As a publicist, bands solicit me directly for my PR services all the time. Most of them are very new, don't have management or a label, and don't have a clear idea of what publicity is, and that's understandable. I wouldn't expect bands to know how the PR machine works when they're so new to the game.
They ask about pricing plans, what my services entail, what type of packages I offer, etc. And those are all the things they should ask. However, most of the time, I work with signed bands that have management and representation in place, and bands that I have worked with for several years and multiple albums. But I do work with some up-and-coming and unsigned acts if they blow me away or if I have a past relationship with them.
What really does blow me away, though, are the acts and artists who approach me with absolutely no etiquette or even basic email respect whatsoever. Here are some examples of the worst types of emails I've gotten – and I'm sharing this in effort to show other young bands how not to make an inquiry, or perhaps correct the mistakes of those who may have not used the best approach. This is purely an educational exercise designed to help bands with a legit interest in securing a publicist.
"What will $200 get me?"
When I get an email asking what type of plan I offer for $200, it's clear to me that an artist or an act has no clue how real PR works. Good, effective, and strategized PR isn't cheap. It's time consuming, and it's going to come with a price tag. When someone thinks that $200 will actually lead to something, it indicates to me that the band is too young to even have PR and needs more growth in a lot of areas, including an understanding of the business.
"What kind of deal can you give me?"
I find this type of email be a bit rude and presumptuous when someone I don't know and don't have a pre-existing relationship with is asking me for a deal on my services. I'm really good at what I do, so why should someone I don't already work with get a discount or a "bro" rate? You have to earn bartering power, and if someone wants to try and haggle at the outset, well, it's a red flag, and I usually shut the conversation down.
"We're going to be huge, so do you think you could just... help us out?"
Yes, I have actually had bands contact me and ask me for freebies, because they're "going to be huge." On one hand, I'm like, "Wow. That's some supreme confidence." And on the other, I'm like, "What jackassery!!!" The truth is that every band wants to be the biggest band in the world – most bands think that way, and there's nothing wrong with confidence, ambition, ballsiness, and the desire. However, asking someone with a deep resume and history of breaking bands to work free "just 'cuz," and when you're an unproven entity? It's insulting. That's like going into Target, stealing a bottle of Coke, and then telling the security guard that you don't have any money, but because you want it, they should just give it to you. It doesn't work that way – in life or the music business.
The email with zero information in it
I also get emails from artists who want PR, but provide no information. "Hey, we're in a band, and we want to see what your services cost" tells me nothing. I can't even consider them with no information, or so much as a link to check out to try and make an informed decision. Plus, most super-busy music industry folks aren't going to do the research themselves; you should really do the work for them. After all, you're seeking them out.
The convoluted email chain
Oftentimes, I get emails from artists who want to work with me, and they provide all the necessary info, and we have a pretty in-depth dialogue. But sometimes, it becomes too overwhelming with too many rapid-fire emails with lots of piecemeal information. It becomes hard to stay on top of it – which is often why I prefer a managed act, since the manager is the nerve center who disperses the information properly, since that's, you know, his or her job! When an artist starts blasting me with emails, and we're in conversational "getting to know you" stages and have not even come to an agreement, it often trails off and just stops because there's no filter.
So, I would recommend making communication effective and efficient. Everyone's busy, and without a clear directive, it can become punisher-y. Next week, I'll offer insight into some of the best emails I have gotten from artists who are looking for publicity services to fully flesh out this theme!
Learn more about publicity:
- 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
Amy Sciarretto has 20 years of print and online bylines, from Kerrang to Spin.com to Revolver to Bustle, covering music, beauty, and fashion. After 12 years doing radio and publicity at Roadrunner Records, she now fronts Atom Splitter PR, her own boutique PR firm, which has over 30 clients. She also is active in animal charity and rescue.