I know what you’re thinking, no one needs a publicist, and you’re right in that I will always recommend food, water and shelter over hiring a publicist. But if you’re going to launch a project, you will need someone to contact the media to help spread the word. And just like you could bake your own wedding cake or defend your own murder trial, many tasks are best left to professionals. When someone says they need a publicist, they don’t mean that they’ll starve without one. They mean that if they want their new product to sell they will need to make as many people aware of it as possible, or their project will fail (and then they will starve).
Have you created something really big, something you’re proud of?
For an author, this is usually the publication of a book. For a band, it’s the release of an album. Or perhaps you’re just about to wrap on your first film. It’s a project big enough that getting your Facebook friends to click the like button isn’t going to satisfy your want for an audience. You’ve accomplished something newsworthy, and you want to let everyone know. That’s where a publicist comes in.
Then what? What does a publicist do?
There are many people I meet in my travels that don’t know what a publicist does, or why someone would want to hire a publicist. Simply put, I interact with members of the media on behalf of an artist, so that they can stick to what they do best—making art.
Publicists contact the storytellers, to find the ones who are interested in your story. They work with editors, producers, and bloggers to help get your name in newspapers, magazines, websites, and on the radio or television. Sometimes they rely on their established contacts, and other times they research the publication and find just the right person to reach out to. Publicists draft press releases, media advisories and press kits to send to their media contacts, and they follow up to help shape that story. They carefully craft emails to best pitch your project while balancing the editor or producer’s need for correspondence that is succinct and informative. They will get your book or CD into the hands of the media, whether that means uploading a single PDF to a producer’s FTP site or mailing 200 samples to every sports writer on the Eastern seaboard.
Your publicist will keep track of all these interactions, patiently following up so your book or band stays on the busy producer or editor’s radar. She may work with an editor to come up with a contest or suggest interview questions for a radio show. She may choose excerpts from your book that would fit well in a particular magazine or find a personal angle that would fit in a specific magazine’s feature section. She may create a quiz based on your material or get your album into a seasonal gift guide. Your publicist will suggest publicity sources you hadn’t yet considered, and then track down those sources and see where it takes them.
Do publicists do social media?
Some of them don’t; this one does. These are exciting times to be a publicist. The fall of journalism and the rise of blogging and social media mean that the game is changing rapidly. Many fantastic publicists who’ve been leading the pack for decades are now playing catch up in learning how to gain publicity through social media. It’s informal yet public in a way that’s very different than traditional publicity.
Personally, this is an area where I had a head start. It’s not just that I’m a user of social media, I’m one of those people who goes out and joins the-next-big-thing before most people even know what it is. I tried to get people to try out Pandora radio years before anyone was talking about it, and by the time it caught on, I’d moved on to a Twitter-like music site I preferred. I liked it so much more than Pandora that I gathered more than 40,000 followers there and became their sixth most-popular user. I love social media campaigns. But they are more complex. A social media campaign requires constant attention and, when done properly, should work with the artist to help bring them into the conversation.
What else does a publicist do?
Publicists arrange tours. They contact venues, purchases plane tickets, and reserves hotel rooms and rental cars. They find out what materials you need to go on the morning show and who will come downstairs to let you in to the studio. They arrange logistics like planning time for travel or sight-seeing, or arranging appropriate times for phone conferences among multiple international callers. They will make sure that your books arrive at the signing or your back-up singers know how to get to the studio session.
Informally, a publicist wears other hats as well. They will act as a media trainer when you have questions about how to make a good impression on camera. If your book/movie/album would be of particular interest to a celebrity, your publicist may track down their agent to send them your project. Publicists are well-connected, and may pass your next project along to agents, or recommend other professionals like editors, designers, or coders.
But wait, there’s more!
In addition to the services above, I also offer marketing consultations to make sure you’re getting the most out of your branding. This includes:
- Analyzing your website to insure no opportunities are lost to convert fans into sales or subscribers
- Installing apps on your blog that make social media promotion easier and more efficient
- Introducing you to applications that will help you keep track of which parts of your publicity efforts are most effective
- Introducing you to other markets or publicity strategies
- Assessing your existing marketing and publicity strategy
Phew! That’s a lot of stuff. If you have more questions, Contact me or set up a free consultation.