4 Simple Steps to Creating a Killer Press List
When I built my first press list, I put every small town paper on there, including journalists who covered genres we would never consider promoting. Since then, I've created press lists with 500 media contacts and ones with as few as 50. One thing I’ve learned is that your results with a small, highly targeted, and individualized list can be just as great as one that has every media contact under the sun. I’ve never believed in the "throw it at the wall and see if it sticks" approach. It's an inconsiderate use of time for everyone involved: the journalist, publicist, and band members. Today at Green Light Go Publicity, we ask ourselves these four questions before adding a new outlet to our press list.
1. Does the outlet currently cover bands at the level of the artist we represent?
This is the first question we ask before adding someone to a press list. Bands often want magazines like NPR Music on their list, but there aren’t any current coverage opportunities for an emerging band. Huge publications typically focus on the big-name artists, so to place the outlet on an up-and-coming band’s list would simply erode trust with the media outlet and the artist we represent, who's left with an expectation that can’t be delivered. We also have to ask ourselves how recently an outlet has covered an emerging artist, because media or a specific writer may change objectives over time. Early in Green Light Go's history we had great success securing press at NPR with their Second Stage feature. This was a feature focused on emerging bands who hadn't broken yet, but were worthy of a feature on NPR. Those opportunties are now few and far between at NPR. As a general rule, they are focused on bands who are already signed to a record label or have broken out.
Read: Less Is More: Why You Should Pitch Your Music To Fewer Publications
2. Does it cover the band’s genre?
Once we’ve determined if an outlet currently covers unknown or emerging bands, we'll look to see whether it covers the genre as well. We often have bands come to us with an agressive press list of where they want to be covered, most of which are outlets they've heard are influencers. As we comb through the lists, we'll find electronic blogs a folk band has requested or Americana outelts an indie rock bband has requested. Had we moved forward with those blogs we'd not only have wasted their time, we'd demonstrate we aren't that great of a publicist for not knowing what they cover.
3. Does it cover what you're trying to promote?
Let’s say we're working on an EP release for an artist. We're typically promoting a few singles and the EP release. We need to make sure we're adding people to the list who specifically cover EP releases and singles in some way. If we were to add contacts who only cover album releases or videos we wouldn't see coverage no matter how hard we try, because they simply don't offer that opportunity.
4. Can we piggyback off of similar artists or find additional angles?
As we further fine-tune the list, we take a look at similar bands to which our band has been compared or who we believe could interest the contact based on what he or she has covered in the past. We then go back through to make sure he or she also writes about unknown artists and the type of release or event we're trying to promote.
If we create a highly targeted press list in the beginning, it allows the rest of the campaign to go smoothly. We maintain the media contact's trust, we meet the artist's expectations, and we focus our efforts on what truly matters and achieves results. And, that is what I call a win-win-win.
Green Light GO: Make a list of blogs you want to cover you and start by searching whether they cover bands at your level.
After building your press list, you might want to think about how to make an amazing first impression to all of the media outlets you're going to be pitching your music to. Most likely, press is going to look at more than your music to gather this first impression. They might be looking at your social media platforms or your website to see what you're about. Are your band photos good? Do you have a captivating bio? Download our "Media Audit Checklist" here to make sure you are media friendly!