What to Expect When Hiring a Publicist
As a someone who works with musicians on a daily basis, I am often asked about aspects of the industry that are not within my area of expertise. Publicity is one of them. Many artists ask me if I can refer them to a publicist who can help them gain more exposure. I find that many artists have an unrealistic idea of what publicity involves and what can be achieved with a single campaign. With that in mind, I asked my friend Angela Mastrogiacomo, owner of Muddy Paw PR to talk about what an artist’s expectations should be when working with a publicist.
What should an artist expect?
When I first started doing music PR about a year and a half ago, I had no idea the kind of inquiries I’d encounter. But since launching my company, Muddy Paw PR, I’ve heard a wide array of questions, comments, and general beliefs about what different artists think PR is, and in turn, what they expect to get out of a campaign. Sometimes, these expectations are realistic. A lot of times, they’re not.
But here’s the thing. I love my job. I mean, really love it, and a big part of that is because of the artists we work with. Getting to work with so many passionate people on a regular basis is not only a joy; it’s really a privilege. And I get that diving into a PR campaign can be pretty scary. So to help minimize all those little surprises, I’ve compiled three of the biggest misconceptions and expectations artists have when approaching a campaign—and the reality of them.
What kind of guarantee can I get?
Sadly, none. Any PR company that tells you they can guarantee X amount of placements is likely either lying, or using some questionable tactics. This is often the hardest reality to break to potential clients, and the question I hear the most. Believe me, I understand the pain of hearing these words when you’re shelling out your hard earned money. But it’s important to understand that while placements are a goal, they’re a short term goal, and you should never discount the often unseen, unheard effects of our long term goal: to get your name in front of influential industry professional.
I always tell people that the goal of PR is to plant a seed, and let it grow. To give influential people an artist’s name, and make that name recognizable. So, even if they don’t show interest in that artist today or a month from now, when they hear that name again in a month, six months, a year, they’ll recognize it, it will mean something, and that is success.
Will I be on Rolling Stone/Pitchfork etc?
Maybe, but it probably won’t be today. As a growing band, it’s important to understand your audience, and grow with them. So, for a smaller band, I’d expect placements in small-medium size blogs. For a medium sized band, I’d target medium blogs, with a few larger outlets. While it’s important to always have “dream” goals, it’s just as important to be realistic in your approach. Never turn your nose up at small to medium sized outlets, or think you’re too good for them. Not only do those outlets tend to have a fiercely tight, loyal following, but they are also the people that as you grow, will continue to follow and support you. And don’t forget—many bloggers work for multiple publications. So if you give that start up blog your respect, and attention, when they go on to write for a much larger publication, they’ll remember that. It’s all about relationships, my friends.
Will my album sales/Facebook/Twitter likes increase?
Before I work with a new band, I always send them a questionnaire to get a feel for what they’re looking for, and what they view as success. More often than not the answers that come back include “I view success as an increase in album sales/gaining 1,000 new Facebook likes.” Boy, I sure wish that were a reality.
Although you wouldn’t be out of line to hope for a slight increase in likes/sales/follows, it should not be your main measure of success. Think about it. How many times have you been into a new band, but not necessarily run out to download their new album, or instantly followed them all over the web? For better or worse, it takes us time to warm up to new acts, and while we might find ourselves head bopping to their new song, it doesn’t mean we want to instantly integrate them into our personal lives. But don’t worry, it’s not all so grim. This goes back to what I was mentioning before about the importance of knowing a name. They may not instantly fall in love with you the first time they see your name or hear your music. But what about when they see it on another blog they follow six months from now? Or hear it next time they’re talking to a friend? Never underestimate the power of familiarity.
Angela Mastrogiacomo is the owner of Muddy Paw Public Relations. Muddy Paw specializes in working with up and coming artists on personalized campaigns designed to bring their careers to the next level. To date, we’ve secured placements on sites such as AbsolutePunk, Substream, Property Of Zack, PureVolume, Anti-Music, and many more. You can find us at www.MuddyPawPR.com