Why You Should Stop Sending So Many Press Releases

We have featured content from Lueda Alia in the past, and today we have the great honor of being able to share another advice column from our favorite Canadian. This article is written with publicists in mind, but there is a lot artists can learn from Lueda’s words as well.

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Last night, I came across an article titled “I Read and Replied to Every Single PR Email I Received for a Week” by Zach Schonfeld, which describes my daily, exhausting experience with my inbox(es) all too well.

Many years ago, reading press releases was the best way to keep updated with what was happening in the music world. Press releases were a godsend at a time when information on the web was limited, bands didn’t keep in touch with fans regularly, and more importantly, there were far fewer PR agencies around. But that time has long since passed. Most writers get ambushed by press releases nowadays, most of which are mismatched.

I realize that it’s impossible to keep up with every publication, zine or blog out there — hell, even as a reader myself, I can only keep up with maybe 3 or 4 on a daily basis — but that does not excuse making horribly misguided pitches to writers who do not care about specific artists, genres, or what have you. I couldn’t count the number of times I have received emails for hardcore or metal music — two genres I’ve never once covered in my entire career as an editor — by publicists who tell me, “I think you’ll really dig this band, Lueda!” No, I guarantee you that I won’t, and now you have wasted 2-3 minutes of my day that I could have spent reading something else in my inbox that actually interests me.

The worst part? Publicists who take the time to make pitches to the right writer get burned because someone less committed and far lazier has already wasted my time. I will go ahead and assume that I am not the only writer who can attest to this.

One of the first things I learned when I started doing PR was, “Do not send press releases to busy writers.” Who is a busy writer, though? Well, within the past year that I have been doing this, I decided that that essentially applies to every writer I know (or have an email address for, rather) because I realized that the overwhelming task of combing through a full inbox was not unique to me. It’s been a few months since I sent out my last press release, and I have since developed a different approach that involves:

1) Research

2) Appropriate target lists for each client

3) Personal emails

My approach is certainly more time consuming, but the results speak for themselves. I decided to apply my new strategy to the Arms and Sleeperscampaign, and what we have accomplished so far has blown us away: the single I blogged about last time, “Swim Team,” is now at over 52k plays on Soundcloudin just two weeks, and over 33k on a separate YouTube channel. Instead of sending press releases to 300+ writers via MailChimp, I decided to keep my target list under 100 and email everyone personally, often explaining why I decided to email them about this specific single/band/music. I have no doubt the email was ignored by many, but the number of responses I received was significantly higher than I’d ever received while using MailChimp, making the time spent getting organized beforehand and during the outreach pay off.

I won’t be doing things differently any time soon. What many people don’t seem to realize (or care about?) is that many writers do this “writing gig” on the side, and, often, for free — meaning, they simply do not have enough time in a day to read emails, let alone respond. When it’s overwhelming (if not impossible) for someone who gets paid to check their email to keep up, then perhaps it’s time to reconsider how media is approached, and how pitches are put together.

Is this strategy sustainable over the long-term? Only time will tell, but I refuse to send out press releases to a massive number of writers at once anymore. It’s a waste of their time — and mine.

Lueda Alia is a music industry professional and freelance entertainment writer with years of experience working directly with artists on the rise. She maintains a great personal blog, as well asMade Of Chalk (which we featured on this blog earlier this year).

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the Director of Customer Engagement at Haulix and host of the company's podcast, Inside Music. He is also a public speaker known for promoting careers in the entertainment industry, as well as an entertainment journalist with over a decade of experience. His bylines include Rolling Stone, Alternative Press, Substream Magazine, Nu Sound, and Under The Gun Review, among other popular outlets.