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A Music Publicist’s Actual Checklist for Pitching Press

When you’re a publicist, you learn that bands, managers, and product managers often think that all you have to do is call or email an outlet and voila! You book or confirm a feature or an appearance instantly. That snap-your-fingers scenario couldn’t be further from the truth. Pitching and securing press requires an organized plan of action, attention to detail, repetition, reality checks to be administered to a lot of people, and a whole lot of finesse. Plus, there needs to be the effective and efficient delivery of a pitch.

My good friend, mentor, and fellow publicist Jamie Roberts and I are happy to share this checklist for what goes into booking key print or online press, from choosing outlets, to pitching, to the steps we take to make it happen and see it through to completion.

Basically, this is the rundown of what we ask ourselves and what we do when pitching print publications where an idea grows from a seed to a mighty oak. After you read this, you’ll emerge with a better understanding and more respect for your publicist – past, present, or future.

The pitch
Ask yourself:

Is the magazine appropriate for band?
Have you fully vetted the appropriateness of the band for the outlet and the outlet for the band?
What is the desired piece? Cover? Multi-page feature? Review? The ubiquitous listicle?
What is the realistic goal in relation to what is desired?
What can you do to make this piece stand out and be a win for both the band and the outlet?
Is there an advertising component?
Who’s the best writer to do the piece?
Does that writer like this type of music?
Do they like this band?
Is there another aspect of the band that presents a pitch angle? If so, what is it?
Is the band ready to do an interview on the very angle that you’re pitching?
Does the band need media training on how to do an interview?
When you pitch, you practically write the story yourself: What will it say? What will the band be asked?
Then turn it into a game plan:

Do the work for the writers and editors. Give them a lot of info and deliver a pitch that will write itself
Talk to the editor and pitch
Talk to the freelancers/staff writers and pitch
If you get a “no,” then go back to the drawing board, try another angle, and go through it again until you get a “yes”
Find out if the publication requires an exclusive element or asset. If so, what? For how long?
Make sure no other department uses that element
Turn conversation into a commitment
High-five the band when you lock it in
The commitment
Schedule the interview. Be prepared to reschedule if it gets missed
Create talking points
Go over talking points with band member
Go over questions with writer… if he or she will let you
Find out when the piece will run
Match up social media teams to promote the piece when it runs
Plan a press release if it warrants that sort of blast
Remind other departments about exclusivity
Connect the call or supervise the in person. Remind the tour manager or manager about the interview if the artist is on the road
Reschedule if band member misses the interview
Do damage control if a band member says something dumb/bad
Do all the fact-checking
Provide photo or schedule a photo shoot, depending on the media outlet’s needs
Make sure the piece runs and isn’t pulled for whatever reason
All that… just to pitch press. There are a lot of moving parts and the publicist is the one juggling them all, including the grenades! Before you question a publicist’s efforts or dedication, it’s good to understand everything he or she is doing for you – even (especially) the parts you don’t see.