[00:00:19] Speaker A: Everybody, and welcome back to the Music Industry 360 podcast. I'm your host Vanessa, and today we're going to be talking all about how to reach out to press. Basically the tips and the no no's that you should take into consideration when you're reaching out to press. So our special guest today is Ray Roa, who is the music editor with Creative Loafing. So. Hi, Ray.
[00:00:38] Speaker B: Hey. How's it going, Vanessa?
[00:00:39] Speaker A: It's going great. Thank you so much for coming in and doing this with us.
[00:00:42] Speaker B: Thank you for having me.
[00:00:43] Speaker A: So if you could just give our audience a brief career overview of your role with Creative Loafing or even just what you've done in the past, too, what brought you to where you are today.
[00:00:53] Speaker B: Right on. So currently I'm entering my third year of being the music editor at Creative Loafing Tampa.
Before that, I was a freelancer for CL Tampa for probably about five or six years. My editor moved to Seattle, so I was lucky enough to interview for her job and get it. At that same time, I was freelancing. I was also freelancing regularly for the Tampa Bay Times, writing about live music and also working on a website founded by Joel Cook, who also founded Reacts magazine way back in the day. But that website was called Suburban Apologists. So all in all, I've been writing about music in the Bay area for, I don't know, almost a decade now. Probably the better part of eight years.
[00:01:32] Speaker A: Wow. So, yeah, you are named to be recognized. You're a musician.
[00:01:38] Speaker B: I don't know. I think most of all my job is to try and keep up with the local scene, like not just concert announcements, but the local artists and kind of highlight the good work that they do, which is impossible because there's so much good stuff coming out. But it does get easier if they send me clean press stuff.
[00:01:56] Speaker A: We'll get into that too. Yeah. All right, so we'll get into our topic then. So, like I said, we'll be discussing basically tips and tools and what to do and what not to do when reaching out to press. So, Ray, the first question I had is so what are some no nos that you'd see happen a lot that people just a lot of mistakes that people make when submitting for know, obviously.
[00:02:17] Speaker B: Everybody has their own method or whatever, but I know there are things that will stop me from either even opening an email or reading through one.
A lot of times, if it's about a show and there's no info on the date, I'm kind of against attaching anything to an email, press releases, things like that.
If you're going to attach something, I would say put a link, but really all the information should be in the body copy, at least as far as I'm concerned, and just real laid out basic, like, right in the beginning, and you can expand further down.
[00:02:53] Speaker A: So do you get a lot of people who have really long titles or use like all caps in their titles to try to get your attention?
[00:03:00] Speaker B: I don't really mind the all caps long subjects are iffy I mean, if it doesn't fit in the screen and I can't read it, I'm probably not going to open it unless it's from somebody I know.
So although there is one publicist out there, Jamie Coletta, who's really good with her subject lines and they're always kind of clever, they're always short, but I open up a lot of her emails also just because I know she works with bands that are great. But yeah, I just keep everything simple.
I don't think you have to try to trick a press person in the email into opening through a subject line. I think it's just all about the content that's in there. I see every email I get as long as it's not landing in spam. So I either have to archive it or delete it, so I'll see it. Just make sure the subject is just relevant and to the point, I would say.
[00:03:50] Speaker A: So how many do you get? Like a rough estimate?
[00:03:53] Speaker B: If I leave my email unchecked for a week, I'll probably get in between 1000 and 1500. So that's where I kind of have this rule where if my inbox gets to 100 or 150 during the day, then I'll kind of go through and try to keep it underneath that. But 100 is a good one to keep the anxiety low. So yeah, there's a lot of emails, but I've also been writing for eight years, so my email has been passed around and distributed on many lists, which is cool, I mean, I'm okay with that.
[00:04:22] Speaker A: Yeah, I had that happen to me actually, where I'll start getting single emails about a new single or a new video. I'm like, I didn't get added to the I didn't actually add it to this, so I'm sure you get that a lot too.
[00:04:35] Speaker B: And I'm totally okay with it. I love making connections. Obviously I write about what's going on locally, national artists coming through or a local artist. So I always revisit emails if I have to.
I like building relationships.
[00:04:49] Speaker A: So back to the email content. So you said not to have large attachments, just have it in the body. So is it best to just have just text and that's it? Like what, where, when?
[00:05:01] Speaker B: That basic text is super important.
[00:05:03] Speaker A: It doesn't have to be colorful, all that stuff?
[00:05:05] Speaker B: No, I'm not too concerned with that.
We have a print product that we put out every week, so I'm always looking for high resolution print ready photos that are the right size and I would recommend not attaching those, but instead just having everything like a link, like a dropbox in the email. Put here's a dropbox link to literally all my press photos, a bio. You can download a private stream like even if you're sharing music, attaching an MP3.
I'm probably not going to download that and listen to it or listen to it in the window just because I have a ton of other windows going on. So if there's just a link that says, here's a private stream, feel free, I'll definitely click on that. If it's an album advance, I'll click on it and listen to it while I'm working. But I almost never open attachments.
[00:05:59] Speaker A: Okay, so basically get straight to the point. Don't attach large files and attach links like Dropbox or Google Drive to make it easy for you to just review it.
[00:06:11] Speaker B: Basically, yeah, 100%. Just put that link in there and I think it's really helpful. And I can't tell you how many times a print deadline will come up and I have to exclude an artist's picture just because I couldn't find a picture that was the right size or suitable for print. So if you still care about seeing your picture in print, I would say have those print assets ready.
[00:06:31] Speaker A: So if it's like an artist reaching out about their single, do you have a list of what they should list in the body?
[00:06:39] Speaker B: Yeah, I mean, totally. So let's just frame this in the context of a local artist putting out a single or maybe a national artist coming through who wants to say something about their single. I like when there's a quote about the single in the body, some kind of statement that I can use to add context to a post about the song. Okay, so the artists that are really good at that, they'll send me, here's the name of the song, blah, blah, blah, and here's why I wrote the song and stuff like that. Quotes that I can pull from use in a post.
There's just no more time. Right? So you're always just rushing to do stuff, which is unfortunate, but if I can get those quotes in there, then I can use that, right? And then maybe I won't have to do a follow up or I can build off that quote that you provided and ask one more follow up and really get some good context in there and get a post that is respectful of the art that you created and the thing that you're trying to do. And if it's related to a show, make sure the show information is in there too. That way we can talk about the single, talk about the show if we're premiering a track, have the private embed codes ready, figure out what if you're using bandcamp, what sites need to be approved for exclusive embeds and things like that.
[00:07:54] Speaker A: Okay, so releasing a single. So you would like the quote about it probably a link to the album art and then link to the or.
[00:08:02] Speaker B: Like just when we say art, just any assets. Yeah. Artist photo.
[00:08:06] Speaker A: Yeah, artist bio. And then the links to where like you're saying the embed links.
[00:08:10] Speaker B: Yeah. And you can say stuff about yourself in know and just be like, there's even more stuff here at this know. And for mean, if it's having to do with Tampa Bay, then I'm that much more interested.
[00:08:21] Speaker A: Now when people reach out to you, you obviously can't respond to every single one, right? So if you do find one that you're interested in and you need more info, how does that work? You just respond back and like, hey can give me this info. And then do you send like a rough copy of the article to the artist to approve or the manager to approve?
[00:08:38] Speaker B: So stay in that van. Let's say we like working off a single. If it's single that's not announced yet and you tell me the date it's coming out. I'll normally ask if you have a premiere home. I like to do premieres and share music before it comes out.
I think it's a cool way one to get our website out and also just for our readers to learn about another artist in a way that's different from because nowadays you can just post your single once it's out on Facebook and whatever. So what can we do as a newspaper to add context to that and make it more meaningful? So that's what we're trying to don't. I always kind of run quotes by artists, but it's kind of a policy not to send the article to the artist for review before we publish it, right? If I have some questions about some factual things or I need to clear up a quote, I definitely send those over and I'm like, hey, is this exactly what you meant? This is what I have you quoted as saying, so I will send that. But no, we won't really send the article and say, this is what we're going to put.
[00:09:36] Speaker A: Are you okay with you're doing them a favor anyway?
[00:09:38] Speaker B: I don't know if it's about favors. It's just like just respecting the integrity of because at the end of the day, my job is to tell every side of the story, right.
I don't want to give something to an artist and have them be like, hey, I don't like this part about like, can you leave it know? I'm not trying to trap anybody or anything like that, but I mean, I have to be fair to all sides, you know what I mean?
[00:10:06] Speaker A: Do you ever have anybody reach out afterwards and ask you to edit?
[00:10:10] Speaker B: Yeah, I'm pretty sure. Like Talib Quelly hates so his PR company, which is great. I'm trying to remember girly action. So Talib always gets in these fights on Twitter, and he was playing this festival here at Coultura and we're interviewing him, but he sent out this press release saying that he was blocked on Twitter. So I put it out there. Long story short, he was angry at a white supremacist, rightfully so got into it. He got blocked. The white supremacist guy was banned, but he was upset, and we ended up getting lawyers contacting.
So the white supremacist lawyer contacted us, threatened suit.
We added the lawyer statement, which Talib was not. Okay.
Um, and we drew the ire of him for a day. And it was unfortunate because you don't want to have that exchange, but trying to that's exactly the case. Like, here's what the lawyer said, here's what you know, we offered him another statement, but I think at that point, he was over us.
[00:11:13] Speaker A: That's like a worst case scenario, though.
[00:11:14] Speaker B: That was pretty bad. That's pretty low point for me. Yeah.
Just because you don't want to get into it with mean, I don't know. I had to unfollow him on Twitter because he tweets so much. But yeah, it was unfortunate. But that would be the case where we reported what it said. We were contacted by the offended party, and so we added their statement. And I think that's what Talib was upset about was that we gave that guy a platform in a way understandable, but it's not something that we could take out.
[00:11:43] Speaker A: So and then my last question on that subject, do you get people that send you, like, word for word, hey, can you publish this article, like, and.
[00:11:51] Speaker B: Just copy and paste 100%? Yeah, obviously, that's like, a great situation. Like, if you get a press release that is constructed like a news article and I can just adapt it, and that's really the best case scenario. It's kind of poor reporting to not add more context. But in a pinch and on the fly, if all the information is there and correct, there have been times I haven't cut and pasted a press release directly, but it's probably been like 50 50 or even more towards just the press release copy, just because everything is so clean formatted correctly, everything spelled right. You know what I mean? So it's just easy. So that has happened.
Yeah. People have asked to run things in full, but I don't know. We haven't done that.
[00:12:34] Speaker A: Okay.
[00:12:35] Speaker B: Yeah.
[00:12:35] Speaker A: So that is convenient for you then, for them to do, instead of sending this, this and this, actually send the full press release 100%.
[00:12:42] Speaker B: Or they could just say, hey, here's the link to the full press release. This morning, I did some no attachments right on the Florida Orchestra, and I opened the press release another window and took a few sentences out of there, added some context, and it was all there.
[00:12:55] Speaker A: I saw. Was it for the Star Wars?
[00:12:56] Speaker B: It wasn't the Star Wars one, although we did write about Star Wars, and that's going in Thursday's issue. It was about their free concerts at Armature Works.
[00:13:03] Speaker A: Oh, yes.
[00:13:04] Speaker B: Yeah. But that was just all the information was there, and I was able to make a post very easily, so that was nice.
[00:13:10] Speaker A: All right, so after you receive it and you're ready to go and you write an article, do you have it sometimes happen where you get no attention, like it just doesn't do well?
[00:13:20] Speaker B: Yeah, I mean, that happens, and that'll happen sometimes you'll write something and it doesn't pick up. Maybe it's the wrong time to write about it. Maybe people had other stuff on their mind. World events happen, take attention away.
And that's frustrating. But I mean, the whole thing of publishing, it's experimentation.
What happens more often, unfortunately, is that the artists won't hear back from me after they send any.
[00:13:43] Speaker A: That's what they ask. What about the other side of the spectrum?
[00:13:45] Speaker B: And I know that's frustrating because you put all this work into a press release and you do really good job. Some people do a better job than others, but no matter how good of a job you do, not every press release is always going to get attention.
And I know that that's frustrating sometimes when somebody won't hear back from me, but I personally don't mind if people reach out a couple of days a week after. I'm perfectly okay with telling somebody, that, okay, I get it, this is good, we're good, or I'll pass on something. So I'm fine with saying that I'm going to pass, but I'm okay with people following up. I mean, unfortunately, with how busy it gets in the newsroom, I can't get to everything, or I'll start something, but I appreciate people being on me and always following up. So it's very helpful.
[00:14:30] Speaker A: All right, so since you do get so many requests daily, so when is an ideal time to contact you? I'm assuming they shouldn't contact you the.
[00:14:39] Speaker B: Day before the event happened 100%.
Just put it this way. We'll do this in the context of the print paper, right? We send the paper. The deadlines are like, a week before the paper goes. So at a minimum, I'd like to have seven days. But that's just reacting on the spot and getting it in there. Two weeks is probably ideal. I've always told or asked artists, hey, once you know you're starting something, just let me know, because I want to be in on the process. I want to know if I can go in the studio with you and take some photos or just talk to you about it and know how it's going. I like knowing what people are up to. So as a local artist yeah, right. When a project starts, let me know. You can tell me stuff off record.
You can tell me as much as you want, and that way it'll keep me plugged in. It keeps me on my radar.
But at minimum, two weeks for an event is good.
But I like to have the longest lead possible because I'll put it on a content calendar, and I know it's something I want to cover.
[00:15:41] Speaker A: Yeah, it's the same way on the distribution side, too, when someone, if they want us to pitch something for a feature. Like, we actually say fill out this feature form or submit it at least 21 days before the release date. So that gives us plenty of time to pitch and follow up and all that stuff.
[00:15:56] Speaker B: Even 21 days isn't enough time.
[00:15:58] Speaker A: Yeah, I mean, it's just even a month out because I told you, I work with video distribution, and I usually tell clients that if it's their first video release that they really should submit it a month before their release date so that we can get everything established. And then we can also start getting a pitch for them to, like, Vivo and Tidal and itunes and all that good stuff. So it's across the board. You got to give a person time to review everything and get it scheduled.
[00:16:26] Speaker B: And that said, if you send one a clean package and say, here's a single I'm interested in doing, here's everything you need, it'll probably go up quicker, especially if there's a break or a lull in that content schedule where it'll be like, hey, I can definitely get this up in a day.
[00:16:40] Speaker A: Do you ever have it happen where something comes through and it may work for you, but do you have recommendations that they also send the press release to?
[00:16:50] Speaker B: Yeah, I mean, that happens, you know, obviously we like to stay local, so if it's a national artist pitching me from California about a single that has nothing to do with Tampa or Tampa Bay, I'll often be like, hey, are you touring? And they'll be like, not right now. And I'll be like, hey, why don't you hit me up if you're coming through? And that way this would make more sense and we could write about you. And then so if I know of a blog or a podcast or a website that would write about it, I'm happy to share all those content. That's one of the best things about having eight years, whatever experience.
I've seen a lot of stuff and I've talked to a lot of people, so I can recommend stuff like that. It might not make sense for me, but maybe you could talk to Cigar City Podcast or somebody else locally that covers national stuff that's nice to be.
[00:17:43] Speaker A: Helpful like that, instead of just outright like, no, this won't work.
[00:17:46] Speaker B: I mean, I do that, too. Don't get me wrong. I don't mean to be, like a jerk about it, but it's like sometimes it goes the same way. I know people can see when you open the email, and I feel bad because it's just an open email and they don't get a response, but sometimes you just can't do it.
[00:18:01] Speaker A: Yeah, you can't write a detailed response every single email that you receive. You wish you could, but like, yeah.
Do you have any other tips that we may not have covered that you'd like to let artists and managers and anyone really know when they're reaching out to press all right.
[00:18:20] Speaker B: I'm going to kind of think out loud and try to do it in segments. So some things we might not have hit.
I can't reiterate that I understand how frustrating it is sometimes to not get a response to a press release, especially one that's done really well. So I would just say, definitely just keep following up. Don't be afraid to follow up.
Ask the person you're hitting up if you're following up too much. I'm pretty transparent. I'll be like, if I'm bugging you, let me know.
But it's kind of like that thing where you have to ask for the things that you kind of want.
[00:18:56] Speaker A: Do you ever have people there outright rude about stuff?
[00:18:59] Speaker B: I think it's happened in the past. I think people who are rude are just rude in all parts of their life, probably, so I don't really take it personally.
[00:19:07] Speaker A: They have to realize that it's not going to help you by acting like that through email.
[00:19:13] Speaker B: Yeah, and I also understand that people have bad days and I try not to take too many things personally. It's hard, but I don't that's good. I work in journalism, so yeah, it's like everybody hates us, you know what I mean? There's always something, but I mean, it is upsetting if I do get something wrong. So I do like to be called out on being wrong or get some real suggestions on how coverage can be better. So there's that. So follow up. Definitely don't be afraid to do that. And I can't reiterate how important it is to just leave the links. Don't attach stuff.
[00:19:50] Speaker A: Do not attach any files, anything.
[00:19:53] Speaker B: And just have all your assets ready. Just have it ready. Like have the links, the private streams, the photos. It'll be just so much easier for everybody. Oftentimes the artists just have it on their website, right? Or like PR firms will have their client list. You click on it, you can download press photos. There's a contact there so you can get questions answered if it's a national act.
[00:20:15] Speaker A: So have a direct title that tells you exactly what they are pitching to you. Answer the who, what, where, when, why in the body of the email. Don't attach files. Like just give a dropbox of all the assets. Provide a press release.
[00:20:31] Speaker B: If they definitely have that, don't paste the press release. Just link to it or something, like a PDF on your website or something.
[00:20:38] Speaker A: And then like social media links, unless they're already in that press release.
[00:20:43] Speaker B: Yeah, oftentimes social media links can be in emails. Like you can link text with the.
[00:20:48] Speaker A: Signature and stuff sometimes.
[00:20:50] Speaker B: So sometimes I'll click on that and.
[00:20:52] Speaker A: Then after that, just follow up if they don't hear back from you.
[00:20:55] Speaker B: Yeah, definitely follow up. And don't get frustrated. It's kind of a shame that these days, artists, on top of being a creative person with all those things to worry about, you're also managing your own career and it's almost cruel to make somebody who's making art have to worry about that. But that's how it is and I'm trying to make it easier for you. So if you could make it easier for me, then I think we can get back to just going to the show and enjoying it.
[00:21:20] Speaker A: It's like that phrase like, help me. Help you.
[00:21:23] Speaker B: Yeah. And I really do want to help the artist, so it is always unfortunate when I can't.
[00:21:28] Speaker A: All right, so I kind of cut you off there. So do you have anything else other than the following up? No attachments?
[00:21:35] Speaker B: I can't think of anything. I'm sure I'm missing something. I'm going to look over this.
[00:21:40] Speaker A: I mean, we went over quite a bit.
[00:21:41] Speaker B: Yeah, I think we did.
[00:21:43] Speaker A: We just stressed the main points.
I didn't know if you wanted to give your because you said your email has been given out. If you want to provide your email.
[00:21:51] Speaker B: Yeah, my email is so you can email me any time of day, wherever you want.
. So also contact page on the website and you can just click on my byline on Creativeliffing Tampa and it'll take you there.
[00:22:08] Speaker A: But make sure you follow all these guidelines and tips that we've just discussed.
[00:22:12] Speaker B: Yeah, and you know what? I guess I would add we talked about a lot of stuff and sometimes hearing all this stuff makes you feel like you can't it creates this anxiety where you won't hit send or even start the press release. Don't be scared, just do it. You're excited about your art? I hope to be excited about your art. Share it with me. These are just tips, maybe to clean it up. But don't let hearing this stuff keep you from doing the thing. Send it.
[00:22:42] Speaker A: That's all you can do. Just put it out there and just see if it gets picked up.
[00:22:45] Speaker B: Yeah.
[00:22:46] Speaker A: All right, so I think that does cover everything that we wanted to discuss. So I'm going to bore you a little bit and just go over some brief company news here with Symphonic. But I just want to give a reminder to all of our fans that we have the Symphonic Awards coming up, which start on December 6. We'll be announcing our Artists and Label of the Year nominees so you can check that out on our social media. I'm sure we'll share the link, but also on our Simblog.com.
Second, we'll be sending out our annual survey that we'd love if you can complete it. And then this helps us with building new services and enhancements. So just let us know how we're doing.
Third, remember to please review our content. Cutoff dates for the holidays to make sure releases and music videos get delivered on time. We were discussing earlier about the two weeks and stuff like that, but with content cut off, there's definitely especially with itunes, very specific dates that you need to submit your release by in order to get it live by a specific date. So please review that if you're a client with Symphonicms.com with your account there. Or we also have a blog article about it, which we have it pinned, like, on our social media accounts as well about the content cut off. So other than that, happy holidays and Happy New Year to everyone. I think this will be the last podcast of 2018. I had to think about that for a second. I was like, Wait, what year is this?
[00:24:05] Speaker B: Yeah, I'm ready in next year, too.
[00:24:07] Speaker A: What year is it? Like, that Robin Williams meme.
All right, Ray. So one last thing.
We ask every guest this. What are you currently listening to?
[00:24:19] Speaker B: Well, I'm about to interview Nico Case. I've been listening to Nico Case nonstop, probably for the last few days. We're also doing like, a local music roundup, like best of for the year.
[00:24:29] Speaker A: Oh, nice.
[00:24:29] Speaker B: So I'm listening to a lot of local music liking Revisited, the DEA and Saint album Trap Doom. So that's really great. So excited to listen to this James Suggs album coming out on next Friday, I think so, yeah. I'm stoked. What are you listening to?
[00:24:47] Speaker A: Well, I'm actually listening to as fans probably here because I mention this seriously every episode. I'm a huge Muse fan.
[00:24:53] Speaker B: Right on.
[00:24:53] Speaker A: So they just came out of an album, Simulation Theory, which I like it. I'm one of those fans that I love everything they do, and I obviously will have a preference for certain albums, but they have this electronic sound to it that I really like. And their music videos all kind of flow together. And me being music video distribution, I always check out the videos, too. So I think it's a great album. So I've been listening to that and I finally and this is another ongoing joke, too, but I've been starting to listen to stuff on Spotify because I was a big fan of just purchasing music on itunes. And I still have yeah, we still exist.
I'm in early 30s, so you would think I'd go with the flow, but it was just easier to listen on my phone. But no, I've been picking up Spotify and listening to playlists and stuff. So I was like, well, that's not.
[00:25:44] Speaker B: So bad, even on the go, because I feel like the big hindrance with streaming would be like, data. Right?
[00:25:49] Speaker A: When you're like, on the well, if I'm actually driving, I actually listen to podcasts.
[00:25:53] Speaker B: Okay. Right on.
[00:25:54] Speaker A: Yeah, I listen to a lot of like because I work really early, so I like to listen to a lot of educational stuff that makes me think in the morning they have a podcast, Stuff You Should Know or Stuff You Miss in History Class. It's just a little fun fact of the day. It was just like, well, that's cool.
[00:26:09] Speaker B: Right on. Yeah, that's awesome.
[00:26:10] Speaker A: Yeah. One last question.
So. It doesn't matter which genre of music that you receive.
You can write about any type of.
[00:26:19] Speaker B: Genre or there's certain I write about every kind of music I write about vaguely music related, you know, obviously I love to write about anything happening in Tampa Bay, so yeah, I mean, it's pretty much genre agnostic there's. Okay, so, yeah, write about all of it.
[00:26:36] Speaker A: It can be any type of genre like rock or hip hop.
All this stuff going through my head.
[00:26:45] Speaker B: At the end of the day, people just want to hear good music. And then on top of that, if I'm lucky enough to share a good song and then also tap into the human element of your story, then that's a win for me.
[00:26:58] Speaker A: Great.
All right, well, I think that'll wrap up our podcast episode. So thank you so much again, Ray, for being on. And again, that email is rroa at so you can send the press release and stuff, and hopefully you guys will start working together.
[00:27:18] Speaker B: Yeah, it'd be awesome. Thanks for having me.
[00:27:20] Speaker A: All right, and we'll see you guys next time.