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Leveraging Muck Rack to Get Press Coverage for a Music Awards Show

I originally said no. When my longtime friend and colleague, Mitchell Cohen, asked if I could do public relations for the 10th annual Ameripolitan Country Music Awards, which he was producing, I said I was not sure I could get them the media attention they wanted. The show, set to take place in Austin, Texas would be at once a local entertainment story and a nationwide country music story. I lacked experience and contacts in both domains.

This was about three months before the awards show would take place at the famed Austin City Limits (ACL) Live at The Moody Theater. The Awards, created by country star Dale Watson and his wife Celine Watson, were set to feature major country music figures like Ray Benson and Flaco Jiménez, along with many other notable figures from the country music scene. The show certainly had the star power that could garner news coverage, but I felt a local publicist could do better than me.

The Ameripolitan team did go ahead and engage with an Austin-based music publicist, but they were not happy with the relationship. They came back to me, and I decided to take on the assignment. With the caveat that I could not guarantee any specific result, I got to work.

I put together a news calendar featuring a series of press releases and media pitches over an eight-week period. The goal was to get as much pre-show publicity as possible to drive ticket sales.

Writing the press releases and media pitches was not a big challenge. The question was, whom would I send them to? For this challenge, I leveraged the Muck Rack platform, a database of over 250,000 reporters worldwide.

I have used Muck Rack for three years. In almost every case, I have found that it allows me to identify reporters in a specific category and reach out to them through the platform’s email engine. I have done dozens of successful media outreach gigs using Muck Rack, but I had not yet used the platform for as demanding an assignment as the Ameripolitan Country Music Awards. I was not sure I could connect with hard-to-reach music reporters in a major music city using the platform.

Muck Rack’s search functionality enabled me to pinpoint reporters who covered country music in Austin, as well as reporters who cover the genre nationwide. I created multiple media contact lists, including a list of Austin television and radio stations that might cover the awards as a local story.

The pitching process was multi-faceted. Several pitches were simply the kind of “You’re invited, who/what/when/where” notifications you have to send to reporters to make them aware of the event. We supplemented these basic media alerts with pitches that delved into the heart and soul of the Ameripolitan style, which is based on the roots of country music and celebrates authentic country music in a world that seems to appreciate it less and less—despite the existence of a huge fan base for roots country music.

Augie Meyers and Flaco Jiménez, who received “Founders of the Sound” recognition (Photo by Kyle “Trigger” Coroneos / Courtesy of Saving Country Music)

We also pitched pre-show interviews with Dale Watson. Working with Roger Christian, the show’s Head of Marketing, we engaged with Austin television and radio stations and suggested they have Dale on as a guest to discuss the show and what it meant to the world of country music.

These strategies paid off. We were able to get Dale interviewed on CBS Austin television, with other stations picking up the story of the Awards as well. The Austin Chronicle published a pre-show story, as well as a review of the show. Several country music media outlets wrote about the awards in advance of the show. Others covered the event and wrote reviews.

Here is a rundown on the coverage we got for the awards show:


The success of the Ameripolitan Country Music Awards campaign showed the value of Muck Rack. The media coverage we got came about without me knowing a single music reporter, producer, or editor. I didn’t have to. With Muck Rack, I had their contact information. As long as I approached them courteously and professionally, I had a chance of getting their attention. It worked.