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Dealing with the Media!
by Billy Tweedie

One of the key stages of development for an aspiring band or musician
is using the media effectively. Knowing how to approach and access the media,
whether it be print, radio, TV or the internet, is a skill which can be
acquired through practice and by following some rules and guidelines.
This feature is designed to provide you with an overview of dealing with
the media through various stages, from drafting your first press release
to appearing on TV.

Developing Press Contacts

A list of press and media contacts is vital to help you communicate
effectively with  journalists. The list will be useful for: -
   - sending out gig listings;
   - mailing out press and news releases;
   - sending out demos and CD press packs.

It should be your starting point for developing an effective media
campaign. Don't forget to add your own contacts and to update the list 
every few months.
You may decide to put the information onto a computer. This has the
advantage of enabling you to update the list more easily. It will also 
allow you to print "sticky labels" for correspondence.
Press contacts fall into 10 main categories:-

      Local Newspapers
      National Newspapers
      Local listings and Music Magazines
      National Music Papers and Magazines

      National Radio
      Regional Radio
      Regional TV
      National Television
      Community Radio and Hospital Radio Stations, if in your area or
			country, as in UK.

Some press material can be sent direct to named journalists. For other
routine mailings it may be preferable to send press material to general
contacts - Editor, News Editor, Producer, Presenter - as journalists
move around. More than one name and phone number will be needed for some
newspapers and broadcast media.


Think carefully about how to target press and media outlets. Develop a
clear strategy that may start with the local press and gradually build
up to national media. Any work with the media should fit in with your
overall game plan / career plan.
Get to know key journalists and also keep in touch with freelancers who
write for a range of publications. Find out and respect deadlines for
listings, news and music features. Always keep your promise if you say
that you'll send information or phone a journalist.  Some local media
aren't interested in promoting local music, but others definitely are.

Find your most likely ally and write to them personally. Target other
outlets which are keen to feature local bands. Also think visually as
this will enhance your appeal to the media. Having a good picture can
increase the priority attached to a story or article. Photographs should
be simple, memorable and of 'professional' quality. Remember that some
print media use colour photographs, so target your visual material as

Don't oversell yourself and never waste a journalists' time by inviting
them to a gig and then forgetting to tell them it's cancelled. Don't
inundate a journalist with too much information. Try to strike a balance
between having too much and too little press material.  Targeting
national media is harder but look for opportunities to raise your


Try to understand what makes a good story, or a good feature for the
print or  broadcast media. Think about the newsworthiness of your story. 
The diagram below  "How a Story Gets into the News", 
provides some ideas for 'hooks' to attract media  interest-


There are several ways in which you con gain media exposure ranging
from basic 'what's on listings' to TV appearances. They include:-
	  Gig listings (radio or print media)
    Interview / band Feature
    Radio session (live or pre-recorded)
    Television coverage
    Radio airplay (new CD or single)


Media exposure is absolutely vital to the success of your band. Radio,
television and the music press can provide the launch pad needed to take
you from being 'just another local band' to real contenders on a
national level.

Everything helps and the local band media are easiest to penetrate.
Realistically it's  unlikely that an ecstatic write-up in the Local paper or a 
play on the radio is going to bring   record companies hot-footing to your door. 
But maybe the Radio play gets you wider interest. And perhaps the newspaper
review included in your press cuttings pack is just enough to make
someone listen to your demo all the way through, rather than turning it
off after 20 seconds.

A & R generally like some sort of reassurance that they're not wasting
their time.Also, any talent scout worth his/her expense accounts is going to be
aware of magazines and  its brothers and sisters around the country. So,
a favourable feature might just be enough to persuade an A & R scout to
pop into your gig next time he or she is in the area.

But it's the national media circus that can make or break you. The
right radio play or  music paper review and your phone will be ringing for weeks. 
So, how is it done?

First of all, target the audience for your CDs/tapes or press releases.
If you sound like Bryan Adams chances are Bubble gum pop magazines and
those type of pop radio shows won't be interested, but if you sound like
BackStreet Boys, they'll probably snap you up!

 If you are an unsigned thrash metal band called Disemboweled Toliet
Death Dogs, Girly magazines are probably best avoided, but Kerrang type
heavy rock mags may be interested.

When you've done your homework, written your press release (which
should have an  'angle', or 'hook' - ("Band does gig" / "Band records demo" won't 
cut it) and had your publicity photographs taken, it's time to make contact.

Network radio usually operates with a producer / presenter system and
tapes could be sent to either, or preferably both. If you don't know who
the producer is, call the switchboard and ask. For television, send to 
the producer or one of the researchers, whose names will appear on the end credits. 
Don't send tapes to presenters as they almost never book bands. You may also 
stand a better chance if you use a plugger to gain exposure for a single, but this can
get costly. It's also important to think about timing. Try to develop
your profile and a 'buzz' around the band before approaching national

Follow up both radio and television with a polite phone call. As long
as you have a name to ask for you will be put through. Don't get
aggressive or abusive if the tape hasn't been listened to or has been
rejected. Say you'll either ring back in a week, or forward the next
demo when it's ready. Keep the contact going if possible.

Music magazines generally have a staff list somewhere in the paper.
Decide which editor (Live Features, Gossip, etc) it is you need to reach
and send him/her your material.

Wait a couple of weeks and then call back. Journalists, like the rest
of us, sometimes don't get round to doing things and need a little prod.
Again, be polite and accept 'no' as an answer. Remember you need them
far more than they need you at this point, so don't annoy them,
otherwise they won't take your call next time.

Feel free to offer constructive suggestions through. If the Live Editor
says the paper hasn't got any writers in your area, tell him / her about any 
gigs that you might be  doing in different parts of the country where they do 
have reviewers. And don't forget that there may be dozens of other people doing 
the some thing. Whatever way you can make your band or story seem more 
exciting /interesting / different / newsworthy, the more chances you've got.

If you get a good live or demo review, drop the reviewer a line, care
of the paper, and suggest an idea for a follow-up feature. If the
journalist likes it they'll suggest the piece to the editor who will
certainly take the writer's enthusiasm into account. Again, the more
novel the approach, the more chance you've got. Good luck!

written by Billy Tweedie 2001 
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