Anti-Piracy Tip: Research every promo request, even if it comes from the artist

Journalism is a tough game, and anyone who works in it will tell you that is sugarcoating the reality of the situation. There are far more people seeking paid work in writing than there are positions available, and as a result the competition for access to album advances, concert tickets, photo passes, and the like is extremely tough. People will do anything they can to not only get the attention of publicists, but to set themselves apart as someone whose words and influence can greatly benefit a certain artist or project. We encourage you to do the same as well, but we draw the line when people start to lie.

Yes, in the age of Google and global interconnectivity there are still some people who believe they can get ahead in business by pretending to be something or someone they are not. The image at the top of this post shows a screenshot from an email a publicist forwarded our way. Their PR company was contacted by someone named Molly who claimed to be a writer looking for tickets to cover an upcoming concert. To confirm their story, the PR firm in question requested that the writer send along an example of their work, and the screenshot above shows what they received. At first glance, everything looks legit, but that is not the case. A quick google search using any sentence(s) from this post will show you the original article was not written by ‘Molly,’ but rather by Jennifer Moore for Sound Scene Express (proof). 

Once the PR firm discovered Molly’s lie, they reached out to confront her/them. Molly, in turn, fell silent and was never heard from again. 

People impersonating others to gain access is certainly not a new concept, but it’s hard to live a life where you question everyone you meet. Publicists are inundated with dozens, if not hundreds, of requests every day. Most struggle to find time to read everything, so it’s easy to understand why many do not think to further research the people who send requests and provide evidence of their work – but it is something that must be done. Whether the request comes from a new writer or someone claiming to be connected to the artist in question, it is incredibly important that PR and labels confirm they are who they say they are. If not, leaks will happen and the wrong person will be blamed, which is not good for anyone.

We’re not saying to stop trusting people, but we do believe you need to confirm new contacts are who they claim to be prior to sending advances or granting access to live events. It may require more work, but a little extra effort is far better than a leak that causes irreparable damage to your artist, as well as your reputation in PR.

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.