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I received a press release from a fairly big record company yesterday afternoon. You’ve heard of them. The release went like this:
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Hi blogging community,

Here at [XXXXX] (name of record label withheld), we’re on a cyber-crusade, and we want you to be part of it. We know that blogging has become a massive part of the music community and an important way of spreading word of our artists, and we want to make sure you’re kept in the loop about what’s going on at our fine label.

To make sure we don’t bother you with stuff you’re not interested in, it’d be great if you could answer a few quick questions and give us a bit of feedback on how you think we should do it. Essentially, we want to know what sort of things interest you, what you would like to be sent, how you want it sending, etc etc. This should all help in that you’ll get the best from us.

So, with that in mind…

1.) What sort of content do you want us to provide you with? Is it mp3’s and videos that float your boat, or are you looking for news stories on up-and-coming releases from our artists, or does all of that interest you? Let us know – we’ll do our best to sort you out.

2.) If videos do float your boat, then in what format do you want them sending?

3.) When it comes to providing you with music in what format do you want it sending?

4.) How would you prefer to be contacted? Would you prefer a weekly e-mail consisting of all XXXXX information that might interest you, or would you prefer content as and when it comes?

Ultimately, all this feedback should benefit you. If you provide us with answers as to what you want to be provided with as a blogger, then we’ll do out best to sort you out. Essentially, we want to tailor what we provide to suit you, so you can get the best from us.

Cheers,

[XXXXXX]
(Name of poor, misguided wretch withheld)

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When I finally stopped laughing, a couple of hours ago, I wondered how this could be used in a constructive way to be helpful to other record labels who might want to communicate with the blogosphere.

And I came up with one simple bit of advice, which I duly returned by email to the PR person in question.

I wrote:
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Dear [XXXXXXX],

“Hi blogging community”?!
“Cyber crusade”?!
“All this feedback should benefit you”?!
“blogging has become a massive part of the music community”?!!!

Really?

Holy cow.

If one of my students wrote this in my Music Promotion and PR module, they would fail.

But rather than wish you ill, please allow me to direct you to:
Chris Brogan’s website.

Read everything he’s ever written.

Change your name.

Wait five years then try again.

Right now, we are all laughing at you.

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So maybe that was harsh, but I think not entirely unfair.

PR – especially online, and especially when it comes to music – is about relationships. I am not the blogging community. I’m not even sure there is one.

Even so, I can give you some really simple tips:

1) Don’t give me homework.
2) Don’t tell me that doing my homework is good for me
3) Don’t go on a crusade. They never end well.
4) Please never, ever use the word cyber again unless you’re going in for some sex chat.
5) Don’t ask how I would prefer to be contacted. I would prefer NOT to be contacted. I love talking to people and having conversations, but I hate being ‘contacted’.

I know it’s just PR. I know you are talking to other people – but I am not your mouthpiece and I don’t care about your music unless I decide to.

There are some people who send me stuff that I talk about and recommend, even though I know, deep down, that they’re just doing a PR job. But they do it right and I feel like we have some sort of friendship going on.

Jaz Cummins from Shiny Red gets it. She seems to be doing everything right. If she sent me stuff, I’d be quite likely to talk about it, because I know it would be relevant and interesting. Besides, we’re friends on Twitter, and I kind of feel that not helping her out would be to let her down. It’s pure strategy – but it works.

Nick Fitzsimons from Penny Distribution has given this a lot of thought too – and it just makes sense. Know who you’re talking to on an individual basis, and tailor your communication.

It might be time consuming, but saving time by addressing the blog-o-verse, or whatever you want to call it, will set your cause back another few years.

Ha… “cyber-crusade”. That’s still funny.