Industry Spotlight: Natalie Camillo (Adrenaline PR)

Hello and welcome to the very first ‘Industry Spotlight’ feature of the week. We are thrilled to have you with us this afternoon, and we hope you will make it a point to stop by regularly from here on out. This blog exists to promote and inspire the future of music business, but we are only able to do that if we receive input from our readers. If you have any questions regarding the content of this blog, or if you would like to learn more information about the services offered by Haulix, please email james@haulix.com and share your thoughts. If you have any questions regarding the content of this blog, or if you would like to learn more information about the services offered by Haulix, please email james@haulix.com and share your thoughts. We can also be found on Twitter and Facebook.

You may or may not remember this, but earlier this month we spent two days sharing the story of Adrenaline PR founder Maria Ferrero. Today we are adding a second chapter to the story of Adrenaline PR thanks to an in-depth conversation with Senior Publicist Natalie Camillo, which you can find a few paragraphs below.

Natalie and I have been working together professionally for at least half a decade at this point, and in that time she has been able to align herself with a number of reputable bands and brands from across the music industry. Writing this now I am struggling to recall a single week in the last several years that has passed without some kind of contact from her, and from the way she describes her passion for music in this interview it’s not hard to imagine she will continue that trend of constant contact for many years to come. She’s what some might call a lifer in the industry, and truth be told it’s dedicated people like her that make it possible for the rest of us to hope for the overall growth of our industry in the years to come. 

If you would like to learn more about Natalie and her efforts in music after reading this post, please make it a point to follow Adrenaline PR on Twitter. Additional questions and comments should be left at the end of this post.

H: Hey there, thank you for joining us. Before we dive in, please take a moment to introduce yourself:

N: Natalie Camillo, senior publicist and campaign manager at Adrenaline PR!

H: We like to begin every interview by learning a bit about the life of the people we are speaking with. Tell me, what are your earliest memories of music?

N: My earliest memories of music are sitting with my Grandpa Camillo in his basement listening to Frank Sinatra by the fire (that I was always throwing newspaper into and stinking up the place), and getting my first radio at the age of 9 and discovering modern pop music for the first time. My mother and father raised me on oldies, jazz and classic rock until I was about that age.

H: How about the first album you ever purchased with your own money?

N: I have no idea what that would be… probably some nu metal album. But the first album that was ever given to me was probably Smash Mouth’s Fush Yu Mang, or possibly a Frank Sinatra box set. I loved Frank Sinatra when I was little… he might as well have been the only recording artist on the planet.

H: Can you recall the first artist or group you obsessed over? Bonus points if you share an early ‘crazy fan’ moment from your life.

N: I have no shame. I loved *NSYNC and the Spice Girls when I was little. Come on… a little girl coming into her own in the late 90’s? I had to have been about 10 when that stuff first got big… I had Justin Timberlake posters all over my wall. I begged my dad to paint my bedroom walls baby blue when I turned 12 because it was Justin’s favorite color. Yep – I was that kid. Somewhere between that and my introduction to rock radio and nu metal on my middle school bus, I started buying Disturbed, Korn and Incubus CD’s… and thus began my love of heavy music. Everyone has to start somewhere, I unfortunately lived in a country town with no venues or any sort of scene, so radio really was the only introduction to new music I had. Around the same time, I also had a fast introduction to a lot of electronic music, and later on in high school I got into some punk and even rap music. I had a good, well-rounded source of influence.
I don’t believe I ever really had a crazy fan moment until I was already working at this job, and at this point it didn’t have the same “sparkle” because I had the professional face on. I can safely say, however, that I often have those “surreal moment” flashbacks where I think, “Man, 14-year-old me would have just FREAKED OUT after meeting that person. How crazy is it that 15 years ago I would have never known that I’d be working with these rock stars I idolized back then”. At 14, I was rocking out on a school bus with my discman… now I’m 27 and talking with these guys directly, scheduling their press days at festivals. Nuts. I mean… Chester and Mike of Linkin Park were standing within a foot of me at the Revolver Golden Gods last month… that was pretty insane. Again, a “14-year-old me” moment. Hybrid Theory is still a great record.

H: They say everyone has a series of moments or experiences in life that steer them towards the careers they ultimately pursue. Are you able to pinpoint any moments in your life that flipped the switched on the ‘publicity’ bulb?

N: I actually wanted to get my start in metal radio promotions, but publicity is where I ended up (and gladly so). Same horse, different color. I realized that I wanted to work in metal in college – again, I always had a love for heavy music but once I got involved with my college radio station, I quickly became the person in charge of CMJ Loud Rock charting, which also meant I chose all of the heavy music rotation. I was in talks with industry folks every day, learning about the industry and the inner workings of promotions. It seemed right up my alley, so I began to pursue it.

H: If you could offer one piece of advice to aspiring publicity professionals who may be reading this now, what would it be?

N: Internships. Internships. Internships. Follow your gut and push as hard as you can (within reason) to reach your goals. Never let anyone tell you that you can’t do something.

H: What are the biggest challenges facing publicists today?

N: Publications not having enough staff to get features done or willingness to try new things to get new bands into their pages, younger bands thinking they know more about publicity or what’s press-worthy than the seasoned publicists they’ve hired, managers not willing to follow our lead or try new things… there’s always something, but in the end, everything works out and everyone works as a team to reach the best endgame.

H: More specifically, what are the biggest challenges facing Adrenaline PR today? Finding clients? Growth? Recognition? What are the problems you are working to solve at the moment?

N: We’re pretty easy going, problem-free people, and we like to squash things before they can even become a problem… so nothing really. We grow more every year and come into bigger and better projects as time goes on based on increased company awareness and many successful campaigns.

H: Without going too in-depth, please walk us through a typical day at work:

N: Every day is different and each of us here have different tasks, but I’ll try to cover it all. Answering emails and phone calls (as well as writing them and making them, obviously) which pertain to all of the below: pitching national and regional press on records/events/tours, setting up interviews and preview press, setting up exclusive press and marketing opportunities like track streams/contesting/music video debuts, etc. and planning with/making timelines for the clients that portray those marketing plans, servicing music digitally (with HAULIX, of course) and following up on that distribution, working on financial documents and keeping track of new and potential clients, gathering and organizing press into outlined reports for our clients, writing a few press releases per day and getting approvals with clients, setting up packed press days for bands in large markets, getting guest list approvals with venues for festivals, club shows, etc., editing our website, keeping track of tour dates and itineraries (lovely PR mavens Arielle and Ally in our office handle the majority of that, however), sending out day sheets/press schedules/guest lists to tour managers and clients… oh, and HAVING FUN! Lots of that. It’s a lot of work, but it’s simple once you have the hang of it and know how to manage your time. It’s good working with all driven, like-minded women in an open and easy-going environment.

H: What are your current career goals?

N: To see where the road takes me… I like being here and I haven’t thought much past it, as irresponsible as some may thing that sounds.

H: What is one thing you hope Adrenaline is able to accomplish this year?

N: We’re doing well – so the goal is to keep that going and keep making a difference for our clients!

H: If you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be?

N: There are a lot of things I’d like to change, and this is a very open-ended question. To keep it simple – I think people should be more open minded about a lot of things.

H: You have been a Haulix client for a while now. What do you like about our service?

N: I love the security aspect as well as the ability to truly track what people are doing with the promos. It takes the guessing game out of, “…well I spent a bunch of money to send a ton of packages out that I hope made it to their final destination… and I’m hoping these folks answer their emails and phone calls when I reach out to check on the packages.” You can see what’s going on, you can reference whether someone got their email, opened it, even listened to it or downloaded it, etc. And my favorite – the ability to create reports to follow up with people based on what they’ve done with the promo.

H: Are there any opening at Adrenaline PR? If so, how should those interested in joining the team go about applying?

N: Email maria@adrenalinepr.com

H: What should artists reading this ask themselves before hiring a publicist?

N: Do you have enough to promote before you take that plunge and make that investment? If you are just a group of guys playing a few basement shows in your hometown and not releasing any music or doing much of anything, you may want to consider waiting until you have something to promote before you dive into the PR pool.

H: What is the biggest misconception people have about publicity/publicists?

N: I’m going to have to second what Maria said. You aren’t going to hire PR and get a platinum record and end up on the cover of Rolling Stone based on that fact alone. A lot of cooks need to be in the kitchen to build up an artist. It takes a village to raise a child…

H: Aside from paychecks and steady employment, how do you measure you personal level of success at what you do?

N: When a client takes the time to say “thank you” or “you’re doing a great job” or even the rare, “we couldn’t have done this without you guys”… that’s really what makes it for me. I know things are truly going well when people take the time to show us appreciation for the hard work.

H: Natalie, from what I have been able to learn prior to this interview it seems a large portion of your industry experience began after entering college. That said, you actually attended York College of Pennsylvania to study communications and the music industry, correct?

N: I did. However, I feel that my extra-curricular activities are what really propelled me into this industry. Specifically working with my college radio station, WVYC, as the FM Program Director and Loud Rock Director (metal music management, for lack of a better term… who at CMJ came up with the term loud rock, anyway?).

H: Did you have any idea publicity would be where you wanted to end up at this time, or was there perhaps another area of the music industry you thought you would work in?

N: I think I was looking towards metal radio promotions, but publicity is just where I ended up based on my job search towards the end of college. I’m happy with my decision, obviously.

H: Like many of our previous guests, you spent a lot of your time in college working for the campus radio station. What can you tell us about your time in that program and the lessons/skills learned?

N: In the most basic terms, I learned how to be a team player and a business professional in a music industry setting. WVYC offered me my first whack at working with real industry professionals in publicity and radio promotion, plus my first position managing anything, really. Those industry professionals steered me towards my vital internship opportunities and all of the conferences and events I took part in that allowed me to network and expand my contacts. Had I not nurtured a few of those relationships (some of which I still have intact today with several managers and publicists at different labels and companies), I wouldn’t be in the seat I am today. For all of those folks that I ever hounded with my questions about the industry when I was 19 – you are the reason I am here. Thank you.

H: As someone who went to school to study music and ultimately did find work in the business, do you think college is the best path to entry for those hoping to get into the business side of music?

N: Honestly, I know plenty of people in this industry that didn’t go to school. I honestly think it has a lot to do with knowing the right people and being in the right place at the right time. But, had I not had the internships or got into the radio station, I wouldn’t know the people that got me into this position, and had I not been in school… you get the connection. School made this happen for me, but it’s not going to be the same for everyone. Additionally, I feel like going to school taught me so many other valuable skills, aside from the education aspect. Just interacting with all different kinds of people in different settings in itself was nurturing.

H: Things really picked up for you in 2008, with roles at Relapse and The Syndicate, and MetalSucks. Did radio pave the way towards these opportunities, or was it a combination of that and other efforts?

N: My connections with the radio station definitely got me into those positions. The Syndicate was a simple street team position, but I knew a few folks over there through metal radio promo that definitely pushed me towards doing that. It was paid too, which was nice as a college student. Same with Relapse, I knew a few people in the promotions department that connected me with their internship coordinator. MetalSucks started out a bit differently… I was already interning at Heavy Hitter Inc. (a radio promotions company that has since closed, but you can find the staff and owners currently working hard at In De Goot and Strong Management) in NYC in the summer of 2008 and I met the MetalSucks guys right around then and expressed my interest in helping out with their project. So I became what I believe was their first “intern”… I basically helped them set up some social media, edit a few posts, etc. Nothing too big, but it was cool to be a part of it. Thanks guys!

H: You joined the MetalInsider team in 2009, briefly, then turned to the world of PR for good upon joining Adrenaline in June of that same year. When did you initially learn of Adrenaline’s existence, and how did you become aware of the job opening?

N: Yep, I was doing some post editing and running of the news feed sidebar for MetalInsider.net towards the end of my college tenure – I wanted to keep myself busy while I was finishing school. The Adrenaline PR connectiom basically went like this: I was setting up an interview for WVYC with one of their clients (I believe it was The Acacia Strain, I suppose Prosthetic had hired Adrenaline to work a few clients and their radio promo team connected me to them) and through creating a relationship with them, I learned an employee was leaving. That employee passed my resume to Maria, who liked me enough to want me around! I was hired the day before I graduated and moved to New Jersey from Pennsylvania two weeks later. Five years later… here I am, still enjoying myself.

H: What was the interview process like?

N: Maria and I went to Panera and we had a long conversational-type interview after she had already reviewed my qualifications. It was clear that we had a connection and that it would be a good fit.

H: Who was the first client you handled at Adrenaline, and what can you tell us about that experience?

N: We all handle a bunch of clients at once, but the first client I really remember sinking my teeth into was Dethklok, you know, the cartoon comedy band from the Adult Swim TV show Metalocalypse. I handled their guest list and press schedules for one of their big tours back in 2009… it was probably the one with Mastodon. Looking back, I probably made a ton of little mistakes before it was done with, but without that experience I wouldn’t be as quick with that kind of work today. We continue to work with Brendon Small on a lot of his projects – he’s a great guy. We also continue to work with Bryan Beller (check out The Aristocrats!) and Gene Hoglan quite often, as well. Also great people – all some of my favorite people to work with.

H: Do any of the lessons you learned in those first few months at Adrenaline leap to mind right now? Our readers appreciate all the insight they can get?

N: The industry is a BIG pond – and I am a small fish. Be a team player, listen more than you talk, don’t drink too much coffee (I snap sometimes), and appreciate every second of your day. No problem is too big, and like Maria says, “Everything always works out”. I’m blessed to be where I am, and I’ll never forget that.

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the Director of Customer Engagement at Haulix and host of the company's podcast, Inside Music. He is also a public speaker known for promoting careers in the entertainment industry, as well as an entertainment journalist with over a decade of experience. His bylines include Rolling Stone, Alternative Press, Substream Magazine, Nu Sound, and Under The Gun Review, among other popular outlets.