The art of solicitation

source: pixeloutput

so·lic·i·ta·tion:

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.

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