Back in January 2011 I promised you a ‘Top 5′ series, offering advice, tools, tips, hints and more.

Well, here’s the first: ‘Top 5 Things to Make The Media Work For You (Part 1)’.

It’s a ‘part 1’ because I suspect that of all the Top 5s I’ll be doing, this will the most ‘living’ one – many of the tips will be based on real-life strategies and experiences I’ve seen work both for me and other people.

So, without further ado, let’s get on with it:

Tip 1: *Never* ask anyone in the media to pay for your material.

Don’t send a link to iTunes (or wherever) for your media contact to buy your music, book or whatever.

  • Chances are you want the attention of this person because they can get your product out to a wider audience.
  • Why should they have to pay for that privilege?  If it all works out, you’re going to be the primary beneficiary of the transaction.

Bonus: how well you present yourself is almost directly commensurate to how the media will respond to you.  A well packaged and presented product (event, book, music, artist, etc) will make your media contact take you much more seriously.

And they’ll end up working that bit harder for you as a result.

Tip 2: Have a ‘media person friendly’ press pack and/or electronic press kit (EPK) ready.

Sometimes I come across a song so awesome I want to play it on radio, write about it in the blog or publish it on straight away – but I can’t.

Why?  I have no information from the artist apart from the ‘please listen to this track and let me know what you think’ email they sent.

  • If you’re going to the trouble of sending that email, you might as well send all the necessary supporting information at the same time. If your media contact likes it and they want to use it immediately – they can.
  • At the very least it should be very well thought out and laid out, on one side of a single sheet of paper for easy reading.
  • An electronic press kit is good (MyM’s video is a great example), but you definitely need a printable version.

Also: make it look good. Hire a decent designer. It’s worth it. Why? See Tip 1 bonus.

Tip 3:  How To Send What You Send – ‘Think in stereo’

It’s always a good idea to have two versions of the press release/profile information/news update you’re sending.

Everyone’s busy in the media. Provide a bite size version of your press release – something that summarises you – and quickly.

  • It doesn’t hurt to assume your media contact has a very small window of time to assimilate your information. Prepare a quick summary in the body of the email you’re sending, with an attachment holding the ‘full fat’ version.
  • In the example of a music track: if I’m live on radio playing your song, a quick scan of your email should give me your artist name (plus any feature/guest artists), song title, release date and website in less than 5 seconds.

That will not be the time or place I’d want to read about the deep inspiration behind your writing of the song. Sorry.

Tip4: Listen/Watch/Read the Platform You’re Sending Your Material To

I’ll stick with a music example for this one: make sure you listen to (or watch) the station you want to send your music to.

  • There’s someone I know that sends me their music and subsequently asks me if I’ve played their track on radio.
  • At the very least that tells me one hugely important thing: they’re not listening to the show I’m on.
  • It almost sounds like you want me to work for you, but you don’t want to work for me.  If you’re not listening to my station, why exactly should I play your song?  That might sound harsh, but media platforms survive if they are supported as much as they support. Simples.
  • Secondly, you’ll get a feel for what the station’s music policy actually is.  If you create hard-core Hip-hop with an edgy Trance/Grime element to it, then sending your track to BBC TV’s ‘Songs of Praise’ is probably not the best idea you ever had…
  • I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen artists tweeting the fact that they were listening to Nage and I on Premier Gospel’s Gospel Breakfast show, and as a result I’ve played their track.

If they’re happy to tell the world what station they’re listening to, I’m very happy to work hard for them.

Bonus: mobilise your fan base/supporters/fans/Facebook friends, etc to persuade the station to play your tune.  Very few stations can afford to ignore a large number of people asking for something, especially when they’re all doing it at the same time…

Tip 5: Put your contact details on *EVERYTHING*

I’ve seen some amazing artwork on CD sleeves, CDs, business cards, Jewel cases and more.

But the amount of people who don’t maximise the opportunities open to them is scary. Put your contact details on everything: in the physical world CDs get separated from jewel cases, which get separated from inlay cards.

In the digital domain, make sure your MP3 ID3 tags are fully filled in (artist name, track title, album name, etc).  If you use Windows there’s even a ‘Comments’ field you can use for miscellaneous information.  Find it under ‘Properties’.

Here’s what I suggest: you need your phone number, email address and website on:

  • Your CD – cases get left at home because many DJs use CD wallets
  • Your CD case – etch something on to the case or invest in some decent stickers (front and back)
  • Your CD inlay/booklet – fancy colours are good, but please – for goodness sake – make sure your details are legible. Light text on a light background is a definite no-no. It may look pretty, but if no one can contact you…?

Bonus tip: Pay Your Media Professional to Work For You

There’s a reason why these people in the media are there. Invariably they are good at what they do.

If you need some decent PR, hire a PR professional. If you need a professional-looking bio, why in the world are you doing it yourself if you’re not a professional?

Unsurprisingly, there’s a skill to good design, good P.R., promotions and all of that good stuff.

Hope this helps.  Now go make the media work hard for you.