I can't begin to tell you how many times I've heard the following two statements:
"We don't need press."
"Press doesn't do anything for an artist."
I want to chat about both of these statements and provide some insight on why they're (usually) false.
Although press campaigns are subjective (publicists have no say in which editors/writers/ publications choose to write about their artists; it's the publication's choice), having a proper marketing plan that includes hiring a publicist is crucial to your release. There's a difference between forking up $1500 a month to a public relations company that goes AWOL on you week one (we see it happen more often than you'd think), and agreeing on a reasonable, monthly fee for a press campaign with a firm that is personable, upfront, organized, and hard-working. This is often where I see artists turn hesitant - nobody wants to cough up cash (especially as an unsigned artist with no existing capital) to a publicist who makes empty promises or doesn't provide updates and transparency.
We can't promise that X publication will write about your release, because we aren't one of the editors. We can't promise that you'll be interviewed X amount of times during the duration of our campaign, because we don't know if that many publications will be interested in interviewing you. Public relations companies that make those kinds of promises are the ones to be weary of, but not every publicist will. Do your research - you are paying a publicist for their services, not promises (I cannot stress this enough).
So why is hiring a publicist crucial to your release?
1. You're adding another member to your team that is going to be working for you, taking a good portion off of your already-overflowing to do list. I send around 2,000 emails a week for our artists, seeking press opportunities, following up on pitches, etc. Although no coverage is guaranteed, you are bringing someone credible on board who has the contacts and is doing the work for you to get your music in the ears of new listeners.
2. A publicist can help craft your branding and fill in missing gaps. Your brand is what sells you to any publication. For example, even if you have just a base idea on how to announce your upcoming release, a publicist can round it out with an idea on announce times, how to post about it on social media, sending a press release to help spread the word, and offering up branding ideas.
3. The opportunity to expand your industry contacts. If your publicist pitches you to a publication that falls in loooove with your upcoming release, they're likely to keep you on their radar in the future. The more that like you, the more write about you, the more help promote you... see where the chain is going?
4. Offering advice and experience. Publicists have experience in many facets of the industry, including social media usage, branding, and marketing. I love passing along quick tips to our artists; sometimes it pertains to Spotify or other social media apps. Other times, I'll write out some suggestions for branded social media posts that they can use. No matter what category the advice falls in, a publicist is always a good person to use if you're looking for an outside opinion or some extra help.
5. You're allowing the opportunity to introduce yourself to potential listeners. Every interview, guest blog, or feature is a chance to show your colors - let readers know who you are, what you're about, and why they should be listening to you.
6. In my opinion and experience, the most important answer to this question is expanding your audience. As an example, let's say that a publication with 5,000 likes on Facebook interviews you, and posts that interview to their website and all social media accounts. A few days later, a review of your EP goes live on another publication's website that has an average monthly reach of 25,000 users. The audiences add up, no matter how large or small. The more places your music is, the more your reach expands to a larger overall audience. I always tell our artists to show appreciation and support for every single publication that writes or posts about them. You never know how their site may grow in the future, but besides that, they're introducing your music to potential new listeners that may have never heard of your music otherwise.
Publicists aren't magicians. It's impossible to determine exactly what publications will be interested in writing about who, and although we choose who we pitch to carefully, it's always a roll of the dice. On the opposite end, if a publicist gets you some coverage that you don't promote/post about, you don't answer their emails in a timely manner, or take weeks to fill out an interview, the ball is in your court - you have the power to control half of the narrative. You must be ready to take on the demand of the quick and efficient communication a press campaign requires to be 'successful'.
Playlisting is not a marketing or press plan - especially seeing as we live in a world of increasing Spotify payola (don't get me started). Although press coverage isn't guaranteed, it's important to bring someone on board who understands your goals, communicates efficiently, and wants to work on your behalf. Is their clientele extensive, or is it focused? Are you looking to focus on advertising, or do you want the chance to solidify your identity through traditional press coverage? Are you ready (and willing) to have a two-way communicative relationship with your publicist? These are all questions you should be able to answer if you're considering setting aside a budgeted amount to hire a publicist. Whoever you choose to work with, do your research. Read reviews. Vet through their website. Ask questions. Hiring a publicist will help expand your reach and establish your brand - just remember to keep an open mind about the process and work just as hard as them in return.
Want to chat running a campaign for your upcoming release? Send us a love note.