So you wanna be in a rock band?: Playing the media
When contacting a media outlet, make sure you do your research and know who it is to whom you should be speaking. Magazine, radio and television outlets have large staffs, and if you send out a generic email through a contact form, your message will either be ignored, or fittingly, you will be provided with an automated response. If you don't take the time to personalize, why should they? Although writing personalized messages to direct contacts is more time-consuming, it is well worth the effort.
In terms of who you should be contacting for coverage, for magazines, your approach should be directed towards the music editor. Similarly for TV and radio, you should be contacting the station's music director. Coming across a music editor/director's email and/or phone number is typically easy given that most media outlets have official websites with staff directories. In this event, this sort of information is not provided online, hey what are phonebooks for? All it takes is one simple call to inquire as to who is in charge of music promotions for your desired media outlet. You'll find that little bit of research will go a long way.
Please remember that these editors/directors have worked hard to earn their placements in such high profile careers. Thus, a direct approach in which you know their first and last name, and can demonstrate a bit of knowledge in regards to their outlet and the coverage it provides will speak volumes in terms of your level of professionalism and they will be more likely to consider your request for exposure seriously.
Know what you want
Keeping in mind the importance of media research, one should be aware of the different kinds of exposure an outlet offers and what your desired coverage is prior to solicitation. Be clear in your message. If you want to do an interview, say exactly that. Your message should be short and to the point, but detailed enough to grab their interest. Tell them who you are (including a brief list of notable accomplishments), what you want (interview, feature, or review and how it relates to their outlet), how they can contact you, and where they can find out more information on your act if required (links to your official site, Myspace, and/or EPK).
Sending out press kits need to be done in a highly strategic fashion in order to create an impressive, and attractive press kit, it requires a lot of time and effort. Furthermore, mailing them out certainly does not come cheap. So, I advise you to NEVER send out a press kit without previous contact and a direct request from the outlet to do so. It'll either end up in the trash, or worse, your band could become the victim of a vicious attack.
You will find (if you don't want to take my word for it) that music editors/directors will often feature unsolicited material in their cd review segments which often proves to be a less than desirable experience. Reviewers are more apt to tear apart bands with who they have had no prior contact because let's face it, to them, your act is merely just another band to which they will feel no guilt for slamming as a relationship has not been established. Even if a reviewer is not totally keen on your band's music, you will find their reviews of your cds will be much more positive if, for example, you've conducted an interview with this individual.
Another thing to keep in mind is that reviewers are human and thus temperamental. Another reason as to why you could become a victim of a heartless review is because well simply put, they were having a bad day, and you're music didn't appeal to their current state of mind. Again, a way to prevent this unfortunate experience from happening is to ensure that any CD review you solicit is accompanied by an interview/feature in which the reviewer is able to put a face and personality to your band.
Remember, media relationship building is important, as citizens turn to the media as a truthful unbiased source of information. It's called “reputation management,” and not only is press solicitation a great way to garner the attention of new fans, and promote appearances, but it certainly looks good on the resume and attracts industry execs. Just make sure that when you seek out promotional opportunities, you maintain control of the coverage because once you send out unsolicited material, it's like feeding yourself to the sharks.