Monday, September 21, 2015

Check Your Calendar, Please...

It may seem logical to think it important to really, really, REALLY check your dates when planning an event or activity that requires publicity and coordination, right?

But life happens. As a result, busy people can - and often do - double book.

When working to get the various pieces in place to make sure the event goes smoothly, your public relations team usually plans from the scheduled event date backwards. In other words, targets for media release "send by" dates and the amount of notice needed for booking a facility or caterer are picked based on when your shindig is happening. Moving the date in either direction can cause a domino effect of chaos for your event planner and major difficulties for guests, viewers and anyone else who also has a schedule to keep.

Publicity requires a lot of ball juggling and includes anything and everything from sending guest invites to coordinating a social media campaign. If you didn't notice that your niece's bat mitzvah is on the same day as the launch for your new product because you forgot to check your calendar, changing the date could mean that guest speakers won't make it or the hall you wanted is unavailable - tantamount to an absolute disaster. If your PR specialist has even one other client (and most do), you've just wasted a great deal of his/her time by making him or her have to go back and re-do much of the tasks already checked off of the "to-do" list.

Time is such a precious commodity. Assuming your PR specialist has more of it to burn than you do is not good. Thinking that way will lead to frustration and is a definite way to make him or her vow never to work with you again.

When you and your PR specialist sit down for your initial planing meeting, the first thing s/he will probably discuss with you is the date you had in mind. Be as specific as you can - then come up with a few tentative dates to work with. Pencil them ALL in, then check with everyone you need to (co-workers, spouses, bandmates, babysitters, et. al) to make sure those dates are actually free before you decide definitively on the event specifics. And if you sign off on a date and find out later that it absolutely will not work, let your PR team know as soon as humanly possible. Be sure to add lots and lots of apologies as well. There still may be quite a bit of freaking out, but a total salvage is much, much easier when more time to make adjustments is given.

But the best way to avoid the panic and scramble is to plan accordingly and check your calendar. An ounce of prevention most definitely beats a pound of cure in PR land.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Why You Need a Press Kit

As a journalist who has worked in the newspaper business for almost 30 years, I can share this secret with you:

Journalists are busy.

It's not that we don't want to spend hours upon hours researching and writing - it's just that we can't. Especially in today's economic climate - when newspapers seem to be cutting staff every day and expecting the remaining staff to do more with less - your friendly neighborhood reporter has a lot to do during the workday. Because of that, s/he will not have the luxury of time - to pick information out of you or keep calling you back for more materials or details about your event, opening, new release or show. So trust me when I tell you that it's in your best interest to give them what they need to tell the world about you before they ask for it - because phoning to ask you for photos or emailing to find out when your band first got together can eat up time that many journalists just don't have.

And that's exactly why a press kit can be a creative person's very best friend.

Back in the days before electronic communication, press kits were often these big, bulky and somewhat expensive to produce glossy folder-using things that had to be mailed out. The more stuff you put in them, the more it cost to get it to that newspaper or television/radio station. And once you got it there, you couldn't be sure it was even going to be seen by the person you needed to reach.

The WWW and the advent of email and other forms of electronic communication changed all that. Now, press kits can be parked on a website and accessed with a simple mouse click, saving the marketer a whole lot of time and expense.

So what should the new version of your press kit - your Electronic Press Kit (or EPK) - contain?

Although it can include almost anything, there are a few things it should most definitely have:

A photo of a website-based EPK
  1.  A Bio - whatever information about you and your art you want the world to know about.
  2. High-res (300 DPI or better) Photos - of not only you/your band but of your most recent project (like photos of your paintings, a cover of your new CD or book cover).
  3. Links to your website and your work - musicians might include links to a Soundcloud page, where a writer might include links to her blog or sites where work is archived. 
  4. Videos - If a picture is worth 1,000 words, the power of a good video is worth 10 times more. Don't be afraid to visually illustrate what you do.
  5. Your contact information - it's important to let folks who might have a question, find out where you are next appearing or want to schedule an interview know how to reach you via email and phone.
Many contain more info - like fact sheets, past press coverage or even a press release, but all contain the above.

There are a number of websites that can help you set up (via template) or host your EPK, but it shouldn't cost you and arm and a leg to get yours done. If you are a strong writer (or know one who could help you out), it shouldn't cost you anything to get your EPK up and running. If you need assistance, drop us a line :-)