The Seven Essentials to Writing A Press Release
It’s your connection to your audience: conveying your brand, your event, and your story
By Michele Wilson-Morris
Working in the music industry has its perks, privileges, and pains as anyone who works in it knows. No matter what your genre is, one thing remains the same for all artists: You need to bring attention to yourself, your music, and your events. And while there are several ways to do so, few are as effective (in terms of cost or exposure) as a well written press release.
Writing a press release may prove to be a challenge to those whose focus is solely on their musical ability and efforts, but it doesn’t have to be. There’s an art to writing a good press release just like there’s an art to making good music. In fact, a well written press release is simply you on paper. There are many tricks to the trade, and I’m going to share some of several of them with you: The Seven Essentials of Press Release Writing.
Essential #1: “Who, What, When, Where, and Why?”
A good press release must clearly convey who is doing what and when, where it’s happening, and why. Your target audience is much more likely to be responsive if you included answers to all of the above. When I write press releases for Mi2N-PRESS, I never leave room for “guesswork.” Plain and simple: If people have to guess about any information that should be included in the press release, then you haven’t done your work.
Essential #2: “Less Is More”
When you’re writing a press release and answering the what, where, when and why, remember that less is more. Not less information, but fewer words. Short, detailed sentences are best. Think about it. If you’re running from one performance to another, meeting with your agent, writing lyrics or music, talking with your promoter AND trying to squeeze 3 square meals, family, and far too few hours of sleep into your the day as most of us are, then you know that time is precious. Your press release should take into account the fact people are a lot less likely to read a press release that’s much longer than one page. As President Thomas Jefferson said, “The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do.” And if neither of those reasons convinces you, just know this: media professionals (like most of us) are fundamentally lazy. They don’t want to do any more research than they have to.
Essential #3: “The Early Bird Gets the Worm”
If you haven’t grabbed your target audience’s attention by the end of paragraph one, you’ve probably lost the opportunity to do so. People simply don’t have time to wait for fluff. If they want more information than what you’ve given them in the first paragraph about that CD that you are releasing in January, 2010 in Europe (because you performed live on a famous radio show and were so well liked, the rest was history), then you’ve put out a good “hook” and now they’ve “taken the bait”. Now you need to “real them in.”
Essential #4: “Thou Shalt Not Lie”
One thing that writers and music professionals are able to do is to quickly spot a press release that has been, shall we say “highly exaggerated”. It’s just as important to be known for being credible than it is for making great music. Submitting a press release that contains false or misleading information is just as bad as lip syncing at your “live performance.” If you don’t believe me, just ask Milli Vanilli.
Essential #5: “Spice, Please”
Use audio and video links whenever possible. While press releases are most certainly a business document, that doesn’t mean it has to be a boring document. Capture your reader’s attention with a photograph or an audio URL. People like to be entertained. We like our food, cars, and homes to be aesthetically pleasing, and we like our press releases that way as well.
Essential #6: “Quotes: He Said, She Said…
One way to infuse life into your press release is to incorporate a quote. Find a good quote that is relevant to your press release and use it. Remember the favorable press you received by that infamous reviewer who has critiqued your CD or been to your concert and written about it favorably? Dig it out, and quote them. It’s an endorsement of you and your music.
Essential #7: “In The Beginning…”
The title of your press release is especially important as it is the first thing one sees and the scale that will be used to measure their interest in actually reading your press release or moving on to the next one. A good title is as important as having an M.C. who can get the crowd fired up about you before you even hit the stage. It has to be both interesting and informative.
Obviously, a lot of work goes into writing a great press release. But it’s definitely within your reach if you utilize the essentials outlined above. With online marketing being more important than ever before because of social networking sites, blogs, and countless other sources of music buzz, you have to put your best foot forward with your press release. It’s your connection to your audience: conveying your brand, your music, and your story. It’s also important to have it distributed to your target audience and as many appropriate sites as possible within the industry. Choose your distribution service carefully. Make sure that they have a reputation for being a trusted news source and a large enough dissemination to make it worth your investment.
Quite applicable to this topic, I’ll leave you with this quote: “It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare; it is because we do not dare that they are difficult.” Seneca (3 BC – 65 AD)
Written By : Michele Wilson-Morris
Michele Wilson-Morris is a native of Birmingham, Alabama, and formerly the Marketing & Communications Director for Tag It, the former parent company of Mi2N and MusicDish e-zines. She graduated from Birmingham-Southern College in 1991 with a B.S. in Business Administration, and has held a variety of professional corporate positions since that time.