ASK A PUBLICIST: How do I know if I’m ready for a publicist?

ASK A PUBLICIST is a recurring column on Haulix Daily where we pose a question about music promotion and publicity in 2016 to the team at Catalyst Publicity Group. If you have a question for the team, email and we’ll try to find the answer.

QUESTION: How do I know if I’m ready for a publicist?

Good question! Before you can answer that, there are a few questions you need to ask yourself: Do I have any new material being released (example: new single, music video, album/ep)? Do I have any shows/tours coming up? Do I have enough material to warrant the work of a publicist? Have I exhausted all efforts in doing this independently on the local/regional level? If so, you may be ready for a PR campaign.

At a certain point of momentum, when you begin to generate buzz, go on tour, or release an album, you are going to realize that independent publicity efforts are too much to handle. This feeling kind of just naturally happens, and without sounding too cliche, when the time comes it will hit you – you will just know. There are not enough hours in the day for musicians to handle their own media. Running a good publicity campaign is an around-the-clock, full-time job that requires a lot of attention, and a band has to also be a band.  It is exhausting to play a concert performance until 2am, then have to be up by 8am to respond to important emails from the media, coordinate scheduling, and monitor the media, all while managing other aspects of being in a band.  Both are full-time jobs and there will come a point when an independent artist simply cannot do it all and should seek a publicist.  

If you are an artist and feel that your reach is beyond the local and regional areas it may be time to find a publicist to help. Before you reach out to a slew of firms or independent publicists, it is important to understand what a publicist’s role is. A publicist is meant to enhance your presence in a public forum. They are the catalyst to helping your band/career grow in the public’s view, they are not there to build the artist team but to attract press to cover your music and story to reach new heights. Before you reach out to a publicist make sure that you have a plan in place. If you are still recording music or filming a music video let the publicist know what stage you are in. It is important to allow enough time from the completion of the music or content before the publicist jumps on board but it is equally as important to loop in the publicist way ahead of time so the entire team can make a plan of attack. Publicists need the time to research, plan, and pitch for features, premieres, interviews, you name it and even more important time to get to know you, the artist. Every artist is different, so allowing enough time for the publicist to get to know you, your story, and music is a must. Bear in mind when selecting a publicist you are hiring them based on their expertise, their passion for you as an artist and music, and their willingness to work hard to achieve goals. A publicist comes equipped with pre-existing contacts and relationships and it should be understood from the beginning that they will work hard to connect the dots for the betterment of your career. A publicist is not a manager or booking agent. It is important to decipher the difference before reaching out. When you do reach out make sure you’ve researched the company/publicist ahead of time. It is important to interview them just as much as they interview you. Use your best judgement of character and make sure to cross check with other clients on their roster before making your final decision. Have a preliminary plan, idea of budget, and some music/content to show to the publicist you are speaking with ahead of time. If you come prepared for the meeting the publicist will appreciate the effort! Remember it is a two way street, by hiring a publicist the work of the band does not end. It is your job as the artist to work equally as hard to continue spinning the wheel and create new and innovative ideas and content for your future publicist!

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.