I’m going to let you in on a secret:
No, I’m not revealing my deeply help love of ABBA’s greatest hits or my favorite pair of pants.
This is about YOU. This is about a fundamental misunderstanding of the way media – specifically blogs – decide how and what they publish.
Your parents, teachers and conventional wisdom taught you that the “cream rises to the top” or “build it and they will come.”
Wrong, dead wrong.
In this article I’m going to show you how to ethically manipulate the press to your advantage and get free music PR.
To understand how to get that coverage, you first have to understand the mindset of writers, bloggers and editors.
THE MEDIA LANDSCAPE HAS CHANGED
In the golden days, writers worked for days, weeks…sometimes months on a story for their magazine or newspaper. Editors reviewed the material produced by their staff writers and reporters and decided what made the cut.
The internet changed everything.
Like the recorded music industry, the publishing industry has been pummeled by the market forces generated by innovative technology.
Why wait for the magazine to come once a month when you can read articles online any day you want? Major music publishers like SPIN Media are going all digital.
SCREW SUBSCRIBERS, WE NEED EYEBALLS
Today’s media is fueled by advertising. Advertising that is becoming more commoditized, less relevant and less effective.
This vicious cycle drives online publishers to use aggressive tactics and headlines to generate traffic.
Here are a few crazy headlines I pulled up in 3 minutes:
“50 Celebrities Who Are Flat Broke”
“Unless You Want To Celebrate Bella Thorne’s Birthday From A Jail Cell, Ignore These Pics”
“The Caucasians’ Guide To Black Barbecues”
You can hardly resist clicking. I didn’t provide links, I know I would have lost you to one of those stories!
Writers are often paid by the amount of views their story receives. It doesn’t take much to figure out what a writer’s incentive is when deciding what to write about.
How does this apply to music artists?
A great story or a viral video can literally launch a career.
Most artists approach PR all wrong. I’m going to provide some insight that will give you an advantage.
You are going to learn what to do and how to get media coverage.
How most artists do PR wrong:
- Most do nothing. They make music, put it out, hope people pay attention
- More advanced artists might hire a publicist to send out a press release announcing “ABC releases new single!” And surprise! No one cares.
This post was inspired by a book called “Trust Me I’m Lying – Confessions Of A Media Manipulator” by Ryan Holiday. I suggest you immediately pick up this book because it will change the way you view PR forever.
In the book Ryan describes his role as a “media manipulator” and how he generated “millions of dollars of free marketing” by tricking lower-level blogs to write stories and “feeding the monster” by “trading up the chain” to larger, more credible news sources.
Ryan’s approach and tactics have evolved and don’t include “tricking” writers any longer. Rather he prescribes a targeted and incentive-based approach to gaining PR.
The “manipulation” tactics I’m about to show you aren’t dishonest, hurtful or illegal…rather they manipulate in a softer way.
By appealing to a blog writer’s self-interest and “trading up the chain” you can get the same results as a six-figure major label marketing budget for free.
See Also: 3 Real Ways To Get a Record Deal
I will paraphrase Ryan’s main points so that they directly relate to the music business:
HOW TO GET FREE MUSIC PR
TACTIC #1: START SMALL (PICK YOUR TARGET)
Look for music blogs that are small but influential. (Meaning: more prominent music media, artists or other influencers read and take notice of what’s written about)
Identify past stories that they wrote on artists similar to you or topics like the story you are trying to spread.
Insider tip: sign up for helpareporterout.com (a service that matches reporters with experts in various industries). List yourself as an expert in music, and specifically your genre. This won’t generate stories about you, but you will have opportunities to comment on other stories and get your name out there as an expert.
TACTIC #2: ALWAYS APPEAL TO SELF-INTEREST(APPROACH YOUR TARGET)
Pick an angle the fits for the target blog and specific writer. Do this by finding several articles about similar topics written by your target writer at your target blog. Don’t be too general. Don’t just find an article about Hip Hop if you are dropping a new track. You have to get more creative.
Send the writer an email that does all their work for them.
Remember when you had to deliver term papers in school? Wouldn’t it be great if someone just wrote them for you?
What if you had to deliver 10 term papers each day! Some blog reporters are tasked with this crazy volume. How refreshing would it be if someone pitching a story offered to write it?
Are you starting to get the point?
Subject: Quick question
I wanted to shoot you a note because I loved your post on [similar topic that did a lot of traffic]. I was going to give this to our publicist, but I thought I would go to you with the exclusive because I read and really enjoy your stuff. My [e.g. “new song contains a controversial claim about xyz celebrity/politician” or “our new music video contains death-defying stunts”] and [indicate in 10 words or less]. And I did it completely off the radar. This means you would be the first to have it. I can write up any details you’d need to make it great. Do you think this might be a good fit?
If so, should I draft something up around [their average # of] words and send it to you, or do you prefer a different process? If not, I totally understand and thanks for reading this much.
All the best,
TACTIC #3: FEED THE MONSTER (TRADE UP THE CHAIN)
Now that you have a story, blow it up! Make sure it is on everyone’s radar. Create a list of other blog reporters and email them this story. Offer them an interview and a follow up story.
Submit if to social media sites, submit it as a tip to other news sites, drive tons of traffic to it.
If the story receives tons of traffic, the blog writer will be much more likely to write about you again. It’s that simple!
If you are just starting out, you don’t need a big and expensive PR firm to issue press releases about you.
Eventually artists work with PR firms to secure performances on TV shows, stories about new albums, etc. By that point artists are fielding many incoming calls.
In the beginning stages, you need to hustle and create stories for yourself.
Hopefully these tactics will help you get a few steps closer.
And don’t forget, get a copy of “Trust Me I’m Lying – Confessions Of A Media Manipulator” by Ryan Holiday.
All credit goes to Ryan Holiday for developing and testing these tactics and sharing them with the world.
Let me know in the comments what story you are going to pitch….