference. Every little bit counts, and therefore should not go unnoticed.

If you still need more convincing, consider this: Canadian Musician (CM), a prestigious industry publication elected my opinions as the viewpoint for Canadian indie acts in regards to signing record deals for a ongoing three month feature. My perspective was represented alongside those of several industry bigwigs including Greg Nori (Treble Charger/Manager of Sum41), Steve Blair (Warner Music Canada), Barb Sedun (EMI Publishing) and Grant Dexter (MapleMusic/Last Gang Records). So I'm sure you can imagine just how much of an honour this was to me.

What most people aren't aware of is that in order to be provided with such an opportunity, I had to continually hound the editor of Canadian Musician for over six months before I was even granted a response. When provided with this amazing experience, I ask him why he elected me as a spokeperson for Canadian indie acts. He responded with this simple answer, “Because you were extremely persistent, and professional with me on all accounts.” So, trust me on this one, persistence does pay-off, you just need to re-program yourself into appreciating prolonged, instead of immediate, gratification.

Timing and locality are everything

Timeliness is a key factor in terms of getting featured and if you can correspond your media efforts with an upcoming event, tour, or record release, you will likely have better results. Never leave the solicitation of your press release up to the last minute as the media has deadlines to which you need to demonstrate consideration.

Sending out emails or making the necessary phone calls at least two to three weeks in advance works well. However, for larger cities such as New York or Toronto where there is steeper competition, contacting the media a month in advance is recommended.

As well, focusing on the local market to which your event pertains would be in your best interest, as the media produce stories that are not only current, but oriented towards their community. Of course, the internet is able to break some boundaries here with sites that, for example, cover cross-Canada events, but generally speaking targeting your media efforts specifically for each city to which your band tours is a good idea.

Which medium to target

The choice as to whether you solicit media attention from print, radio, or television will largely depend on a) your event's target market (all ages, 19+, charity orientation etc.) and b) the size of the city to which you are touring.

I personally think that there is no harm in contacting as many media outlets as possible per city as a multitude of coverage will only help with promotions. The more often that people hear about an event, the more likely it'll peak their interest, and resultantly, they will be driven to seek out more information, if not attend to see what it's all about. So, when it comes to soliciting media attention, I adopt the popular adage, “go big, or go home.” There is no such thing as too much coverage, but there certainly is such a thing as too little.

The other thing to keep in mind is that if you are touring to foreign territory, it is doubtful that you will be apprized of the media habits of your target market. Therefore, if you contact all outlets, it's a safer approach as opposed to attempting to guess which ones appeal to your audience.

However, by saying this, I'm not recommending that you bombard every media outlet in each city. You need to ensure that you are only contacting media outlets that provide coverage to artists to whom you are similar in genre, otherwise, you will be wasting your time, and irritating potential contacts.
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