By Rich Dawes
We often get asked by unsigned artists and small labels with very little budget if we can help them with PR. Whilst we do help out a number of these there are too many to help them all out so thought that it might be an idea to discuss a few key things that every new artist or independent label might find useful:
1) Make sure you have a compelling story.
If you want media and also music lovers eventually to buy into your project there has to be a reason that a website, magazine or newspaper would feature it. It's always worth thinking of things from the journalist/editor POV - they want to ensure that everything they put up on the site or in their publication is going to excite and interest the reader. In this day and age the stakes are high and there is far more music and cultural activities going on to feature them all so you need to be unique and intriguing. Readers can't hear the music through the magazine so what they're reading needs to be compelling. Don't mistake this for making a load of stuff up - although some do with great success - just find a way of involving the making of the record, the theme behind it, the collaborators etc into the story. Any way in which you can help the music to come to life through a story helps infinitely.
2) Know what you're trying to achieve and focus on being focused on everything around that.
The amount of times I've heard PR's get stuck into a campaign without a clear plan or directive and unless you get very lucky it can all fall flat. It's like trying to put on a music awards show and inviting a load of sports journalists. It's essential to set out clear objectives. e.g. to get onto Radio 1, Sell out a London show, get an album to No.1, get the artist a brand deal or generally reduce the titall tattle and push the credibility more. The ultimate one for most is selling more albums or increasing streams. Start off by working collaboratively with someone on the team who can do a bit of research and insight into the artist's audience, then research what this audience does, what media they read, where they go out, what they like to do. Then identify an audience that you want to get to grow into and do the same. Then work out how the different promotional platforms fit into this and ensure you have a timeline so that you can focus coverage around key moments so you make a dent in the news and the audience starts talking about you. For new acts the key is getting endorsement from key people or areas that give you a solid base to then grow. If you don't have this you're at the mercy of the mainstream. Look at Stormzy right now he's got the perfect balance.
3) Never run a tick box campaign unless there's a particular need to do so.
You're trying to create a talking point, awareness, attention. If your campaign feels boring and isn't really saying anything then it won't be memorable. You want people to have an emotional reaction to what you're doing so that they remember it and (even better) discuss it with their friends) This is how PR should work with social media. Starting the conversation that sparks an authentic discussion on social media. This is why it's important to have the credible endorsement because the small audiences that access these original sources then go on to share it with their friends and those friends tend to trust these tastemakers because they're always on the latest thing. We found when we surveyed a number of people aged 16-21 that 9 out of 10 get their music, culture and entertainment tips from social media - they all have a friend that they go to for what the latest thing to be into is. Then the 1 out of ten consumed lots of media like NME, Metro, The Guardian, BBC etc and then posted the stuff they liked on social media. With this in mind and especially if you're targeting young people you need to think about that pattern and also the best time of day to get things up. Sometimes a twitter post from a magazine can be more powerful and far reaching than the piece itself so think about these kinds of things too. Above all try to get creative. Think about a way in which you can do something that you're in control of that gets the artist or brand's message across in a clever stunt or activity. If it's good enough it will get picked up by all the relevant media you're targeting. Again think about what publications, websites etc you want to be covered by to fulfill your objectives and create something that will excite them.