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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

A Guide To Getting My Attention

In my role at DCist, I receive an awful lot of press releases. A really, terrible, awful lot. It amazes me how many of them are practically useless. Here's a little guide to how to make a press release that might actually get paid attention to.

Do
  • Include your band's name and the relevant information (date of show/album release/whatever) in the subject line
  • Get to the point early on. "My band, The Amandakins, is playing the Black Cat on September 21."
  • Give me about one paragraph of biographical information. I'm not going to cut and paste from your press release if I write about you, so you don't have to give me a novel. Just tell me who you are and get it over with.
  • LINKS! Don't make me google you.
  • A personal note is nice sometimes. Such as including my name or the name of my pub instead of a mass emailing. Nice but not necessary.
  • Have a funny name. I swear the PR/management industry attracts the strangest-named people I've ever encountered. And you can bet I'm going to remember Creamer and Sarah Fantastic for a lot longer than I am somebody else. Not that you have a lot of control over that, but it helps.
  • Remember me if we email frequently. If you're sending me releases every week and then I write you back about something, don't ask who I am. I'm replying to an email you sent me.
Don't
  • Be gimmicky. A sense of humor is ok, but if I have to read through three paragraphs of some long joke tangent to get to the point of what you're saying, I'm just not going to. That's what instant messenger and my friends' blogs are for.
  • Be too weirdly personal. Some PR people feel the need to take on a "hey girlfriend!" tone. It's just weird. I don't know you. Save the OMGs and weekend stories for people that could potentially put your face and name together.
  • Be vague in the email itself. As I mentioned earlier, you have to tell me why I should be reading this right up front. If I get an email that says, "information about upcoming dc show" and has a word doc attached, I will not open it.
  • Attach enormous pictures. Just tell me they're available upon request. Or ya know, have a website. I can find them there, thanks.
  • Send them too far in advance (I've received a few recently for events in November and December) or too close (day before your show), unless you're planning on following up/are following up.
  • Don't follow up a million times. Two emails on one topic is about the max I can tollerate. If you have a team sending out daily updates about an upcoming show, I will start to hate you and your band on annoyance alone.
OK that pretty much covers it. Happy press-gathering!

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