Exactly that, with emphasis on the budgie cage liners known as local papers.
So. You want some publicity? Here's how.
Local papers first, because there you're likely to find a bit of interest simply for doing this strange, newfangled thing they call pop music. That may not, however, be enough on its own.
Look at it from their point of view. What is there about your sound, your look, your local connections, your following, what-have-you, that makes you worth a mention, a picture, or a mini-feature?
What these people want is "an angle", that is something that will surprise and delight their readers. Usually, that means something like "The youngest member of a family of Penge light opera fans has formed a dangerous heavy metal band", or "Former Pendlebury centre forward Alan Spiggott has a new goal in mind — the Pop charts!". Yuk! On the other hand, even 10 years after the indie explosion, many local papers still think bands that put out their own records are unusual.
Don't expect them to approach you. While you're thrashing round the gigging circuit causing a storm of controversy, most journalists are either at the Drains Committee or drowning their many sorrows at the boozer while they wait for Lou Grant to come on. You'll have to pursue them. First read the paper. See if there's a by-lined music writer, and if so, there's the target. If not, phone the office, speak to the news editor and ask for the name of someone who might be interested.
Next get something together to send. A photograph, first of all. This needs to be big, black and white, in focus, showing you in action (if you can do a good sharp pic, which is tricky) or in some moody pose. This must be accompanied by a caption, with names, ages, occupations and all that stuff.
And you'll need to write something. If you can think up your own angle, then write your press release with that near the top. It sounds silly, even degrading, but the local paper is much more likely to be interested in the fact that your drummer's father used to play spoons in Sooty's Showband than it is in your musical direction. It's no use telling them you're a fusion of hip-hop and New Age music. Even if the journalists know what you mean, the readers won't.
So, that's it. Remember: a photograph, not a printed reprint of a photograph because that won't reproduce easily. If you need more copies, get them printed photographically from the original negative. If you decide on an angle to plug, make the photograph illustrate that. But put in a straight one, too, in case you meet one of those journalists who objects to being spoon-fed. And give them some words: a straight biography; a list of gigs; names of your best-loved songs; and that little story with the "angle" they can take or leave.
Most important: a contact name and a daytime telephone number. What about our record(s) and cassette(s), you say? Forget them, say I, they'll simply sit on a shelf or disappear.
Feature by John Morrish
Previous article in this issue:
Next article in this issue:
mu:zines is the result of thousands of hours of effort, and will require many thousands more going forward to reach our goals of getting all this content online.
If you value this resource, you can support this project - it really helps!