PR or Not to PR
by Walter Price
I ran into this cool, randomly numbered list on Digital Music News by Paul Resnikoff (DMN founder no less) 17 Reasons To Fire Your PR Person. And while most of it makes sense and bodes truer than Brian Williams in a confessional there are a few things I’d like to add to the this and that’s.
Before I do. Over the years I’ve worked with what seems all the PR firms in the business You know, getting there artists into whatever studio or radio show I was working at the time.. There is a time when you need these services as an artist. They are handy. Getting your brand in front of new eyes, broadening your media reach, getting your focus in focus and weeding where weeding is needed.
For the most part(s) these corporations, agencies and individuals are good hearted folks. Folks with your best interest at heart and wallet. But there are some diabolical douchebags running among the good. Before we get into the list remember one thing. These people work for you.
I’ll start my list additions at Pre 1-A.
Pre 1-A: If they have God complex.
You want someone who is skilled, weathered, educated and understand’s who da boss.These jokers who take your money and then treat you or the media, companies etc like they’re low level dimwitted fools are wasted space bullies on your team.
I’ve witnessed this nonsense. Never let these people, (again, who work for you), treat you just as they would treat a multi-platinum artists. Your money is a s good as anyone’s.
Pre 1-B: Yes people are a no-no.
This one goes for your management as well. You need people on your team to shoot straight. No way to correct something if you’re not aware of said problem(s).
Howlin’ Lord recently told me his thoughts on the matter and it is a sentiment I’ve heard from artists for years. He said, I’ve seen a lot of great musicians cut off from that world, managers promising the earth and delivering very little whilst keeping a great band on the shelf,”
Don’t be put on the shelf. Keep things proactive and make sure your people are on the level with you. The moon and stars make awesome goals but are shallow promises.
1. They aren’t creating a compelling, heartwarming story that works.
Why did Spotify fire their PR agency? The reason is that a lot of artists now hate them, including the most powerful artist in the world. Spotify has simply failed to craft the right message and effectively deliver that message to the people they need the most: artists.
2. They send press releases instead of building relationships.
Press releases matter, but real relationships with writers and publications matter more.
3. They threaten journalists.
This sounds really basic, but when you threaten a journalist to change their opinions or otherwise censor what they’re writing, they usually don’t react well. Sure, you might win in the first round, but you’ve now made an enemy for life.
4. They let you sue journalists.
Sometimes you can threaten journalists to shut their mouths. Other times, they’ll fight tooth-and-nail and even suffer jail time to fight you off and stand for their principles. Just ask Grooveshark, which burned three years and hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to force Digital Music News to reveal the identity of an anonymous commenter (hint: they lost).
5. They accidentally create viral stories about how evil you are.
Just ask YouTube, whose PR guy thought it would be a good idea to bully Zöe Keating into retracting her story about how YouTube was treating artists. The only problem? Keating kept copious notes of the conversation, which indeed showed that YouTube was bullying her into joining Music Key or closing her channel.
The result of all this? A hugely viral, David v. Goliath story that worked against Youtube’s interests.
6. They are full of shit.
This should probably be number one: spin is one thing, but complete bullshit is another. Writers are usually a lot smarter than you think, and feeding them obviously-wrong BS is a great way to alienate them, or worse, motivate them prove you wrong and write something really bad about you.
7. They lie.
Remember, it’s harder than ever to lie these days. Things have a way of coming out, sometimes years later (just ask Brian Williams, or BigChampagne). And that’s not just bad PR, it’s potentially corporate malfeasance!
8. They put really stupid things in writing.
Because every email, tweet, blog post, and text is not only recorded forever, it can also ruin you forever…
9. They get emotional.
If your PR people can’t handle brutal rejection and never getting return emails, phone calls, or texts back, then they shouldn’t be PR people.
Remember this: there are more asshole writers out there than nice writers. But even the nice ones simply cannot return the deluge of incoming communication, even if they wanted to be nice. They will reject or ignore your PR pitches, if they notice them at all.
10. They suck at dealing with people.
The CEO doesn’t need to be a nice guy. He may suck at talking to journalists. But your PR person needs to be incredibly adept at dealing with prickly writer-types, many of whom don’t have good people skills.
11. They shut down in the face of criticism.
Not everyone is going to like your company, your idea, or way of doing business. Some will be completely brutal or publish things you don’t want published. But that should present your PR firm with a challenge, not a reason to shut down and cut off communications.
Because every critical journalist can be swayed, especially if they aren’t seeing the whole story. The jedi PR person knows how to stay above it all, take the high road, and win people over.
12. They aren’t creating amazing events and using goodies.
Sure, writers love to fashion themselves as wholesome, impartial authorities that can’t be swayed by favors. But they also love free stuff, and will warm up to you if you give it to them. And, it’s a great way to win them over, break through the clutter, get them to go outside, and subtly pitch to themthe entire time.
So send them tickets to the festival with a +1, but make them pick up the tickets in your tent or suite (after they chat with you about how great everything you’re doing is.) Invite them to your party, and introduce them to all the wonderful people that are leading your company’s charge. Remember: it’s harder to tear someone down that you’ve met face-to-face, especially if that person has presented you with all sorts of different, positive aspects of what they’re doing.
13. They aren’t getting their top people in front of important publications.
Some PR firms deliberately block their clients from communicating directly with publications. Others smartly do the opposite, and forge rich, lifelong relationships that do them enormous benefit.
14. They aren’t music fans or tech geeks.
I’ll call out the Jukely PR team here, Miller PR. One of their people is obviously a die-hard music fan, the other even plays euphonium! That’s cool, and right off the bat, we’re speaking the same language.
If your PR team knows more about the Patriots than Patreon, or would rather go to the Catalina Wine Mixer than Jazzfest, than you probably need a new PR person!
15. They aren’t using the media ecosystem to your advantage.
Before the Wall Street Journal started criticizing Spotify, Digital Music News started criticizing Spotify. But DMN will just as quickly quote a Wall Street Journal article. Things trickle up and they trickle down, which is why your PR team needs to not only know people all throughout the chain, but know how to use the chain effectively.
16. They write emails in CAPS.
Don’t do this.
17. They aren’t showing up every day to try to create an absolute frenzy of media interest around your amazing company and its revolutionary products, and completely putting their egos aside to do it.
This list has been truncated, please check out the full article HERE.
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