Public Relations

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Media Whore

Media Whore

A Shockingly Simple Guide to Becoming Your Own Kickass Publicist
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“IF YOU WANT SOME...COME GET SOME” - John Cena - PhD. Thuganomics.

Or as our Mom would often remind us… “IT NEVER HURTS TO ASK”. - Mom

Here comes the simple answer to why you are reading this information. The main question of ‘How Do I Get Media Attention’?

You are going to ask for it. Oh, just like that, eh? Just going to ask the media for coverage and have them magically grant my requests? Yes, just like that.

We are not suggesting that every time we ask the media for coverage they all grant our requests. Of course not. From project to project it is a small percent of our overall media list that will respond favorably. Not all of them will be interested in what we are doing. However now that Steve and I have been at this for so long, some of them always will. This is in part what is referred to as the law of averages. We are consistent enough that eventually all the media we seek will be interested in something we are doing. We are not just seeking media coverage for our current project we are seeking media coverage for projects yet to be thought of.

Who am I asking? You are simply going to seek out members of the media that are “applicable” to what you are doing. What does that mean? If you are a music band then obviously you wish to seek out people that cover music. Only it is not always obvious. If your band is contacting a newspaper you wish to seek out the music editor and/or a specific writer that covers your style of music. If the newspaper does not have a music editor then seek out Arts/Entertainment editor.

Seek out how? All media outlets have a website. If you are reading this information fifty years from the original publishing date then maybe you people do not have websites. That’s right I said “you people”. I am a “futurist”. In the future this word will come to mean “someone who is bigoted towards future humans”. Right, so all of these contemporary websites have a contact section. Many of them will list the exact person you are looking for with a way to reach them. If you don’t see this information on the site then call the phone number they provide and ask for the name/e-mail address of the person in the position you seek. They will give you this information. This applies to anything you might be doing. If you don’t see clearly who the person is that covers restaurant openings, ask.

Certain media outlets have more of an open format and can be contacted by all sorts. For example talk radio and Morning TV news/talk shows. With these types you want to seek out the producer (or segment producer) of the show you want to reach. Often morning TV shows have more than one producer. You can reach out to them all at once.

“Applicable” is important and again should be obvious but apparently it is not. I have been told by editors and producers about the countless irritating e-mail blasts they receive from people trying to promote things completely not in their wheel house. So don’t do that. If the thing you are trying to promote is regional then you do not wish to waste people’s time that does not cover your region. In other words, if you are putting on a live comedy show in Toronto, do not bother the media in New York just because they are on your media list. Don’t bother the sports editor about your Jazz CD. If your thing is not regional and has an online presence (like a crowd funding campaign) then by all means reach out to the world. But again, the theatre editor at The Montreal Gazette can’t help you with your campaign benefiting clean water initiatives in the Congo. I mean technically yes, this kind soul could help in some way if they wanted to...but this is not in their job description so it’s best not to bother. If you were however to write and stage a play in Montreal about this hypothetical Water situation in the Congo you will do very well. In regards to appealing to the Arts media that is some low hanging fruit right there.

There are media related companies that will sell you comprehensive media lists for most places in the world. There are also companies that will send out your information for you if you wish. This is up to you if you feel this is worth paying for. With a little time put into research, you can find everyone you seek without such a service. If you are putting on a Hip Hop Dance show then all the country music contacts you paid for are not applicable. But I thought you said “it never hurts to ask?” Shush.

If you live in a larger market it is quite possible you are not even aware of all the media outlets available to you. Simply search online for media in your city/region. Branch out beyond traditional media as well. Search for blogs, podcasts, online publications, and student media. There are also many cultural outlets that cater to specific cultural backgrounds and lifestyles. You may be someone who is thinking “But my name is John Straight-Male from White-Bread, Iowa. There is no such cultural media outlet specific to me”. Of course there is, silly. It’s called Fox News.

Steve and I have always been mindful to treat the person from the local school Newspaper with the same respect as the editor of the Toronto Star. Aside from abiding to this universal principal of treating everyone as you wish to be treated there is a practical element to this as well. Just like you the person writing for the school newspaper has larger desires. The consistent and persistent ones move on to the bigger media outlets. The bigger media outlets that you also seek. If you maintain a good relationship with these people as they excel you will become very happy for their success as you continue to grow and work together.

How am I asking? Initially via e-mail and always very nicely. That is intended to sound as simple as we could convey it without sounding patronizing. Personally, if we felt this was a difficult process we would have stopped doing this years ago. Sending e-mails are easy for me. Probably for you as well. For years whenever I would engage a member of the media for the first time I would ask them if they preferred to be initially contacted over e-mail or via the phone. I would ask this question over e-mail. Every single person preferred e-mail. I am aware some people may have resistance to this as you may have been taught that if something is important you should pick up the phone. Pick up the phone if you feel you must. [Consider this idea:] People that work in mid to large size media outlets can be very busy people. You may call them and catch them in the middle of infinite things and they may not have the mind set to focus on you. Likely you will find they will not answer the phone at all if they are not expecting you. I choose to respect the data I have accumulated from surveying these people and make first contact via e-mail. There is a time and place for a phone call and we will follow up with that idea later in a section aptly called “follow-ups”.

How busy are these people and why are you telling me this? Maryam Siddiqi (Former Arts Editor of The National Post) informed me that she would receive on average one hundred e-mails a day for media requests. Three to four phone cold-calls a day, and Ten to fifteen physical press kits a week. That is a lot of people trying to get her attention on a consistent basis. Add all of this to Maryam’s regular duties as a writer and editor and you have a very busy person. I personally start to get flustered if I have to respond to ten e-mails a day. All of this information regarding the volume of requests media people receive is not included to deter you from trying or to make any of this feel daunting. It is to encourage you to be nice. It is for you to imagine their perspective the best you can. In taking the time to do so you will naturally engage them in a kind and respectful tone. Hopefully just the way your parents and Jesus beat into you as a child. If you are already a nice person this information may feel self-evident. If you are not a nice person pretend to be and do this anyway. It will sharpen you into a high functioning successful sociopath.

[Consider this idea:] When I am aware that someone in the media is receiving over one hundred e-mails a day I wish for my name to be a positive reaction when it appears in their inbox. It would be very easy for someone like this to quickly dismiss my contact attempt if they have had a negative experience with me in the past. Even if it turns out they are not interested in what I am doing I wish to consistently be an easy, pleasurable person to deal with who is always respectful. This is because what I wish to discuss with them is important to me, but it’s not as important as what I will want to discuss next.

There are some people that have learned tactics that encourage them to “not take no for an answer”. You may be one of these people. In this scenario disrespectful persistence will indeed lead to you taking no for answer and you will continue to take it for a long time.

What exactly am I asking for? What do you want? There are many different ways to be covered by the media so it’s fun and effective to be specific as to what you are asking for. Let’s use an example of your favorite local newspaper. Your band would like to be covered by this paper but how exactly? If you are familiar with this newspaper you are probably already aware of the different kind of features it offers relative to what you are doing. You have probably come across an interview or a Q & A featuring a band similar to yours in the past. Is this something you would like for yourself? Ask for it.

We use the band example often because bands tend to perform often. The consistent ones perform often. Let’s say you have managed to secure your band at a local venue in a weekly time slot. When you become this consistent you may indeed wish to pick your spots as to when you really want to try to get the media’s attention. Sending weekly show information for listings is a good idea to reinforce the statement of your consistency. However it would be best to refrain from asking every week for media coverage. Save the asking for when you feel it would count the most. Examples being: Record release party, special charity benefit, one-year anniversary. Steve and I have been quite fortunate and very grateful to have been granted many cover stories without asking for it. We love and believe in everything we put forth for others to see, but I rarely ask for a cover story unless I truly believe in my heart that what we are doing is cover story worthy. We are grateful for all coverage we receive regardless of the size.

Can you put this all together in an easy practical way to apply the information so far? Yes. Once you figure out who you want to talk to in the media and what you want to talk to them about you are simply going to write a very nice introduction e-mail that will contain simple information that can be structured something like this: Hello Newspaper Editor/Writer (use their actual name)

My name is John Straight-Male and I am a part of the rock band “_______” who will be playing rock music at White-Bread’s favorite local rock venue “_______” in a few weeks from now. (Insert date of performance) Below this e-mail (below not attached) is the official press release of the event with all the information including multiple interesting story angles about us as well as links to our music, photos and other pertinent information. I intend on following up with you in a few days as I understand and respect how busy someone in your position can be. I really liked the article you wrote on that other band from White-Bread that is kind of like us and I hope to speak with you about potentially doing something similar.

Thank you very much, Me.

This approach works best if you have the time to send your information out to individual members of the media. If you have a very large amount of people to send your press release to then you may just send a quick note to everyone saying “Official Press Release for ______” I will follow up with everyone in the weeks to come. Thank you very much.

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