The point I cannot emphasise enough to performers is how important it is to have good publicity. Every aspect of your publicity is important; the photos; the paper; the layout; your copy writing - it is all selling yourself and your act. It is the good old first impression, but publicity essentially sells your act. Harsh as it may be, my attitude is that if a performer cannot sell themselves to me, then I cannot sell them to other people.
My first tip to all performers, to save both you and us time and money is to call the agent before you send your publicity. I get about ten bands a week sending me their publicity even though I say on this site that we do not represent musicians.
One thing I cannot stress enough is do not send us or anyone else your last copy of your publicity or photos or video. Agents get sent a lot of stuff and the liklihood is you will not see it again, it is even more likely that they do not want that responsibility. And the postal system is far from reliable.
If you can, try and collect as many pieces of other performers publicity as you can. Look at it, analyse it, try and think if it leaves you wanting to see their performance. What works? What emotions is the copy trying to evoke? Take the best ideas from a wealth of sources and form your own picture.
The same goes for shows. Try and watch as many performances as possible and analyse them. I am not implying for a moment that you should go to a show with the aim of collecting ideas for YOUR show - that is just plagiarism, but it is important to witness what works with an audience and what does not. Most importantly is to try and assess WHY something works and whether it would work in a different context or setting. Who is the audience? Is this a fair representation? Is this the type of audience who may receive your show?
If you have the opportunity to see other people's publicity videos before you produce your own I would thoroughly recommend it. The majority of the videos I receive are too long. On the whole five minutes is the absolute maximum a showreel should be. Three to four is better. You want to show your skills but more importantly you want to leave them wanting more. A publicity video that leaves the impression of having seen everything the performer can do is pointless. It should be more of a taster of a wide range of your skills as opposed to your entire show trick for trick.
When you film your video it is always good to try and get a little bit of audience reactions in there, clients really appreciate this.
When you get filmed, it is often on a DV camera which is then edited. If you have any opportunities at this stage, get your video written onto a CD ROM as they are a lot cheaper to copy and post than VHS tapes.
On all of your publicity ESPECIALLY your videos - DO NOT INCLUDE YOUR CONTACT DETAILS. Publicity with your direct contact details on is of no use to agents. Even with a sticker over the top, it simply looks shoddy. Get two lots printed (if you get them done at a proper printer it should be very easy for them to simply take your contact details off half way through a run). Alternatively leave a space for contact details which you can stamp or sticker with your details when need arises.
On videos it is far more important not to include your details, as to remove them would mean the agent re-editing the tape Most likely it will not get done and therefore your video will simply not be seen by potential clients.
Remember it is the smallest things that make a difference - and therefore they are crucial. Always arrive at a job with enough time to introduce yourself before you need to set up. Be smart on arrival; they will be judging you from the first meeting - if you make a good impression you are far more likely to get repeat bookings. Act professionally, make their job easier and therefore working with you a pleasure. Things like taking your routine music to a job in all possible formats (tape, CD and Minidisk) which make all the difference.
One obvious point which is sometimes overlooked by performers is that you should NEVER hand out your own publicity at an event booked through an agent. Not only does this look unprofessional but more often than not, you are jeopardising any further work through that agent.