I love being a publicist. It’s the highlight of my day when we secure a placement that our artist is dreaming of, or show them a really flattering piece on their music. Getting to work with so many passionate, eager, driven people makes this a business worth loving. But for every beautiful experience, there’s at least a handful more that are made difficult by misaligned expectations, and there’s an easy way around that. One of the best things an artist can do prior to bringing on a publicist is make sure there’s clear communication and that the artist and publicist’s visions for the project line up.
But once the campaign actually starts, the work isn’t over. In fact, it’s just beginning. And I have to tell you, the best and most successful campaigns I’ve ever worked on were with artists who asked me, "What can I do to make sure we’re making the most of this campaign?" Here’s what I tell them.
1. Communicate with your publicist
You know that old adage "communication is key"? There’s a reason it’s withstood the test of time. Without communication, nothing gets done. That means if your publicist sends you time-sensitive questions, thoughts, or feature offers, responding a week later isn’t doing anyone any favors. We all have busy lives, but if your career is something you’re serious enough about that you’ve invested in a publicity campaign, you need to be on the ball with responding to your publicist to ensure things are moving forward in a timely manner.
This means keeping your team in the loop with any new content, major shows, or ideas you may have. Having your publicist find out about a new cover video you recorded via Facebook or seeing that you’re opening for a major band on Twitter is not the right way to keep him or her informed. It’s crucial that you keep your publicist up to date with your content creation, show schedule, and any other developments in your career so that he or she can fit those pieces of promotion into the campaign and get you the best results possible.
2. Have realistic expectations
We talk about this one a lot, but as an emerging act, it’s important that you have realistic expectations and keep your ego in check. You may be incredibly talented and have all the drive in the world, but if you’re on your debut release and your social media numbers are low, it’s just not realistic to expect sites like Alternative Press, Stereogum, or Billboard to take the time to feature you.
When you hire a publicist, you don’t hire a miracle worker. We cannot force any editors to listen to and feature your music, no matter how much we believe in you or how much talent you have.
Be humble, and recognize that even though you may believe you’re better than artist X who they featured last week, the reality is that you may not be at that point yet where they’re going to take notice. And that’s okay. That just means you can focus your energy on the outlets that can and will grow with you, and that will support you along your journey. Then, as you grow, you can start targeting higher tier outlets.
3. Create a strong EPK
One of the most common hiccups we run into when working with a new artist is gathering all their assets. This means, beyond gathering just the music itself, having your artwork finished, having at least three high-quality promo images that can be sent to press, active social media profiles, a well-written bio, etc. Without these basics, it makes it really difficult for us to move forward and garner the attention of press. Before you even think of beginning a PR campaign, make sure you have all of these things in order.
4. Share, share, share
This is one of the biggest things that artists seem to struggle with, and easily the number-one way to irritate press and potentially harm any future opportunities. One of the main incentives for outlets to feature you, beyond just liking your music, is to have access to your audience. This means that when they feature you, they expect you to share that coverage on your social media – and not only share it, but tag the outlet. These writers and outlets are almost always making no money at all, so remember to show gratitude by sharing their piece. By doing so, you’re building relationships and honestly just being a good person. Blogging is an often thankless job, so when someone takes the time to write about your music, the least you can do is share.
5. Let your publicist do his or her job
There’s nothing more frustrating and discouraging than working with an artist who wants to micromanage everything you do. You brought us on to do a job, so please trust us to do it. I get that it’s scary to put a lot of money into something, and that at the end of the day this is your baby, and you should absolutely be overseeing it and be very clear about what you do and don’t want. But once you decide to hire a publicist, you have to trust him or her to do his or her job if you want to see the best results.
This means not turning your nose up at certain outlets just because you think the audience is too small and it means stepping outside your comfort zone to work on angles that might not come naturally to you, so long as it still fits your brand. Be clear and concise in what you expect, but once you’ve officially brought that team member on, trust him or her to do the job you hired him or her for.
- 8 Misconceptions About Music Publicity (and Why You Need it Regardless)
- 8 Reasons You Aren't Getting Publicity for Your Music
- 4 Ways to Be More Proactive With Your Band's Publicity
- 9 Critical Things You Should Know About Publicity Before You Make Your First Move
- 4 Ways to NOT Get Publicity for Your Band
Angela Mastrogiacomo is the owner of Muddy Paw Public Relations and Infectious Magazine. She has also founded several chapters of the free weekly music industry meetup Balanced Breakfast. Muddy Paw specializes in working with up-and-coming artists on personalized campaigns designed to bring their careers to the next level. To date, they've secured placements on sites such as Noisey, AbsolutePunk, Substream, Property Of Zack, PureVolume, Anti-Music, and many more.