Although you may be eager to try and get your music in front of as many eyes as possible, and hiring publicist may seem like the best way to make this happen, it's important to make sure you can check off these four boxes before laying down the cash necessary to hire a publicist.
When you’re itching to get your music out there in front of bigger audiences, it can seem like there’s no better time than the present to hire a publicist and really invest in your band. Before you make the leap, be sure to review these four essential checklist items to know whether now is the right time to bring a publicist onto your team.
1. You Have New Content to Promote
This is simultaneously the most important and the most often overlooked piece of the PR (public relations) puzzle. When you’re thinking about hiring a publicist, ask yourself: What new content do I have to offer? By new, I mean brand-spanking new. An album that was released four months ago won’t cut it, and a music video that’s been out a year does not qualify.
The time to promote new content to the media is as soon as it drops (or, ideally, before if you’re talking about an album campaign — those typically begin eight weeks prior to release). A publicist can only work with what he or she is given, so offering him or her content that’s considered old in the eyes of the media and expecting a miracle will leave you feeling disappointed.
To avoid ending up in this dilemma, make sure you plan your releases out well in advance and allow yourself plenty of time to focus on strategy, finding the right PR partner, identifying your audience, and making sure you’re prepared to give journalists exactly what they want.
2. You Have a Budget in Place
Let’s talk money for a moment. I know that your recording probably cost a fortune and that, as an emerging band, cash is tight. But if you want to have the most successful release possible, and you’re not able to DIY your own campaign, you’re going to need to set aside a budget to hire a professional, and that takes time and dedication.
PR costs vary wildly depending on company size, reach, and a million other factors. They can run the gamut of anywhere from $500 to $1,000+ per month and require a three-month commitment for an album or EP release. If you want to be safe, budget towards the middle to higher end of that spectrum and consider anything extra a nest egg for your next release.
There are tons of ways to fund this stuff if your band hasn’t set aside some money for it. Think about engaging your most devoted fans with a crowdfunding campaign, possibly grant funding the project with an innovative release strategy, or selling merch through your web and social channels. If you happen to be earning more than pennies through streaming royalties, a lot of artists these days are reinvesting their annual royalties towards growth-hacking efforts like publicity.
+ Learn more on Soundfly: Learn the ins and outs of running a successful, strategic crowdfunding campaign with our new course, Crowdfunding for Musicians.
3. You’re Ready to Work (Hard)
There’s this expectation in PR that once an artist hires a publicist, he or she just sits back and watches the features roll in. Unfortunately that couldn’t be further from the truth. A successful PR campaign is one in which the publicist and artist collaborate, drawing off each other’s energy, inspiration, and knowledge. It’s the artist’s responsibility to continually update the publicist on any new developments and content so that he or she can properly incorporate those assets into the campaign.
Likewise, it’s up to the publicist to keep the artist informed of any and all campaign progress. The more you work with your publicist instead of expecting him or her to create miracles, the more successful your campaign will be. In other words, put in the hustle, and don’t wait around for results.
+ Read more on Flypaper: “Madam West on How to Hustle as a Musician”
4. Your Social Media Game is on Point
I know, I know, this is a topic that plagues a lot of bands. It’s tough to keep up with social media, especially when there are so many platforms to tend to. But this is one of those necessary evils that will impact your success rate with a PR campaign (and likely other facets of the industry), so it really needs to be up to par.
This doesn’t necessarily equal huge “like” and “follow” numbers, but you do have to be posting regularly and engaging with fans. It’s that engagement and regularity that will help a blog determine if the writer’s efforts posting about your band will be well worth it (i.e., turn into exposure for the blog). Once the outlet does post about your band, don’t forget to share and tag it on all of your social platforms.
This is how you build relationships and say thank you!
Ready to go out and get some publicity for your band? We here at Flypaper have curated a collection of articles on music marketing just for you! Check them out here.
Angela Mastrogiacomo is a pop-punk enthusiast and the founder and CEO of Muddy Paw PR and Infectious Magazine. She’s also an industry coach that specializes in helping artists and entrepreneurs overcome their doubts and make their mark on the world. You can find hanging out with her dog, eating sweets, and curled up with a good book.