Going all in on a PR campaign for your newest release can be one of the smartest investments you make. In fact, I’d put it up there as a non-negotiable cost with every major new release, right alongside professional recordings, promo photos, and a killer release show. Yet, many artists view this as an optional cost. They’ll spend thousands on a strong recording, only to plead brokenness when it comes time to hiring a professional to promote it—then wonder why it didn’t see any kind of buzz.
But just as dangerous as not having a PR plan in place is having one, only to then raise your expectations to an unrealistic level. You know what I’m talking about. It’s the artist that invests in PR and then, because they’re nervous about spending the money, expects that from that couple thousand dollars they should get a placement on Pitchfork or Stereogum, and that the labels will start approaching them, and they’ll get asked to play higher caliber shows.
And truth be told, if you invest in continuous PR, whether from a professional or from learning the trade yourself, and you keep at it with high quality content, engaging social media pages, and shows that people talk about, you will almost certainly get to a level where one or all of those things begin to happen for you.
But it won’t be the first time.
It probably won’t be the second time either.
PR is a marathon, not a sprint, and when you enter any facet of this industry, you are in it for the long game, and that means having patience when it comes to growing your career, and not placing unrealistic expectations on your publicist (or your manager, or a label, or anyone else that isn’t you) to do the work for you.
If any of these sound familiar to you, you may want to re-think your mindset around PR, because nothing kills your chance at success faster than these things.
If you’ve ever said something like: “Yeah, I hired a PR company and they got me placements but like, they were just small blogs. I could have done that.”
Could you? Are you sure about that? If so, then why hire a publicist? If you thought hiring a professional meant they would suddenly have magic powers and be able to defy all rules of the industry to get you a major placement when you haven’t updated your social media in a week and no one is liking your posts when you do, then I hate to break it to you, but you’re blaming the wrong person.
It’s important to go into a campaign with realistic expectations—something your publicist and you should talk about before signing. While there may be some one-off higher tier placements, it’s important to know that most emerging artists start off with placements on smaller blogs. Which is ok! There is a LOT of value in small blogs (see here) and believe me when I say that you need the support of those “small blog” writers and their audience to grow your audience. Not to mention, you know what those small blogs have that the larger ones don’t? An interest in you. So get off your pedestal, be grateful, and spread that feature everywhere you can, because however small you think that buzz is, it is still buzz, and if you keep working at it, I promise it will lead to even bigger buzz. Which leads me to my second point…
If you don’t share and tag when an outlet writes about you
This industry is all about relationships, and you better believe that the people at the smallest blogs are connected to the people at the biggest blogs (And often go on to write for them), so you really don’t want to get on their bad side. Be willing to support those who support you, and never be above any coverage. This means sharing all the features you get, and tagging the outlets that were kind enough to write them. If you don’t, you’re sending a message that you’re above it, that it isn’t good enough for you, and that you don’t value their time—and that’s an attitude that rarely sees success in the industry these days.
If you spend so much time focusing on the future, that you don’t enjoy your present successes
It’s good to have goals, and you should aspire to major placements, major label deals, and national tours one day if that’s your thing. But if you’re so dead set on the “one day” scenarios that you have your eyes closed to what’s in front of you right now, then you’re going to miss a lot of wonderful moments and experiences.
For instance, you’re going to miss the joy of getting a placement in a smaller blog where the writer truly believes in you, where your lyrics had a profound effect. You know, the moment you may have changed someone’s life. You’re going to miss the joy of an intimate basement show with 50 of your closest fans. You’re going to skip right over the joy of spending time with friends and family because you’re not touring 250 days out of the year.
There’s a lot of amazing experiences to be had on the way to the top, and I bet if you asked any successful musician who has gotten everything they ever thought they wanted, they’ll tell you those are the things they miss most. So don’t take it for granted. Gratitude breeds great things, and the more you enjoy what you have, while still striving for everything you want, the more of it you’ll begin to see in your life.
You’re destined for great things, but don’t get so caught up in the future that you forget to live in the present. There’s a lot of things that right now has to offer you too—and you don’t want to miss it.
Angela Mastrogiacomo is a pop-punk enthusiast and the founder and CEO of Muddy Paw PR and Infectious Magazine. You can find hanging out with her dog, eating sweets, and curled up with a good book. Read more at http://angelamastrogiacomo.com/