The art of solicitation
the act of asking for or trying to obtain something from someone.
For me, it started back in middle school when the 2008 earthquake hit Sichuan in China. I don’t remember exactly how, but somehow I found myself standing in front of our local Starbucks, holding a poster board with pictures of the devastation in China, asking passerby’s for money.
We raised maybe $100 or so that day, but that experience helped me develop the mentality that I currently have whenever I reach out to people:
Don’t take anything personally – just recover, smile and try again.
It’s like my boss at Phonathon used to say:
Have the memory of a goldfish and the enthusiasm of a golden retriever.
Solicitation has gotten me so far in life.
After working at Phonathon for 3 years, I’ve learned not to take rejection seriously. Earlier this year, as I stalked Crankdat on social media, I realized that most artists listed their manager’s email address on their profile. So I drafted an email and sent it to him, and a few days later we set up an interview and a ticket giveaway. It was as easy as that.
Everything I needed to make it happen was out there, it was just up to me to convince them that I was worth the time. And when I started editing vlogs for my spring break trips, I learned to skip the whole licensing and copyright process by reaching out to smaller artists directly to ask for permission to use their music.
You think I get requests left and right from artists hoping for an interview on my blog? No, most people don’t have the time to respond to a query from a no-name blogger.
The trick that I’ve learned is to sell yourself from the get-go. That, and you have to expect to get rejected or straight up ignored most of the time.
So how do you sell yourself?
Introduce yourself – I tell these people that I’m a journalism student with music writing experience and a passion for whoever I’m inquiring about. I try to distinguish myself from every other journalist out there.
Establish your value – Explain how you can help them out. What do you offer? More views and plays? Access to a niche target audience? More bodies at an upcoming concert? I share a small tidbit about the roster of people that I’ve already interviewed to give them a sense of the caliber of talent that have somehow agreed to give me a chunk of their time.
Do your research, then pitch an angle – I can’t say that I’m a journalist and a fan of someone like YehMe2 if I haven’t read up on him beforehand. I scour the internet for past interviews, refresh myself of his recent and best releases and stalk his social media to see what he’s been up to. Then I think of a unique angle or two to tell a better, deeper story.
Follow up – there are a lot of tools you can use (Streak tracks your sent emails as well as when they are opened) to see if people are receiving your messages. And if you want a response faster, it’s likely that sending a follow up note increase your chances of getting a reply. Something short and simple will bring your email back to the top of their inbox.