Writing a Press Release
Definition: “ A written or recorded communication directed at members of the news media for the purpose of announcing something newsworthy. Typically, they are mailed, faxed, or e-mailed to Blogs and assignment editors at newspapers, magazines, radio stations, television stations, or networks.”
In putting together your music business plan, one of the most important aspects is your PR. If you can afford it and if it makes economic sense hiring a PR person can be money well spent. For example, an artist I know was doing a southern tour had hired a PR person to do “Tour Support”. The PR person advanced each gig on the tour with extensive push to all Newspapers, Blogs, music societies, etc. As I watched the press on this artist’s tour, each time there was a new story written about the tour, it was basically the press release verbatim! The same story, over and over again. The same Picture on each story, it was like they were cloned and there was good reason for it. As the 24 hour news cycle moves faster, as budgets get tighter, less writers and reporters are hired the more the press release becomes the story.
Now the results were that as the tour progressed (it was a 2 month tour), the more people showed up to see the artist. By the end of the tour there was more press stories printed (and posted) about the artist, and the shows began to sell out. Now, not taking away from the work of the PR Agent, who works hard to get stories placed, his main tool was a well written Press Release.
Not everything is worthy of a press release
Ok, let’s face it. If you are a local band, every one of your local gigs are not worthy of a press release. If you abuse the news outlets with constant releases on every little gig and move the band makes you will quickly be relegated to the Junk Mail folder. The Reason to write and send out a press release can be described as follows:
- You have released a New CD (aka CD Support) – You can use this press release to announce your new release to Blogs, CD Reviewers, etc
- You are doing a regional/national tour (aka Tour Support) – You can send your press release to the local papers, blogs, Music Societies, etc to advance and announce your performance in that town.
- Special Event – doing a benefit, CD Release Party, Kicking off a Tour, etc. This can be worthy of a Press release, but again do not overuse this.
Now let’s get to how to structure and write your press release
This is where you introduce the fact that this is a press release. And it usually follows a very defined format, such as below:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Press Contact Name:
Other Contact Info:
It’s always a good idea to designate one person to be the press contact for the release(s). Sometmes the press contact would like more info, arrange for an interview, or for press passes to cover the event. It is also a good opportunity for that contact person to create a relationship with these press contacts.
Note: The anatomy of the press release is much like a pyramid in structure. The top of the Pyramid you have the “Headline”, next the lead paragraph, the main body and finally the boilerplate. Each section expanding on the information of the press release, with background information at the base. This lets each media outlet the ability to take the information they need for their particular article. Let’s go through each section and see how it’s constructed.
This is a single sentence that will best describe what you are trying to get across in this press release. This is the first place, sometimes the only place, where you can grab the attention of the media. You should use a larger font and make this sentence “Bold”
The Lead paragraph is a “Single” Paragraph that expands and re-enforces the Headline sentence. This is where you can add some additional information about the event and why it warrants their attention.
As we stated above, more and more the press outlets and blogs don’t have the resources to write all the content needed. A well written press release should be something that they can take and pretty much copy and paste into their publication. The better this section is written, the better the chances that they print your release. A professional PR person is trained to write an effective press release, but if you know someone who understand journalism, they can help you craft a good press release.Always remember you need to always include all 5 W’s, Who, What, Where, Why and When. This section should expand and include all of what is in the Headline and the Lead Paragraph, just say it in a different way.
Here is where you have the opportunity to give the background information on the band or event, put up websites, links to press photos (which should be hi resolution for print) and any other information that the press outlets can use to research more information on you and your event. This section, once written can be used over and over again in future press releases.
Not sure why, but here it is .. as a tradition, not sure why all press releases are ended with three hash tags. Just the fact you put them in will indicate to the bigger press outlets that this was done in a professional manner.
I do caution that you keep your press release to a single page. As press outlets and bloggers don’t have the resources to write all their content, they also don’t have the resources to read long, drawn out press releases. Be concise, to the point. Don’t ramble on or try to sound intelligent by using big words and over extended sentences. You should strive to be informative and interesting in how you present your event. If you know someone who is adept at journalistic editing, have them take a look at your press release before you send it. In the using it for Tour Support, you can use the same release just change the name of the venue. For CD Releases, this will be the one release you will use consistently, so make it right the first time. The better it is written the better your chances it will get noticed and better yet printed.