I receive many promotional packets. I don’t receive nearly as many as a club owner or promoter does, though. As I review the packets, a few main issues strike me—first, the most interesting and important facts are often buried deep within the text. Second, in an attempt to look impressive, the artist includes far too much material reducing the impact of the really “good stuff.” And third the material is not well organized. Since your promotional material often serves to introduce your act and create a first impression, it is important to make your first shot count.
With that in mind, I’d like to suggest some helpful tips as you pull out that promotional packet and take a close look at it. In “What to Include In Your Touring Press Kit“, I discussed what would be best to send to club bookers, performing arts center bookers and the media. This article I’ll look at some specific elements of your marketing materials and help you refine them in order to eliminate excess and accentuate the selling points.
One item that seems to puzzle people is the review. When an artist begins to get some reviews, there is a tendency to place it in the packet no matter what. A review tells bookers and the media that you are playing out and that some media outlet was impressed enough to review your performance. Great! Now make sure that when you make copies of the article, it looks good and really works for you and not against you. First, cut out the review. Make sure you keep the page number, the date, and the paper’s name. If you have the paper’s masthead, Vol. Number and date cut that out and place it creatively on a clean piece of white paper leaving room for the actual article. Get rid of any advertisements or other pieces of articles remaining on the newspaper’s page. It only serves to distract the reader from the main point—your review. Center the review neatly on the page with the masthead.
If the review has a photo and it is a live shot, call the paper to see if you can get an original print of the photo. Take the photo to a local printer or copy shop or scan it yourself to create a photo sized to the one in the review and screen it at 85 lines. Paste this over the photo in the review and then when you make photocopies of the whole review page it will be a clean, sharp copy every time. If you use the photo from the paper, it will get more and more muddy with each copy you make. If the paper simply used your promo shot, do the same with your original photo and replace the one in the paper. This photo treatment makes a very professional presentation. You can also make a PDF of the entire page once it’s cut and pasted.
One other issue to be mindful of when including reviews is, to be sure the print is readable. You are asking a great deal of the reader to spend time looking through a whole review. If the print is fading or blurring, they won’t read it. If they aren’t able to read it, why bother including it. If it is a great review but you can’t read it, consider resetting the type and making a PDF for future downloads or emails. Be kind to your intended reader and do yourself a favor by offering impressive presentation of materials.
Finally, You don’t need to include too many reviews. Choose the best one or two and keep them current. If you have performance reviews and recording reviews, choose the best two of each. Keep in mind, the reader will be less likely to read through all the articles that you include, so save your printing and shipping money. A stack of reviews and articles may seem impressive to you when in reality it is overwhelming to the recipient.
It’s wonderful that the media has been excited about your upcoming performances and has been printing preview articles. The likelihood is that most preview articles are simply a reprint of a good press release that you sent. They may have embellished the release with additional information about the specific event, but for the most part,
the information included is also included in the promotional materials you’ve provided the booker or the media outlet. Unless this preview article includes an interview with a member of the act, you might consider leaving these types of articles out of the packet. If you are interested in impressing the booker with a list of places you’ve been playing, then include a list or a general information sheet that gives them an overview of past accomplishments.
I like to provide bookers and media personnel with a user-friendly promotional packet. Essentially, that means I’ve done the work for them, I’ve read through all the reviews and thank-you letters and letters of recommendation and culled from them the most important, most pithy, most outstanding quotes and have made it easy for them to read and use. I like to include a quote sheet with five or six quotes. If I have quotes about performances and recordings, I like to create a separate quote sheet for each. List the quotes in order of the most impressive source to least, such as The New York Times first and a small town local daily paper later and perhaps a newsletter last. Gather like-quotes together under an appropriate heading, such as newspaper quotes, presenter quotes, other artist quotes, and radio DJ quotes. This organization moves the reader along quickly and helps them zoom in on the information.
Organizing the Material:
You might be thinking that this has little to do with actual booking, but my experience has proven that it plays a very important role in getting the gig. An organized, well-conceived promotional packet can make a huge difference. When I reorganized one of my artist’s promotional packets we went from sending out numerous packets and perhaps getting a single gig to getting a single gig for each packet sent out, (one for one). Promoters commented that “the packet read like a good book.” You want to lead the reader from one page to the next, from one paragraph to the next so they get the full picture that you have so painstakingly attempted to paint for them.
When you look at your materials, does all the type seem to run together and have a sameness about it? This can be remedied simply by adding headings in a bold and/or larger typeface. Read your material. If a specific theme is being discussed in a section of your bio for instance, perhaps a heading might help bring attention to some important facts. It is easier to read short bits of information than long paragraphs that run into each other and seem never to change.
Color can be used effectively to organize your entire packet. If you have a color scheme for the act, using those colors in your promotional materials can reinforce that scheme and help to further identify your act. You can use color to group certain types of information together making it easier to find, such as use one color for performance reviews and another for CD reviews. However, try to maintain continuity when using colors. Use color for emphasis and cohesiveness. Even when using bold colors, the effect can be a subtle one. Color can also help move the reader along to the next point. Color can make a statement about your act. For example, an act performing for children might choose primary colors to reach their audience while a heavy metal band, might use more black, red and gray. When you plan your next promotional packet, consider the colors that best suit your act and help make a statement about the group or the music your play.
Quality rather than quantity will often leave a better impression on the recipient of a promotional packet. When your packet is well organized and user-friendly, the booker can get to the information more easily. They appreciate an artist that respects their time by sending a packet that doesn’t demand lots of it. The less time it takes to read useful, accessible, pertinent information, the more time they can spend booking and promoting your act. Happy marketing!
And, I invite you to learn more about this and other topics important to your career development and to sign up for free weekly audio Biz Booster Hot Tip! Every Monday you’ll get another valuable strategy and technique that you can put to use immediately. You’ll find helpful books, career development seminars, Booking & Touring Success Strategies & Secrets online course and information on booking tours, the music business and performing arts. It’s all waiting for you at http://www.performingbiz.com. Jeri Goldstein is the author of, How To Be Your Own Booking Agent The Musician’s & Performing Artist’s Guide To Successful Touring, 3rd Edition.
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