Perfect Press Release with Polyphony Arts

Are you a solo musician, an ensemble or an arts organisation with a story you want to see picked up by the media? 

Not sure how to pitch your information in a way that will catch the editor’s eye?

As artist and arts project managers, we send out press releases all the time so we’re happy to share our experience of what makes the perfect press release. 

And, if you want help with this, check out our Perfect Press release service – send us your draft press release, and we’ll perfect it for you!

First of all, the clue is in the name: you are selling a story. That means you have information you want to present, but it has to be framed as a narrative and one with a hook to catch the reader’s eye. That’s a story. 

First: get your information in order. 

For example:

  • I’ve got a concert/event coming up/a new album coming out
  • Venue, date, time, label, launch date
  • I’m playing XXX/we’re presenting XXX/the album title is
  • Where can you buy tickets/find out more about the album

Now you have put flesh on the bones and turn those facts into a story. That means something different and/or original to make this a story an editor thinks their audience will want to hear.

“Violinist gives concert in Devon” isn’t exactly “hold the front page” material.

“Award winning violinist to returns to her home town with dazzling programme” already has two hooks in there to show why this story is interesting: this isn’t just any violinist but an award winner and, even better, it’s a local lass!

Think about your hook; think about what turns your information into a story an editor might want to hear.

Here’s a headline we wrote for an album launch in May:

“Classical guitar sensation, Duo Tandem, lead the way in remote collaboration with exciting new release.”

The hook here is the fact that Mark and Necati, have an amazing way of making fabulous music together even though Mark lives in Chicago and Necati lives in London. Given how everyone has been trying to work out how to get their music online during the Covid lockdown, this was especially topical.

Do you have any juicy quotes either about you or your event?

Here’s one from the same press release: 

“pushing the boundaries of what’s possible on classical guitars,” Minor7th

It was from a review of an earlier album by Duo Tandem, but it fitted our story perfectly.

Contemporaneous quote are also useful.

‘“We are delighted that Isadora will be the first to perform live music here again. The fact that she grew up in the town makes it so much more special for us and for our audience,” said the centre’s artistic director, Julia Wishbone.’

Tip: if you don’t have a quote, get in touch with friends/colleagues/the promoter and get one!

You’ve heard of the elevator pitch. You find yourself in an elevator with a big movie producer and you have just so long as it takes to get to his floor to pitch your script idea.

Tell your story simply and effectively and get back out the door. Editors are busy people and they get bored very quickly. If you haven’t sold your story within the first few lines, you’ve missed the boat.

You also have to consider what type of media you are aiming for. If you’re giving a recital to a small concert society in Norfolk, don’t target the national press. Look at local papers and radio. Get online, find the name of the editor (or better yet the arts correspondent) if you can, plus email addresses, phone numbers.

Tip: if you haven’t already, now is a good time to start building a database of press contacts.

If you have a good quality photo, send it along. 

If you have some online video performances, include the links.

And don’t forget to include all your contact details at the foot of the release!

Head your press release: “PRESS RELEASE” and put “ENDS” after the body of the text. All you extra information – your details and any links – come after that. Don’t send it as an attachment; copy it into the body of your email. 

We had a lovely live discussion on our live series about the ins and outs of writing the perfect press release. You can watch the full video here.

Katie Beardsworth and Margaret Pinder

Invisible barriers

Do you have something you want to do, but find you can never quite get around to doing it?

I’ve been thinking a lot about invisible barriers recently. I had a big one when lockdown started – I wanted to do exercise, but my usual swimming wasn’t an option. I used to run a few years ago before my son was born, so decided I wanted to start running again.

But, it was really hard. My mind was full of messages –

you haven’t done this for years, you’ve lost all your fitness, you don’t have the right clothes, you will be the slowest….

A friend of mine had told me about the Couch to 5k app recently, so I thought I’d give it a go. It worked a treat. I took a bit longer than the 9 weeks, but I taught myself to run for half an hour without stopping. To do that, I have to run two laps of the park. Then, because I’d been motivated by the app, I went further – I gave three laps a go, and I did it! 

I’ve just got home from running three laps of the park for the third time in about ten days, and I am so proud of myself. Exercise isn’t something that comes naturally to me, and I am almost always the slowest/worst at any sporting activity (picked last in PE, every time!). 

It feels really amazing to do something better than I did before, especially when it’s not something that comes easily. It’s spurred me on and the motivation will keep building alongside the success. My invisible barrier has been broken down!

The Couch to 5k app was essential to this success. It didn’t do any of it for me – I did all the work myself – but it provided the mindset, motivation and encouragement I needed to unlock my potential.

Many musicians have invisible barriers about promoting themselves pitching for work. Fear of failure, fear of what other people will think… perhaps even fear of success… there are so many, and I’m always thinking about how I can help remove these barriers.

we can help you feel great about pROMOTING YOURSELF.

We have a range of services available to help you feel confident and raring to go.

Strategic career coaching (2 month in-depth career coaching)

Polyphony Arts membership (manage your own career with the support of an agent for those tricky moments)

Strategic plan for musicians

Become Your Own Agent (online course)

Perfect Pitch

Perfect Press Release

Social Media Guide for musicians

We all feel wobbly sometimes, and sometimes we don’t see how much it is holding us back. The right support at the right time can make all the difference.

What are your invisible barriers?

What are your tips for overcoming them?

Are you ready to make a change? I think you are!

Katie Beardsworth