Your album is finished and your tour is organised. You think the hard work is done? Wrong. In actual fact, it is only just getting started.
In the modern music industry just having new content or going out on the road simply isn't enough. You are competing against more fellow artists and musicians than ever before and let's face it, no matter how good your product is, it will mean nothing if no-one hears or sees it.
You can't rely on reputation, talent, ability, popularity, passion, dedication or contacts alone. All of these things do help of course, but you can have an abundance of each of these traits and still falter because the public - your fans and target audience - are unaware that you have something to sell.
This is where PR comes in. For all of the (growing DIY) people out there, unfortunately, try as you may, you will not be able to promote your product as quickly or efficiently as an established PR professional or company.
These people have an established client base, contacts that are catered towards your particular needs or music, and inside knowledge of the way the music industry works that only comes through a constant presence in the marketplace.
By all means, promote your product as much as you can yourself, but if you rely on this as your only source of promotion you severely restrict your opportunities for success.
Before making an initial approach to a potential publicist it is essential that you have a clear vision of exactly what you are wanting to promote and how you want to do it. There are a number of different promotional campaigns you can utilise, the most popular of which is a National Campaign, which should be started three to four months ahead of any music release, followed by a Tour Press Campaign, which should commence four to six weeks before your first show. Timing here is more of the essence than ever before, with the publicist you entrust with promotion needing these minimum time frames to be able to promote your product to maximum potential.
Ensure you have things like a band biography, band photos, EPKs, schedules and dates ready to share with your chosen publicist as this information is an essential component in putting together your campaign. Some companies will offer services for all of these items, but they will all incur an additional and usually exorbitant fee. The more you can prepare for yourself the less you have to pay someone else so make a list of what you will need and make a concerted effort to keep as much of it in-house as possible.
You should start looking around for a suitable publicist as soon as possible, preferably in the initial stages of an album or planning a tour, so as to find the best fit for your band and music. Not all publicists will be as effective promoting your band and you should look into as many as possible before making any approaches. Be sure that the publicists who make the shortlist are the right fit for your band musically and have a proven track record in the market. With the internet at your fingertips in modern society, it is not difficult to research potential publicists and read feedback on their efforts.
Once you have a few potential publicists in mind, you should send them a short email with your music and a brief history of the band. Do not be shy to tell them exactly what you want from them and why you think you should work together. Send links to your best work and your EPK, and briefly explain your plan and vision of want you want from them. If you have any live shows coming up, invite them so you can ascertain if they have a genuine interest in your music, and always keep in mind that they are working for you and must provide you with a service, rather than being overly demanding and abrupt. It is important that you connect with your potential publicist and they believe in your product.
Talk money as soon as possible and ask for an outline of where your money is going and what you will receive in return. Campaigns are not cheap and at this stage of your campaign you cannot simply choose the cheapest. You have to be prepared to outlay a significant amount of money, but don't naturally assume that the most expensive is necessarily the best. Do not be shy to ask for payment plans or a plan to suit your budget. Each publicist will have different contacts and methods that specialise in a particular genre/s of music and if your band is not the right fit musically, you should continue looking.
You must also prepare yourself for the fact that no campaign is guaranteed. A publicist will put your product out there, but they cannot make people gravitate towards it. Your product must be solid and marketable for them to do their job effectively. You must have patience and be prepared to self promote to the best of your ability. It is also important that you maintain a line of communication with your publicist to stay on top of things. Make sure you constantly update your social media sites and share any interviews or reviews, as well as take every opportunity to promote yourself through existing channels.
Prepare yourself for the fact you may have to do interviews as a result of the campaign so work out who within the band will be doing the majority of the interviews or make a plan so that each member is available to put time aside for media.
The most important thing you can do is prepare yourselves mentally for the demands that come with different phases of the campaign. You must commit to putting a sustained effort into working with and alongside your chosen publicist, and you must also know individual roles in the process.
Remember to talk things over with your band and manager before making decisions and listen to your publicist; and respect their methods but also know that it is YOUR campaign and you have a right to be kept informed of how your product is being promoted. Stay involved, and stay on top of things, and do everything you can to be a part of the process.
Aside from that, have fun! It can be a gruelling and tiresome period of activity, but will (hopefully) ultimately be the platform from which to advance your music.
Words by Kris Peters