When you’re running a DIY PR campaign, there are a few crucial components that you have to get right: relationship building, strong content, timing, and impeccable email etiquette. It’s that last one that tends to trip people up right as they feel like they start to get their footing. After all, we’re a culture of abbreviations, misspellings, social media, and honestly most of us have no clue how to craft an email that’s professional enough to get the attention of editors and gain respect, while still being casual enough that it feels like a human being wrote it.
As a publicist and blogger I write and read a lot of pitches, and there are a few things I’ve noticed as stand out Dos and Don’ts of pitches over the years.
Let’s start with the things you should avoid doing:
Don’t send a mass email
Your pitches should be to one person and one person only. There’s nothing worse than receiving a pitch that you’re clearly BCCd on or worse CCd on (because by doing that you’ve just outed everyone’s email address, whether they like it or not.) This is especially bad form if you’re looking to premiere a track and offer it to 20 people at the same time.
Don’t be vague
If you want a review, say it. If you’re looking for an interview, be crystal clear. It’s not up to the blogger to guess what you want and as a general rule, the more vague you are, the more emails it’s going to take to complete this interaction, the less likely a writer is to want to work with you (or even respond)
Don’t pitch via social media
Unless the blog specifically asks for a pitch via social media, avoid it at all costs. No one wants to be bugged on their social media (especially the writer’s personal social media). Their inbox is overwhelming enough, and while you may think pitching via social media will help you stand out in a good way, trust me when I say it will always make you stand out in a bad way. Not only will it almost certainly not lead to coverage, but they’ll tell all their friends in the music and blogging community how annoying it was, which isn’t going to help you make any friends for future pitches.
Now, here’s a few things you’ll want to make a habit of:
Do make it personal
Writers get a zillion emails per week and the truth is that even if you do everything right, your email still may not get opened. (side note: this is why people hire publicists, for their existing relationships with media). So to increase your odds of getting a response, you want to connect with the writer in a very personal, authentic way.
One of the most popular ways to do this is to read, comment on, and compliment an article they wrote or an interview they did straight away. It shows that you’re actually paying attention and not just copy and pasting the same email over and over. This takes more time, but as I always say, if you’re not willing to take the time to properly understand who you’re pitching and invest in what they love doing, why should they bother to do the same for you?
Do include all your social media, website, and music links
I’ve had bands forget to include their music in emails. I’ve had them omit their social media, website, photos, and/or bio. All of this is important information for anyone making a decision on if they should write about you or not. Like I said, the more email interactions it’s going to take to work with you, the less likely the writer will be to pursue it. So, save yourself some time and make sure to include all those necessities right away.
Do read the blog’s submission guidelines
Not all blogs have them, but most will, and it’s important to take care to read and follow them. If you think I’m exaggerating the importance of a few minor preference differences across blogs, let me tell you that when someone submits to my blog and doesn’t include what I’ve asked for (usually I know straight away by the headline, since my guidelines require a specific one) I delete it. It doesn’t matter how good your band is, what accomplishments you have, or why you might be the perfect fit for a blog, if you don’t have the common courtesy to adhere to their submission guidelines, don’t expect them to want to work with you.
Do include what artists you sound like
I know, I know. You’re totally unique and you really don’t sound like anyone. But trust me on this. Just saying you’re a rock band or an electro-pop artist won’t get you anywhere. On the other hand, being able to pinpoint that you sound like 2-3 certain bands (or that fans of those bands would also like you) is going to be tremendously helpful to the writer in catching their eye and in the end, that’s a win for you.
Do keep it short and to the point
I find this can be the trickiest one to get the hang of. Too short and the writer is left wondering who you are and why you’re in their inbox and too long and the writer tunes out because who has time for that?
Finding the sweet spot takes some time, but in general I’d recommend anywhere from 5-7 sentences. It’s enough to give the blog a sense of who you are, where you’re from, who you sound like, what you want, why they should care (IE any major accomplishments) and links to all your socials/website/EPK.
You want them to know enough to connect with you and take initial interest without overwhelming them. Besides, the rest is what your bio is for. The email is just to hook them and get them interested enough to pursue a longer conversation. Keep these tips in mind, apply them often, and you just may see a drastic increase in the replies you get.