Guest blogger, Mark Brandt is the newest addition to our team and he's kicking off with an absolute stormer of a blog on how to work with a PR Company. Mark is a publicist at Dewar PR, a PR and marketing agency specializing in effective hard rock and metal promotion, so it's safe to say he knows what he's talking about. You can check out Mark's previous work on his website here but make sure you come back because this is a good one!
It seems nowadays that, at least among bands, working with a PR is a bit of a mystery. We work magic behind the scenes, and suddenly hey presto! You’ve got reviews and interviews flying around, more people are listening to your music and coming to your shows, and merch is flying off the shelf. However, what we do is actually relatively simple, but it does require some provisos from the band’s end. I thought I would unravel some of this mystery, and give tips on how best to work with us, particularly if this is your first campaign.
Keep Your PR In The Loop
The first and most important thing, which I stress to every single band I work with: communicate. Yes, I have put that word in italics and underlined it, because it is the most important part of working with a PR. If there are two parties doing completely unrelated things without even a heads-up to each other, at some point they will clonk heads.
So, what kind of things do you need to communicate?
Firstly, and this may sound draconian, but check with the PR as to what you’re allowed to announce on your social media. In particular, time-sensitive information: new album details, guest musicians, upcoming tour dates; these are all things that PRs will be using in press releases to send out to their media contacts. A piece of information that is already common knowledge on Facebook and Twitter is automatically devalued than if it’s exclusive content. So you will most likely get fewer news items if you jump the gun and share it with your fans beforehand.
On a more serious level, there needs to be communication concerning streaming. Many people, myself included, wholly advocate the use of Bandcamp, both on the side of bands and fans, and even labels are getting in on the action. If you as a band want to upload your album onto there or a similar streaming/download service, that is perfectly fine. However, if you are going to do so, let your PR know in advance. If they have told press contacts that your album is due out on 25th June, and press come across it on Bandcamp on 1st June, that will have an adverse effect on the campaign, and jeopardise coverage. A site is much less likely to run a song or album stream if it’s already on Bandcamp, because as I’ve stated, it’s not exclusive content. Some sites are even less likely to review an album unless they have an advance copy of it. So if you do upload your album onto Bandcamp, keep it private and let the PR know so they can arrange a date that suits both parties.
If you have approached a PR company, you should be aware of what you want to achieve with the campaign. Not just “we want to be famous,” though, PRs need specifics. Do you want more interviews? More radio play? More shows in bigger venues? Do you want to be swimming in reviews? A larger online fanbase? Any high quality PR will know how to focus on individual areas to get a band where they want to be, but if you don’t tell them, they won’t know.
Similarly, know your weaknesses, and any potential obstacles we may need to overcome in the campaign. If you struggle to get your point across in interviews, if you foresee delays in the recording studio, if you’ve got terrible internet connection and take a while to respond to e-mails, it is extremely important you let us know as soon as possible. That way we can adjust our campaign, keep press in the loop, and if something crops up on our end, we can let you know quickly, even if it means an international phone call.
Pay Attention To Your Online Presence
A small handful of bands have a certain knack for promoting a particular kind of personality online, one full of swagger and arrogance without coming across as unpleasant (Lich King and The Hell come to mind). However, chances are you do not have the luxury to start cultivating this kind of presence from the start.
Where this can crop up rather interestingly is in the unfortunate circumstance that you receive negative reviews of your music. While it’s completely understandable that unkind words about your creative work can be hurtful, do not take to lashing out at the reviewer when posting the review link. Some reviews are not worth sharing - trolling ones in particular - but if someone knocks your new record while providing constructive criticism, it behooves you to at least share their work, and not to attempt to spark your fans’ ire with saying ‘Look what this *expletive* wrote about us!”
On a related note, coverage that you get on news items also has share value, even if it’s the same news item through different sites. This serves two purposes: to show the band are getting coverage in various places, and if you stagger the posts correctly you can target different time zones. Five articles one after the other about the same news item will just annoy your fans with a clogged newsfeed.
Be Proactive And Driven
My final point to make may seem like common sense, but it’s surprising how few bands follow this advice; if you hire a PR, you cannot just kick your heels up and let them work their magic, and suddenly you’re an ‘overnight sensation.’ The most successful campaigns by far, regardless of the goals that you set, will always be the ones where you match your PR in enthusiasm.
Actively put your name out there wherever you go. Post on social media regularly, but effectively (that means avoiding random pictures of the band having dinner on Facebook); share the coverage that you get; invite family, friends and strangers to listen to your music; play every gig like it’s your last; and be courteous to everyone you meet, whether industry bigwig or fan-to-be. If you show how eager you are to succeed, then there is a much higher chance that success will come your way.
Now you know how to seamlessly work with a PR company, do you feel ready to go? Recruit a PR company by posting a project on our site.