An Indie Musician’s Guide to Getting Featured in the Local Press
This guest blog post was written by Marcus Taylor, founder of The Musician’s Guide — a website that helps DIY musicians learn about the insides of the music industry, and download useful resources including music contracts and contact lists.
Getting featured in the local press is easier than you might think. Journalists are constantly on the lookout for interesting stories about what’s going on in the community.
Understand how journalist & editors think
One of the best ways to get your band featured in the local press is to learn how editors think – what makes them choose whether a story is newsworthy or not? What could you do to make them consider your story as a valuable addition to their paper?
Most editors and journalists use a set of ‘news values’ to determine whether a story is newsworthy or not. While these aren’t usually physical lists hanging up on the walls of editorial offices, several theorists have created lists to replicate how editors determine a story’s newsworthiness – the most popular of which was created by Galtung and Ruge.
Galtung and Ruge’s News Values
Negativity – Sad or negative news stories are often newsworthy.
Positivity – Positive stories are also very newsworthy, particularly towards the publications supported agenda (politics for example).
Proximity – Events that happen close to the publications audience are seen as more relevant.
Recency – Events that happened recently are seen as more newsworthy.
Continuity – On-going stories are often newsworthy.
Uniqueness – Events that are unique or shocking are of more newsworthy than events that happen every day.
Simplicity – Simple stories are easier to communicate than complex ones.
Personality – Stories that communicate on a personal level and affect the publications audience are more relevant than those that don’t.
Predictability – Unpredictable events are often more interesting than those that are predictable.
Exclusivity – Exclusive stories everyone interested in the story to a single publication, making the publication more money than if all publications were to feature the story.
Magnitude – Stories that affect a large number of people are considered to be more newsworthy.
Seven Ways to Get Featured in the Local Press
1. Donate Your Gig Earnings to a Local Charity
Working with local charities is a brilliant win-win situation – you help out your favoured local charity and receive valuable promotion of your band in return.
2. Perform at a Charity Event or Even Better, Host a Charity Event
Similarly to the point above, performing at charity events or hosting charity events is great for the community and you are likely to receive publicity for doing so.
3. Perform at Local Festivals and Venue Launches
Local festivals attract press like honey to a bee – if you can get on the line-up and arrange an interview talking about the festival then that can be a great way to nab a bit of coverage.
4. Meet Your Local Journalists
Journalists are biased to featuring people they either know or like. If you were wondering how to meet these people, I would start off by following them on Twitter or dropping an email to introduce yourself. Start attending events they’re attending or see if you can help them in any way – they might then return the favour by helping you out with coverage.
5. Do Something Out of the Ordinary
Most prominent local news stories (i.e. front page coverage) are reserved for the unordinary stories – the ones that make people pick up the paper in the first place. If you can conjure up some kind of PR stunt that will get your band featured by local press than you may end up getting some nice prominent coverage.
6. Offer your Opinion on a Topical Story
Although this technique is unlikely to get you ‘featured’ as such, it’s a great tactic for getting your name included in news articles. If for example you have just heard that a live music pub in your area is being knocked down to make way for a library, pick up the phone and tell them your thoughts – chances are they’ll put together a news piece around the story including a quote from you.
7. Tell Them About Your Success!
Local press want to include news stories about local individual’s successes – such as company launches, or local musicians achieving something big. If you’ve just had a video go out in front of 100,000′s or you’ve been shortlisted to play at a major music festival, tell the press about it! Alternatively, work backwards – what could you do that would be ‘big enough’ for it to qualify sending out a press release?