Wednesday, 5 October 2011

PR Emails - Why This Blogger Doesn't Always Reply

With half the world’s new music bloggers pulling their hair out over the recent (and as we write, on-going) Soundcloud downtime following the recent DDoS attack this post is a little different from the normal Breaking More Waves music coverage. Instead it’s a response of sorts to an interesting blog post by an on line PR company, who after bemoaning a lack of replies to their targeted PR emails received a response from a blogger who gave some answers as to why they don’t reply. It’s worth a read before you go any further with this. Read it using the link above.

Right. Read that? Good. Now let’s continue.

Breaking More Waves is a relatively small scale blog receiving about 30,000-35,000 hits a month (slowly increasing month by month) and unlike the blogger in the article who stated that “the web is our lifeline,” it isn’t ours. This is fundamentally a hobby, albeit a hobby that sometimes seems to define our identity. There's no money earnt from it, we have no interest in using it to develop a career in the music industry as some do (we already have a well-paid professional job) and have no desire to develop the blog as a ‘big hitter’ for perceived status or success reasons. It’s a clichĂ© but we do it because we love to communicate the music we love to those who may be of a similar mind set to our own. It's probably why one of our favourite UK music blog brothers is Just Music That I Like - because that blog also has a similar ethos and mindset. There's nothing 'hip' about it, there's no attempt to keep up with the cool kids or boost his ego by posting the latest buzz band, but you really get the feeling that everything posted there is something he genuinely loves.

However, as much as we love the blog and the conversation about music, it’s still relatively low on our list of priorities when it comes to time.

Let’s do some maths. The Breaking More Waves in box receives between 60-100 emails a day from bands, artists and PR companies. So take an average of 80 and allowing for 2/3 of them containing some sort of music content that means approximately 50 pieces of music to potentially listen to on any one day. Assuming an average song is 3.5 minutes long that’s nearly 3 hours of music. Remember that figure. 3 hours.

Here’s the deal. Our professional non-music day job = 8 hours a day. Travelling to and from that real life job = 1 hour. Care of 2 children / family life / housework = 5 hours a day. Sleep = 7 hours a day. Having a social life / going to gigs etc = 2 hours. Total = 23 hours.

So this leaves 1 spare hour in the day. With 3 hours of music to listen to. With that we haven’t even factored in any time for actually writing the blog post itself, or giving the music some time, playing it more than once, thinking about it, and deciding what we want to say. It doesn’t take a time management expert to realise that as a new music blogger we’re pretty time limited.

This is the reason why we don’t often reply to emails where submissions are sent to us. It’s also the reason why there’s only an average of 1 post a day. Quite simply we’re massively time limited and as much as we love music, we have other very real aspects of our life that take priority. We try our best to give as much time to the blog as we can, we really do, but the bottom line is on average we spend less than an hour a day doing ‘blog work’ (which is isn’t really work – as we said before it’s a hobby, a passion, a labour of love). We have to be very selective - we're sorry to say that much of what we receive we never even get to listen to. It’s why when we listen to a track, if after 30 seconds if it’s not grabbing us we hit stop and delete. It’s why probably only 20% of our content is sourced from our in box. When we’re at that gig watching a band, when we’re listening to the radio driving to work and hear a song that we like, we’re just as likely, possibly even more likely, to write posts about this music than wading through our emails.

The referenced article above talked about “How to be heard in a crowd where everyone is always talking.” Unfortunately the reality is that quite often, in terms of our inbox, we’re not listening – and no matter how hard PR companies and artists try, how loud they shout, how interesting, inventive, selective and human their communication is, if we’re not listening, they’re not going to get through.


Tim said...

Eloquently put Robin - that about sums up how I look at blogging as well.

Time pressure (and I don't even have kids) and volume of emails means I only really reply if I'm posting something to be honest. I have a filter for emails from PR people I trust not to spam me - and that stuff always gets listened to, but if I don't like it enough to post I will likely not reply.

Lou said...

Having read this I'm just massively impressed at the amount you manage to write and post and keep the quality pretty high.

Keep up the good work.

Matt said...

Great post Robin, totally agree.

With kids myself and a busy life I aim for 30 mins a day on the blog. If I'm lucky I try to get one evening a week to trawl the inbox but that doesn't often happen. Unless I recognise the band or really trust the PR type then a lot times I hit delete.

Anonymous said...

Fair play you say this, and I know you haven't, but while your blog is popular you're always going to get bombarded.