"1) You Don't Have A Story
When you write your press release or pitch an article, highlight the most interesting aspects of what makes you stand out.
The average reader doesn't care how you achieved that guitar tone on the bridge of track 3.
2) You Send Out Your CD Shrink-wrapped
The mental effort it takes to battle with a shrink wrapped CD far outweighs the actual time and effort it will take to actually unwrap it. In your mind you have thought this out: "It's more professional if I give them my CD shrink wrapped. It looks like I'm a legitimate artist. They'll enjoy unwrapping it - like a present!" This is wrong on all accounts
Always unwrap your CD when giving it to someone important
If a reviewer sees 5 discs on her desk, 4 are shrink wrapped and 1 is not, which do you think she's going to start with?
3) Your Band Photo Isn't Professional
Every featured band review is accompanied with a photo. It diminishes the publication if they print (or post) a pixilated band photo that looks like it was shot by the drummer's girlfriend on her iPhone.
Hire a professional to do a photo shoot for every major, press-worthy event.
4) You Aren't Pitching An Event
If you're trying to get a reviewer to write a show preview for a local show then you have to make it an event.
Make sure every event you pitch a reviewer is newsworthy and not just a local 4-band bill on a Wednesday night.
5) You Don't Have A Great Video
It doesn't need to be a music video. It doesn't need to be a live video. But whatever video you're featuring needs to be great. People will watch videos before they will listen to music. Reviewers are no different
6) You Don't Have Any Shows Booked
Having shows booked validates you on many levels. It shows that you're a band on the move. On the rise. Reviewers are much more willing to review touring bands - especially if you're contacting out of town press when you're passing through their city.
7) You Attached The Press Release (Or Mp3) To The Email
Never attach anything to an email in your initial pitch. Many reviewers have filters setup to send these emails directly to trash. Don't clutter their inbox up with your attachments.
8) Your Press Release Is Too Long
No exceptions. The initial pitch email can contain a personal intro, 'cover letter' paragraph or two, but the press release is one page