HOW TO MAKE AN IMPACT WITH YOUR EPK
We’ll start by listing what you need to put in an electronic press kit. These days, electronic press kits (often called EPKs) are the way to go. Digital material can be easily modified, updated or tailored. EPKs are low-cost to create. There are no physical documents to be printed or other media to be recorded/burned. This means your package can be hosted and quickly distributed over the ‘Net, email and social media, at little or no cost, which makes it an extremely cost-effective and efficient. In order to assemble a killer EPK (which is not a robot from Terminator, before you get the wrong idea!) you’ll need some strategy, & then you’ll need to create and assemble the materials that deliver it.
(1) Strategy: The Big Secret
You need to create a unique selling point and persuasive, engaging appeal for you, your band and your brand. Something that stands out amidst the crowd, and appeals to your target audience and market. Give this some thought. Work out what you’re about and tell YOUR story.
Effective marketing creates emotional involvement and attachment. Heart, not logic, drives fandom and sales. Early advertisers, like coca-cola & soap powder manufacturers, believed that facts were the key: what’s the product, where can you get it, what does it cost, and suchlike. Wrong! What effective advertisers found out was that feelings are key. Making people like and care is more important than shunting info.
Remember this when putting together a press kit and sending it out! Two proverbs sum this up:
• The better you understand the lock, the easier it is to make a key.
• You may like strawberries, but when you go fishing, put worms on the hook
The importance of this can’t be understated!. Think of it from the point of view of the person or people you’re pitching to. What’s your message to them? What will be of interest to them? What’s in it for them? What will engage their interest? And what will make them care?. Linked to this, pay attention to the way you use branding, presentation & marketing to evoke emotion. Your logo and visual identity needs to be well-matched to the brand, for instance. How will your visuals, your look, your photo and artwork set you apart from the crowd? What will they say to your target audience?
(2) Where to Host Your EPK and How to Invite Access to It
The basic options are:
1. To store the EPK & its materials in online cloud storage
2. To store the EPK & its materials as part of your website
3. To send the EPK out via email
Option #1: Cloud Storage
EPKs are often best kept in online cloud storage, such as Dropbox and Haulix etc.
Dropbox Plus, for example, gives you 1TB of storage for £7.99 a month/£79 a year, and the Professional package offers additional services. www.dropbox.com. You can upload photos, documents (e.g. PDF files), photos, music tracks (e.g. high quality 320 kbps MP3s) and video clips into Dropbox etc. then share a private link via email to the material with whoever you want to access it. Other cloud storage providers are of course available. Haulix, for instance, offers a platform for storing and giving permitted contacts access to watermarked promos of tracks, albums and videos, in a variety of packages.
Option #2: Including Your EPK on Your Band’s Website
It’s good idea to include a version (typically a subset) of your EPK on your own website. There are several ways to do this, e.g. making the page public; making it public, but not linking to it directly from the website’s main pages (requiring a specific link). Alternatively, you can make it private and password protect it. Directing people to the version of the EPK on your website rather than the cloud-hosted version also increases traffic to your website. Video material is also very important, as mentioned below, and it’s a good idea to have a tab or section on your website which is easily accessible by someone looking at your EPK on the site
(3) Content: What to Include in Your EPK Folder?
Keep the content of your press kit up to date too, especially updating it with new releases, press quotes, accolades and award etc. Also keep info on the band’s line-up up to date. It’s embarrassing for you and the journalist to find out that they’re written up a piece on your band, mentioning members who’ve left, moved on or been fired, for instance!
A. Documents (in PDF format)
A.1 Biog of the Band (PDF)
Write up a current biog (and keep it up to date). Magazines, onlines, newspapers and radio will all want a full biog from you. If they are directed to your socials/website and there’s not much info about you, this can be off-putting for someone wanting to write about you. Help them help you!
Be clear and provide the important info upfront. “If you don’t name the band members and I have to go on a fact finding mission etc. (especially where studio or touring line ups differ), then I lose interest and move on!” warns Adrian Hextall (My Global Mind). Sometimes a good idea, especially if you’re struggling to write your own story is to go direct to a music journalist who will do this for you. They often understand better than anyone else what press are looking for and can help create something engaging and on point.
A.2 Press releases (PDF)
Press releases are particularly important for new track and album releases, tour announcements, getting the band’s achievements, accolades and awards out there, and there’s an art to writing effective pressers (which we’ll cover in a later blog). Always have the press release available in word too. This makes it easier for press to cut and paste when featuring your news on their site.
A.3 Press quote sheet (PDF)
A single page, containing choice pull quotes. Short and sweet. 1 or 2 sentences only. Include source info and links to the reviews, articles or onlines. Go for attention-grabbing wording, high praise, and also the weight and authority of the reviewer or publication. N.B. Help the journalists etc. by providing useful information, interesting content, and make it clear why your band, release etc. is newsworthy. Adrian Hextall of My Global Mind looks for “2-3 paras from the band about what a release means to them” and “2-3 paras from the PR about why we should care about the band.”
B. Visuals: High-Res Band Photos and Artwork
Provide good quality, useful photos and visuals. Adrian Hextall looks for band to provide “4-5 promo photos in hi-res that we can use/chop down as needed to fit an article on the page.” Make photos and artwork available digitally and make sure all production credits and contact details are available. Make sure you include photographer credits if needed. We can’t stress enough how important good quality images are! Sometimes this can make the difference as to whether a magazine will feature you or not! Print magazines will insist on hi-res, so make sure you have these ready to go. When sending the photo’ to press you MUST provide high-res images, preferably 300dpi no less than 600px (though this may vary from site to site). Make sure the file names are clear, intuitive and self-explanatory. Journalists don’t want to plough through files named ‘photo 1674’ etc. Use hi-res, uncompressed file formats, e.g. JPG and send the band logo as an extra file in PNG format.
It’s good practice to avoid sending photos and artwork as attachments. Some press get funny about you clogging up their inbox with attachments. Look around for alternative ways of sending or providing access to press assets: there are many around, such as Dropbox and Haulix. Also (& this is important!) Be creative! Time and time again bands submit overdone, cliché shots, like the band standing in front of a wall, the band standing in a line, etc. Stand out!
Also, look through a photographer’s portfolio before you spend money on a photo session. Photographers can’t work miracles: they can only work with what they are given, so think carefully about the band’s image. Is it coherent? You might want to think about a stylist before a photoshoot, and make sure you’re all in sync before the shoot.
Key Graphics & Visuals checklist
• Band photos
• Live performance phots
• Album cover art
• Your band logo
C. Media Materials
N.B. Check that the track names, artist and other metadata are complete and correct for the tracks and clips you host, share and distribute.
C1. A promo video (more advice on shooting, editing and pitching this in a later blog).
C2. A separate folder containing high-quality downloadable MP3s
C3. 20 kbps MP3s are good quality. Use these rather than 128 kbps, which are lower quality and equivalent to radio play.
N.B. Various means of hosting, sharing, streaming and distributing tracks, albums and video are available, with various forms of access control and tracking to deter and prevent piracy, such as passwords and watermarking. These platforms and approaches can be used as part of your EPK. Some bands are happy to host HQ copies of their material on Dropbox, Haulix etc; others restrict access to snippet on platforms like Amazon or iTunes; streaming on Soundcloud etc; links to YouTube videos. Alternatively, you can stream and host on your own website. In the words of Terri Chapman of Rock People Management: “So many EPKs pass through my inbox on a weekly basis, If you are going to take the time to put one together then make sure it stands out from the rest. High resolution photos must be used. Make it as easy as possible for the viewer to find your links, videos and music. Include the band’s highlights of the year too, and press quotes really help, as do album reviews. What are your plans for the next 12months? We would also love to see that you have ambition and a plan. Those, for me, are some key ingredients for a great EPK.”
Huge thanks to Terri Chapman from Rock People Management and Adrian Hextall (My Global Mind) for contributing to this Blog.