How to make your band famous

So you’ve been jamming with your best buds for a while now and you think it’s time people hear the awesome-ness that has been brewing in the studio. What you need (aside from quality music of course) is some PR. Public Relations or PR in short is all about bridging the gap between a consumer(listeners) and producer(YOU).

Here’s how upcoming Singapore bands can benefit from simple do-it-yourself PR tactics that can amplify the rock star in you.

Market research

Before you swim, you would want to know how warm the water is. This is where you study the environment where you’ll be setting foot in. Go to gigs and get to know who plays for which band, which promoter got them there, find out who the kind of people that go to these gigs are, and have a chat with them.

“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”

Even Rambo did some planning before he single-handedly stormed an army base, trust me. Arguably the most important part for a band, is to get your demos done PROFESSIONALLY. The emphasis on ‘professionally’ is referring to everything that comes with the definition of the word. Source out good producers whose recordings will reflect how amazing you guys truly are. Think about it, as a generic listener, how forgiving will you be towards demos filled with unclear vocals, accompanied by un-tuned strings and drums that may as well be using the rear ends of a rubbish bin.

Secondly, bands often overlook the importance of branding. This refers to how the band portray themselves online and this includes photos, your logo, stickers or anything that requires design work. Here’s a life hack, look for a friend who’s a student of graphic design and chances are, they’ll do it for a free meal because they could do with it in their portfolio anyway. Looking professional will only help others take your music more seriously.

“Bands tend to be more focused on the creative process of making music and often neglect the marketing/PR aspect of it,” Snakeweed studio’s bossman himself, Leonard Soosay told me. With that being said, by no means should you undermine the importance of creating the best music you can, it simply means that after finishing up on a mind blowing song, you are not done. It’s time to think of creative and effective ways for that song to be distributed.

It’s showtime

After countless hours in the studio with your producer, that tireless walk to look for the perfect spot for a new Facebook banner photo and all that chit-chat with promoters and musicians, it’s time to finally share the hard work. This is when your new songs are released and you engage with listeners. Platforms such as Bandcamp ,Soundcloud and Facebook are perfect mediums to engage other musicians and potential fans.

However, according to Roland Lim, producer, mix engineer and owner of Sync Studios ,“depending on online platforms alone can only do so much, you need to meet people, give out a sticker, flier or even your demo amongst other physical promotional tools. Everyone has a Facebook page and gets tonnes of invites to like a page every day so let’s not just do what everyone does and take it up to the next level.” Patience is not running high when people are checking their inbox and they have even less tolerance for notifications from unfamiliar sources.

Done all that? It’s still not quite time to kick back, relax and wait for the organisers of Glastonbury to give you a call begging you to headline their festival. This is the point when the band has to be more proactive than ever in spreading the word. Prepare a press-kit which contains a high-res photo, your logo, the song you have released and most importantly a little write-up about your band and start sending it out to all stakeholders. Stakeholders refers to anyone that can be of help to your band such as the promoters you’ve been talking to, music journalists and any other individuals you feel are influential in the industry.

After action review

If you have done it right, you should have a played a few shows by now and have a reasonable following on social media. With that, it’s good practice to have an after action review. Talk to as many people as possible who have heard your music, study your social media’s traffic and gather as many feedbacks as you can.

After that, sit down with your bandmates and discuss what you believe was done right and what should be improved upon. This doesn’t mean you should switch from playing indie to black metal overnight just because some of the people you spoke to liked it when you guys had that one short heavy guitar riff. It simply serves as a general guideline to how accepted your music is in the environment you’ve been playing in.

Conquer

it's 11:11

Playing in a band and having your music heard is not as simple as pressing record on a recording software and putting it up online. As Leonard Soosay says, “local bands with good PR and marketing strategies are the ones flying overseas to play shows and are conquering local airwaves”. No matter what your cause, getting your voice heard requires creative tactics and most importantly, hard work. Only when that’s done, should you let your natural talent speak for itself.

Pitching Etiquette – how to approach media

Ah, Public Relations.

It has its perks. Scoring a cool client, brainstorming equally cool  and creative ideas for pitching and marketing angles, meeting colourful personalities (some of them becoming friends), the satisfaction of successful event launches, and ultimately, seeing everything you’ve worked towards slowly forming into tangible results.

But there is a dark side, one that many journalists will attest to – the act of pitching a story for coverage. The frustration is understandable. The incessant hounding, incoherently written press releases, and overfamiliarity, can be off-putting, especially if you’re on a tight deadline.

Let us understand a typical day of a journalist’s job – having to sieve through mountains of emails and pitches for a headline-grabbing story, research, fact checking, interviewing multiple sources, transcribing those interviews, and having to complete at least five to six stories at the end of the week (or day, in some cases).

How do they find their stories if not through contacts, and long, in-depth investigations and breaking news events? Often, it’s because a PR person passed it to them, helped them find the right people to talk to, and ensured they had the right images and interesting angles. Despite what we might say about one another, journalists do use press releases for content, the relationship between media and PR is symbiotic – we need each other to survive in the industry.

I was once the eager beaver obsessed about clinching the cover story. I would follow up (pester) aggressively, and had no qualms about being pushy; not realising that I may come across as insincere and unabashed.

So how do we pitch with grace? There is an art to the delicate craft, which is all about the finer details – picking the right words, and getting the across the right message in the press release, actually knowing your client or brand to be able to convince editors why they’re worth writing about, and giving alternative angles.

According to Social Media Today, and my fellow Mutants, there are a few points to bear in mind for an effective email pitch.

Know your brand, and the journalist or publication you’re pitching to:
Mutant Directors, Joe and Jacqui, used to be journalists from The New Zealand Herald, who affirm that there is nothing more annoying then an “irrelevant” pitch, “Don’t pitch a fashion story to a Food Editor or Foreign Correspondent. Save yourself a bit of time and do a little research to make sure that you are speaking to the right person.”

Keep it Short and Simple:
“Brevity is the soul of wit” – Keep to the point and get your message across clearly with minimum words.

Bullet points:
It can’t get any clearer than succinct, concise, and factual bullet points – a journalist’s dream.

Tone:
Nabeel, Mutant’s Communications Assistant, says that adopting a friendly tone when speaking with journalists on the phone helps, “Also be clear and stick to key points when explaining the reason of your call.”

Personalisation:
This is where ‘relationship building’ comes to play – make it a little special and address them by their names. Writers know when it’s a generic cookie- cutter blast. Make an effort to know them, and make small talk about an article they wrote on this week’s paper.

Jacqui says that it helps if you sincerely get along with the writers. Meet them up for coffee or lunch, “I feel more compelled to read an email from someone whom I’m already familiar with. Don’t bribe, or be too needy – be natural, as you would with a friend.”

According to Hunter PR blog, they loathe the question, “So have you read my email?”, so try an alternative approach when following up – offer new and interesting angles, or try and tempt them with……

Giveaways and Freebies!:
You don’t have to force things down their throat for coverage, there is a more passive and effective way for them to relate with your product or client, and offer their readers a reward. Have them review it; send them samples, run competitions and giveaways for their readers.

Following Up:
Daniel, Mutant’s Content Manager, thinks that following up in a timely and tactful manner will do wonders, “Give it a few days before calling to follow up. Be confident and prepared for whatever questions that may be thrown at you.”

Pace your flow of information:
Going back to the first point, keep your message short and simple – don’t reveal too much and try to whet their appetite. Once they bite the bait, furnish them with more details.

Journalists everywhere will start thanking you for this. (You’re welcome!)

Need help with pitching? Drop a message to [email protected] 

Social Media – Threat or Asset?

Social media and breaking news

Social media is becoming or has become a part of everyone’s life – even the aunties and uncles have embraced it, despite their misgivings.

Unfortunately, the aunties and uncles were right, as many do turn the freedom social media brings into a stage for their mischief. In recent months, there has been a tremendous increase in the number of hacked social media accounts – most recently the tweet by ‘AP’ announcing explosions in the White House.

Perhaps motivated by the movie ‘Olympus has Fallen’, the hacker has decided to bring the plot alive in his own ways. He hacked into the twitter account of The Associated Press (AP) and tweeted the above. The impact of the bogus tweet is shocking. The 12 words tweet drove the Dow Jones Index down 145 points and sent the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index reeling, wiping out US$136 billion.

The threat of hackers always exists in the world of Internet. However, there is no ignoring the fact that the fastest, cheapest and often most cost-effective way to achieve global coverage is, for most companies, social media.

Michael Gass, a new business consultant for advertising agencies said ‘Social media is a savior not a nemesis, an asset not a liability, a time saver not a time killer for ad agency new business.’

Hence, practice good working habits, and just make sure you account cannot be hacked.
(1) Limit 3rd party access
(2) Change password early and often
(3) Avoid Malware
(4) Log in and log out with care
(5) Check on your account regularly

We’ve all heard this.

But, if you’re a big shot…

Never before have so many people heard, screen-shot and shared, what you just said.

Need help with your social media? Drop a message to [email protected] 

Social media for journos, and journos for social media

I was going to write something about Facebook’s new open graph announcement, and how it seriously compromised my own privacy.

But then I started thinking about the wider applications of a search function that basically allows you to delve into the lives of others, pick out their ideas, pictures, comments, and then splash them about wherever you desire. On the cover of a magazine, as the star of the latest hilarious montage on Buzzfeed

My conservative, Western upbringing feels a bit queasy about the whole “what’s mine is yours, what’s yours is mine, unless I tell you otherwise” proposition, but how awesome is it to know that every single person in the world now has the ability to sway, or contribute to the mainstream news, and to be discovered by millions of people who might be looking to connect with people who are doing exactly what they are doing?! PRETTY AWESOME!

Journalists – whether they are searching for an unflattering image of a celebrity, a profile shot of the victim of a recent tragedy, or simply collating people’s images of the latest freak snow fall – will LOVE on this open graph concept.

And at the same time, businesses, brands and people will THRIVE if they apply journalistic skills of story-telling and news values to their posts.

Many experts have touted 2013 as the year that journalists are employed as social media page managers for companies looking to achieve cut-through online.

They have also said that journalism will become increasingly reliant on social media.

It would seem the new Open Graph feature fulfills this prophecy, and will also open more than a few doors for businesses, and journos alike.

Want to find out about how your business can maximise the potential of new features on Facebook and other social networks?

Need help with your social media? Drop a message to [email protected] 

Managing Multiple Twitter Accounts

It’s not uncommon for most of us to have more than one Twitter account these days. If you’re in media/PR/marketing, you highly probably would be tasked to now handle the Twitters of your company or clients as well.

There are several apps out there which lets you effectively log into and manage multiple twitter accounts at one time, and Mashable has a great list to kick you off.

Too many apps in the webosphere? These Twitter management tools top my list:

WEB-BASED

1. Hootsuite

I swear by HootSuite. It’s easy to use, and the tab features make toggling between accounts an absolute breeze. Tabs are awesome. This app also lets you integrate other Facebook, LinkedIn, Foursquare, Google+ and WordPress. But if, like me, the thought of having too many social media platforms on one app makes your brain freak out, then I suggest you stick to just Twitter.

Also, the logo is an owl, and I love owls.

2. SplitTweet

Another web-based app that I like is SplitTweet, mainly because the ninja-mole logo is cute. This tool also tracks brand mentions to let you better able to monitor your brands. Your accounts are also separated by coloured dots, so you can view all your feeds from all accounts in one timeline. Coloured dot or not, it can still get a tad confusing. HootSuite still wins for me. But cute ninja-mole logo.

MOBILE

The official Twitter app is actually really good for multiple mobile Twitter account management. These other Twitter apps havemy seal of approval too.

1. Slices (Love this, they have an in-built photo editing feature)

2. TweetFire

3. TweetDeck

4. HootSuite

5. Twitterific

Now, the thought of handling multiple Twitter accounts while on-the-go frighten me much. For starters, I can’t help but think of the possible consequences of accidentally switching Twitter accounts, especially when you’re on the go.

Think I’m a paranoid crazy piece of work? Imagine this now: In one of those late night, uh, stupors, you accidentally tweet something NSFW onto the wrong account. The horror. And we all know in the age of print-screening, there’s no such thing as take-backs.

So if you’re as paranoid as I am now (you’re very welcome), here’s a simple solution: Use different apps for ONE twitter account, as opposed to using one app for multiple twitter accounts.

And there are a lot of Twitter apps too, so unless you’re handling a hundred Twitter accounts (I’ve just fallen in love with you, call me), you’re good.

Facebook Still Most Preferred by Marketers

These days, your business just isn’t cool if you’re not using some form of social media. A report done by the guys over at SocialMediaExaminer.com revealed that amongst marketers, Facebook still remains the top of the social media pack.

The top five social media networks/tools used by marketers are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, blogs and YouTube, in that order. A whopping 92% of marketers use it to enhance their businesses, and 72% plan to increase activities on Facebook. And it comes at no surprise too; with 955 million monthly users and 852 million daily logins, Facebook remains the most frequently checked website on the Internet.

The Social Media Marketing Industry Report 2012 is the fourth annual study done by SocialMediaExaminer to understand how marketers are using social media.

Also particularly interesting was the addition of the Photo sharing sites category in the report. 21% of marketers are using sites such as Pinterest, Instagram and Flickr to boost their businesses.

The study coincides with a more recent study done by RichRelevance, which is an analysis of nearly 700 million shopping sessions on leading U.S. retail sites. The study revealed that Facebook dominates as a source to drive traffic to online retail sites. Shoppers who click-through from Facebook account for the overwhelming majority of shopping sessions at nearly 86% (85.8%), followed by Pinterest (11.3%) and Twitter (2.9%).

While Facebook still rules, it’s clear that photo apps like Pinterest are gaining popularity too, marking the rising trend of visual social media marketing. Photos do speak a thousand words eh?

Oh, RichRelevance has a cool infographic on their study too, check it out:

[ViaAllFacebook]