[Editors Note: This is a guest blog written by Fiona Bloom, publicist and founder of The Bloom Effect. Prior to running her own business, Fiona has overseen many careers including her time at EMI Records where she ran marketing campaigns for Digable Planets, Gang Starr, Shara Nelson, The Solsonics, Eternal and others.]
Artists are so concerned with the big picture that more often then not, they lose sight of the importance of acclaim in their own backyard. How could you possibly think you’ll conquer the world before conquering your town?
The great thing about local promotion is that you really get to tap into your community, build real fans, get into the trenches guerrilla style and network in the most genuine ways possible!
A long time ago in ancient history – well, the 90’s -every record company had a street marketing department, and there were street team companies being hired independently. In fact, my first gig ever in New York was overseeing the street promo at EMI/Chrysalis.
Are you ready to undertake the responsibility of getting visibility, building buzz, securing local media and having fun whilst doing it? Here’s how…
Get started early
So, you have a show coming up. First off, you need to make sure you have enough lead time to work the market. Keep in mind there’s a few mediums to work with. Print usually requires at least three to four weeks advance. For digital/new media, you can get away with two weeks advance.
Social media operates in real time, so while that can be instantaneous, it also needs some strategy behind it leading to the day of.
Radio needs about two weeks, and TV can be two to three weeks advance. It also depends on how much traction the event already has. Is there a big name attached to it? Or how about a sponsor? How many folks on your team?
Get visual with it
In this day when promoting, visuals are just as important as the music. A web flyer and print flyer are worth it if you can afford the investment. Your web flyer should be high-res (300 DPI) and should be captivating – a nice image and clean font and text with the who, what, and where:
– Line Up
– Ticket Price
– Venue Name/Address
– Ticket Link
– Partner logos
– Social Media URLS (you can create hyper links)
Hit all corners
I consider ‘local publicity’ now to be all-inclusive, meaning:
– Media – TV, Radio, Social, Print, Digital and Mobile
– Street Marketing — I still believe that physical flyers can make a difference and play a role in your success with getting the word out. It’s always good to identify a few drop-off locations, too, which would include record stores, the venue your show is at, tattoo shops, and other lifestyle outlets; and don’t forget about he library, and coffee shops.
– SNIPES/Posters — These cost a little more to manufacture and therefore you don’t need as many. 25-50 maximum will probably do, but please be careful if you’re going around the town stapling your SNIPES/posters to lamp posts, railings, trees, boards – you can get fined and that’s expensive!
– Club Promotion – If it’s a single or album, you can hit the clubs – promotion managers and DJs – they love vinyl, too.
The great thing about these ‘Best Practices’ in your market is that they can be applied to each city you play in.
So whether it’s a show or a video or an album you’re promoting, just make sure the visual/packaging matches your product and that it’s as clear and concise as possible.
Research your market
For print, find all your local outlets (daily papers, weekly’s, monthlys, glossys, college papers, bi-weeklys) and their respective web sites (digital). Make sure that if you’re a hip hop act that you’re not sending to a paper that just covers rock or alternative. Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and call them – the receptionist or operator can patch you through, or often times will give you the name of their music editor and email address.
You can also ask the venue that booked your show. They have their own media lists and are usually very happy to share these as it’s mutually beneficial.
I used to spend hours at Barnes and Noble before the internet and the advent of social media, going through tons of titles and looking at mastheads – writing that stuff down and of course buying a few ‘zines too so I was patronizing. You don’t need to do that anymore – it’s much more time efficient and effective now and it’s all there at your fingertips! Just don’t be lazy: do the work. You have to start somewhere.
You can also build your list and database from scratch. I did. Yes I may be into this 20 years but my rolodex/database is now 20,000 strong. That’s my bloodline, my livelihood and sure enough, my value. You’d have to pay me a sh*t load of money to sell it! Although, your lists are only as good as your relationships. Relationships are built over time, but the beauty about today’s world is that as long as your pitch (phone, in-person and/or email) is compelling, clear in message, and your follow through is impeccable, you’ll get responses the first or second time around. It’s presentation and delivery!
Make sure you service the music and entertainment editors, calendar editors, nightlife and music and features editors with a press release, publicity photo, the flyer and a short email; then follow up at least three or four or more times, depending on how soon you hear from them. Invite them to your show, (make sure you offer them guest list access if they’re interested in covering), and make sure to fulfill their request whether it’s a photo pass, back stage interview, live review and/or video cameras – those need to be pre-approved.
Your main goals for these outlets: ‘Preview’, ‘Calendar Pick’, ‘Best Bet’, ‘Item’, ‘Blurb with Photo’, ‘Feature/Interview’ and ‘Live Review’.
When pursuing radio locally, you have college/community, commercial, public, internet, satellite, and pirate stations to target. Again – do your research. There’s local market radio lists you can get on the internet and, in the case of an event, the venue will be able to share. You can also look at CMJ’s radio charts, Billboard, and other trade magazines.
You can send them music and offer ticket giveaways and artist interviews – at the college level they’re usually receptive to this if the time slot/DJ happens to play music that’s similar in style. Make friends with the DJs. They can champion your music and artistry and in turn bring loads of fans to your brand!
Internet – Blogs and New Media
Each market bloggers. There’s even micro-blogging, which is the likes of Tumblr, Reddit, and personal websites. Take advantage of all the tools and features you have at your disposal.
Know your audience here, too. Know that a blogger is often younger and doesn’t blog full-time, therefore they don’t have hours each day to update and there may be a delay getting back to you. Also in some cases they don’t want to necessarily be pitched — some bloggers prefer to discover on their own so you can ‘gently’ send them some music and mention the release and/or the show without it being a hard sell or push.
It should be easy, clean, short and to-the-point with all the links available on the email. No attachments and preferably photos should be available via Dropbox, WeTransfer, Hightail or other file sharing mechanism. Music should be shared the same way if they want a download or streaming link (Spotify, Dropbox, Soundcloud, YouTube, Bandcamp etc.).
There are event sites out there like Eventful, Fusicology, BandsinTown, Facebook, Meetup, Eventbrite, Yelp, and others. They all have ‘Submit’ buttons.
Depending on the reach and clout of a network, the main networks will be especially interested if there’s a charity angle, recognizable name or unusual hook/novelty. Targeting cable and video shows is the way to go. Once more: do the research. Every market has at least five cable and video outlets. You can pitch a live video session, interview and/or performance on a morning segment or other program. Send a short email, include links and practice lots of follow up. You can go their social handles and reach out there, and the phone is always suggested.
When you’re dealing with all these mediums and making contacts and building relationships, be as cordial, polite, concise, informative and engaging as you can – the more passion resonated, the better it’s received, and you’ll be amazed at the results.
Connecting with local fans
So now you’ve done your street marketing, reached out to radio, hit up print outlets, blogs, TV outlets, and event sites. Here comes the very fun part: engaging with your existing fans and reaching new ones via your social media platforms.
All artists be utilizing social media channels like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, SnapChat, and Instagram to tap into their communities. You can do targeted Facebook posts via paid ‘boosting’ and or running an ad campaign in your area. Make sure also to follow local venues on all their socials and interact on each.
Follow some of the brands and users they’re already following. Subscribe and leave comments on YouTube videos, and of course all whilst telling them about your upcoming event or release – you can add the link but in a friendly and open manner. Remember, it’s not a one-way street or about ‘Self Promotion’ on social media — it’s a dialogue. Think about reciprocity, giving back and being alive and vibrant! It’s called ‘social’ media for a reason.
Hashtagging works best on Instagram and Twitter. Try to use generic and a clever tag that nobody’s used. With Snapchat, you can create a whole storyboard of fun, clever, creative ways to get folks to pay attention and come see you live or meet you in person.
It’s amazing what you can do with SMS and messaging apps. You can send flyer visuals and nice short texts to friends in the area.
At the end of the day, everyone is looking to achieve the same thing: get as many eyeballs and ears to their music and art, and get as many of their fans to their shows! It’s not rocket science, but it does take a lot of effort and hustle. Please enjoy these steps, as I promise it will be less tedious, more faster-moving and you’ll actually be very happy with the results.