In part 1 of this post I discussed a few key points:
- Networking is a process of building a mutually advantageous relationship with other people, and not a way to manipulate people into getting what you want from them. Given that networking is a critical component in any success in any endeavor, it’s important to put some effort into doing it the right way.
- I also talked about the power of negative example and illustrated how somethings successful completion can often be tied to numerous factors but its failure is generally tied into only one or two reasons. Therefore in project management, it sometimes makes more sense to reverse engineer against failure (“This is what I don’t want to have happen”) instead of solely planning for success.
That Muse of Guitar
Some of you may be familiar with my interview/gear review/lesson series on Guitar-Muse.com With that in mind, I thought I’d write a little about my experience about networking with the media as someone who has conducted and given interviews and talk about some things that I’ve learned about dealing with the press taken from both sides of the isle.
Accentuate The Positive
In contrast to part one of this series, the list of things you should do in an interview is very short.
- You should always be professional.
- You should always respect people’s time
- You should always be prepared.
While the list is short, there’s a great deal that goes into every bullet point, so I’ll use the space below to hit some talking points.
A Tale Of 3 Reviews
The first tale
The first tale revolves an email from someone who saw my name in a review and then sent the following paraphrased e-mail (I couldn’t find the original in my in box).
“Hey. Here’s my new release. It’s great! It would be good if you could get a review of it posted in the next week or so. Also, I might be able to do an interview this week as well, but it’s pretty busy – so let me know.”
While a variation of this would be a perfectly appropriate email to send to your PR person on payroll, I never heard of this guy before. Or his music. I didn’t bother downloading the recording. I’ve never heard of him since the “request” either.
- Understand what you bring to the table.
Reviewers don’t work for you. If they’re professional, they suffer through a lot of dreck trying to get 500 words out at a time and live for the moments that the discover things that actually move them. They (generally) want to find new things but are innundated with content.
So while they don’t work for you, you (potentially) have fuel for their fire.
The second tale
In this second story, Jonathan Wilson, a friend of mine who created the awesome Togaman Guitatviol, had announced on his Facecook page that he had a new CD out. I had already interviewed him for Guitar-Muse and had played with him before so I knew what he was doing and was interested in the CD. I sent him a message and said that if he sent me a copy that I’d write a review. He asked what I would need and I gave him the parameters (mp3s and jpegs of the cover art). He mailed me the materials right away and when I sent him questions about the material and followed up with answers in short order.
- Be visible
If writer’s don’t know about what you’re doing, they can’t write about it.
- Be flexible and be prepared
Different publications will have different parameters for what they’ll want. Since many blogs pay for bandwidth they’ll want small jpegs or gifs. When I did an interview for an article in PW Magazine, the editor asked for headshots at 600 DPI and all variety of jpegs (none of which got used in the article). You can’t be prepared for every scenario, but you should have head shots, promo photos and cover art in a variety of formats in case people need them. Publications generally work on tight deadlines so when these things are asked for, you won’t have a lot of time to get them out the door.
The third tale
In another situation, I was contacted by someone who read an interview I did with a similar artist and sent me an email. He introduced himself, explained how he found me, explained why I might be interested in his cd and asked if he could send me a copy. He was sending the cd from overseas and the first copy never made it past customs. He sent e-mails every week or two and then sent another cd when it was obvious the first CD never came. He e-mailed sporadically and kept it on my radar. He also sent me a thank you note after the interview.
This is pretty much an example of everything you should do for a review.
- Be succinct
Don’t write an introductory page of material and make the pitch at the bottom. Get right to it. Here’s a sample outline:
- Polite introduction – explanation of why you’re contacting them
- here’s what I do/have
- here’s why it might appeal to you or your readers
- here’s where you can contact me
- thank you
If you’re writing someone for the first time, don’t skip any of those points. Especially the contact information and thanks.
- Do your research
Don’t send your metal cd to a Jazz website unless it has some very concrete jazz element to it. Read other reviews and interviews and target writers that may be sympathetic to what you’re doing.
- Follow up
This is pretty much the perfect amount of follow up. In contrast, I could point to the numerous people who just never responded to e-mails or the subject of the interview who was e-mailing hourly and finally building to more than 10 e-mails an hour with revisions. Either one of those is going to burn a bridge.
Research/Read. Write. Send. Follow up. Revise. Repeat.
Read other people’s press releases. Get a sense of what is out there. Make notes of what works and what doesn’t.
When you start writing to people, start from a position of being able to describe what you do in 5 words or less, knowing who you are trying to reach and why. Write as succinctly as possible but write enough to entice. The fan dancer entices an audience by the possibility of what they might see rather than what they actually do see.
Send and follow up are the same thing.
Revise your materials and your pitch.
The main thing with this is to build some inertia. You might spend days relentlessly editing materials for your first pitch, but after you’ve sent out a few dozen you’ll get in a rhythm and get your time down to anywhere from a minute to a 1/2 hour.
Also, be sure to be balanced and don’t get hung up on your current project. You always want to have a new project in your pocket as a goal on the horizon. And you’ll need to cross the bridges you build now for everything in the future.
Remember: The golden question of networking then isn’t, “What’s in it for me?” but instead is, “What’s in it for us?” Build relationships sincerely and without an evil (i.e. completely self serving) agenda.
That’s it for now. Perhaps I’ll fill this out with a part three at some point but in the meantime I hope this helps!