When it comes time to talk to a publicist about how to promote your upcoming album or tour, they'll likely throw around a few terms that may or may not be familiar to you. One of these terms is media relations.
What is media relations?
Media relations refers to the relationship that PR pros cultivate with members of the media on behalf of their clients. This could be anything from traditional media professionals – journalists, editors, radio hosts, tv broadcasters, and news anchors – to more modern means of exposure – influencers, bloggers, or playlist curators.
One of the biggest benefits to hiring a publicist to help launch your campaign is for their relationships and connections within the industry. While you can certainly reach out to these media personalities yourself, a publicist will not only save you time finding the right outlets to contact, they will also bring a level of report that they've built over the years, which can't be substituted by any amount of research.
How does media outreach benefit your music?
Media outlets like magazines, blogs, websites, radio stations, etc. offer your brand something called "social proof." This term was originally coined by Robert Cialdini in his 1984 book, Influence, and is also known as informational social influence. In short terms, it means that as people, we rely on other sources around us to inform our opinions – in this case, our opinions about bands and albums worth listening to.
Why do we read product or movie reviews? Why does no one want to be the first to dance at a party, or the first to clap at a performance or event? We wait for our peers to either guide or affirm our impulses and responses. The same thing happens when we discover new music...
While it's certainly true that people can find new music without the help of their peers or the media, we equate media publicity as power or endorsement. If a band is featured in Rolling Stone, we make certain assumptions about the quality of that band's music, don't we?
Getting mentioned in media sources helps artists build their credibility – with other bands, other publications, label, fans, etc. Essentially, that media source is backing up the music, so as listeners, we agree to give it a shot because we trust the source, and as artists, we seek their favor in hopes for the next album review or interview.
How do I get featured in the media?
Before you can even start this process, you have to have an established brand and a good product, not your unmixed demos or your last-minute Facebook page. Do the work on the front end or the media won't even touch you. Once you've started building a name for yourself, media relations is infinitely more valuable.
There are a few ways to get featured in the media. The first, as mentioned, is to hire a publicist. These PR pros have the connections and resources it takes to get you your feature slot in an efficient timeframe, most likely with a bit of favorable edge.
You can also do the research yourself. Just make sure you know who to look for, how to craft a good pitch, and be respectful of your contacts' time. (Quick tip: email is traditionally the best way to get in touch with media contacts. However, many of them are on Twitter as well, so feel free to get creative, but not too overbearing.)
There are creative ways to get noticed by the media as well. Start a social media campaign, find a unique hashtag to use, share and engage with a music writer's work when you enjoy it, and make sure to tag them! Find ways to engage with the current music world that also enhance your own brand and online voice.
Ultimately, media contacts are people, and their work is about starting conversations. If you can remember that, you'll be in good shape to start pursuing media coverage.