PR campaigns for established bands are obviously different, by nature, than PR campaigns for developing bands. Boiled down to base parts, bands with history have very different press kits, needs, and unique goals moving forward at specific stages in their careers. Bands that are just starting out and are launching their first PR campaigns don't need to do much surveying of the landscape, nor do they need to spend a lot of time deciding what to do and what not to do; at this point, everything is and should be doable. Translation: Developing bands are not usually in the position to decline press opportunities or get precious about things.
Here's a basic rundown of a PR checklist for an established band vs. the checklist for a developing band. Since you probably fall into the latter, this will break down how things work.
These are the key things an established band and its publicity team or PR agent need to consider before the start of a fresh album campaign or cycle. These are the questions that the label, manager, and publicist discuss amongst themselves. Imagine it like a dialogue in a meeting.
- When do we service?
- What watermarking methods should be enacted to protect digital music and to avoid potential loss of sales?
- Should we do watermarked CDs?
- Could we offer Haulix-only digital servicing?
- Should we have the media come into the office and listen?
- Can we create "listen once and destruct" private streams?
This discussion is critical.
- What press should the band do that's "new"?
- What press should the band stop doing, since it's been done repeatedly already?
- What are new targets that are realistic?
- What's the overarching goal for our press kit and press campaign on this cycle?
- What ground haven't we covered?
- Should we keep doing what we've always done?
- Who gets music first?
- Which long leads will be serviced on the first run? Second run?
- How close to release date will short leads be serviced?
- Who's on the "V-est" of the VIP list?
- Who gets what?
- What departments will get dibs on what content and when?
This has to be beneficial for band and for the outlet, in that order!
- Will a radio campaign drive pitches for TV or touring?
- How will that factor into PR?
- How much will it help the ultimate goal?
- Which member(s) will do the tour press?
- Can we spread requests around to avoid burnout from the singer (or whoever handles the bulk of press interviews) doing too many interviews?
- What new outlets or angles can we explore here?
- How can we maximize the band's digital profile?
- Should we write columns? Contributions? Guest blogs?
- Should we target new lifestyle publications?
- What's fresh or what haven't we done that we should do?
This is not all encompassing. But it does comprise all of the key questions and elements that need to be asked and considered.
Obviously, the timeline and targets for a developing band will be quite different. Imagine this is a dialogue between yourself, your bandmates, or any team member you may have already, which could be a manager, a publicist, or both. This could apply to a band newly signed to a label or one that's unsigned. The signed vs. unsigned status could lead to some amendments in this general checklist, but overall, there would be quite a bit of similarity.
For developing bands, protection is low priority; be glad that people are listening and/or leaking it. It creates a buzz, and CD sales aren't how you will make money. You need to create a profile early.
Who should we try to get to cover this? At this stage, the answer is simple: everyone. There shouldn't be many denials of press coverage here or any preciousness. But it's best to come up with local and realistic targets.
Long leads should get music first, simply because they are long leads and work so far in advance. But it's smart to follow quickly with short leads, since you're looking to all outlets to help create a buzz.
Is there a need to create exclusive content for press outlets? The big question you need to ask is this: will it be beneficial in some way for the outlet? That's the main factor when deciding the who and what with a piece of exclusive content. If you're up and coming, well, an outlet might not see much ROI in terms of clicks or traffic. But if they dig you and their main goal is to give developing bands a shot, they may take a chance. That's the way you need to look at this aspect.
Radio and tour press
These aspects are combined here, since they need to be considered as you go. Will you have a radio campaign? Or are you not ready for it? Will you be touring? If you're the first of six bands on a three-week tour, you need to work on making an impression on the people at the shows first and think about regional press second. If you have a publicist on board, he or she will take care of that. But if you're doing it yourself, worry about putting on a good show first.
This should be your bread and butter at all times. Find and make friends in this realm. Hit up any and all local writers or outlets first. Be proactive with the media in your market and in your genre. Get on their radar sooner than later.
Again, this is by no means complete or comprehensive, but does highlight the differences in approaching a campaign based on status and history.
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- 5 Ways to Maximize Your Music PR Campaign Before It Even Starts
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.