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How Rock Bands Shoot Their PR in the Foot

by Topher Kelly
music & audio

iStock_000025450904SmallMaking it — and even just making a living — in the music industry depends on more than raw talent. Does it matter that you killed that show last night if no one was around to hear it? Driving the success of (almost) every musician is a symbiotic relationship with a skilled, driven publicist.

There aren’t many musicians out there who are motivated to produce music in order to – later on – spend their time pitching their band to reporters. Instead, successful musicians understand that PR is a necessary part of getting buzz and growing an audience. Since many bands don’t have the necessary experience to build PR campaigns from the ground up, most end up hiring a professional to help out.

In a recent blog post on SonicBids, publicist Alyssa DeHayes outlined how bands usually sabotage their own PR campaigns.

Lack of Planning

“Lack of lead time is a killer,” says Alyssa. While bands rarely rush to the recording process, once they are finished with a record, they try make it available far too quickly. What they do not understand is industry publications plan their content out months in advance. Even bloggers plan out editorial calendars far in advance. If you rush the release of your record, there simply won’t be any room in the press and creating a buzz will be extremely difficult. “You will see better results with more lead time, and you may shoot yourself in the foot if you try to rush things,” Alyssa stresses.

Poor Communication

Bands that do not spend the time to educate and communicate with their publicist will not reap the benefits of their services. All bands should indicate where they want to be highlighted in the industry – from blogs to music stores to fan bases – so that the publicist knows where to spend extra time and energy. That said, There is such a thing as over communicating.“Every hour your publicist spends responding to your emails and going over everything with you on conference calls is an hour they aren’t spending doing the job you hired them to do. Find a balance between good communication, and nonstop emails and phone calls to ask questions which would be answered in your next scheduled report.”

It’s all about being respectful of other people’s time and knowing how to be efficient.

Terrible Attitudes

Terrible attitudes lead to terrible decisions. It’s important to remember that you and your publicists are on the same team. They are fighting for you to get as much press as possible, so if you don’t make the front page of that magazine this time around, don’t believe it’s because they didn’t try. More importantly, if you don’t like a write-up you received in a publication, it’s not recommending that you contact the writer directly. It’s best left up to the communicator that you are paying to do exactly that – communicate with the press! “It only seems to complicate things when I learn that a band is also pitching the same writers I’m pitching, or worse, when they’ve sent an angry email to someone who gave them negative coverage, or no coverage at all. People typically don’t want to support someone who is rude to them.”

So if you’re band is at the point where you believe a little PR help is in order, remember that it’s not all about writing a check. It takes some work to make sure they can do their best to help you.

To read Alyssa’s story in its entirety, click here.

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Topher Kelly

Topher Kelly is a San Francisco-based freelance writer and editor at CreativeLive. Follow Topher on Twitter@Topher_LIVE.