How to Help Your Publicist Help You

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Even for solo artists, music is a team endeavor.  No one, no matter how energetic and talented, can truly make the most out of their music career without professional support.  Regardless of which genre they play in or how long they’ve been in the business, all career musicians work with people from record labels, radio stations, and concert venues.

As a developing artist yourself, one of the most important people on your support team is your publicist. Publicists are like representatives or spokespeople, acting as contacts for members of the media while simultaneously helping their clients maintain the public image they want associated with their work.

These men and women take on enormous responsibilities for the musicians they work with; but at the end of the day, not even a publicist can pull 100% of the weight.  If you want to make the most out of your publicist’s assistance, you need to help them do their job just like they help you do yours.  So how can you help your publicist help you?  How do you know you’re really benefiting as much as you could be?

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Understanding What Your Publicist Does

In order to have the very best possible working relationship with your publicist, you need to take a little time to get a good grasp of what he or she actually does.  This will help you understand the sorts of tasks they can and can’t help you with as your career develops.

A publicist will: 

  • Help determine whether situations will generate good press, or negative attention.
  • Create official statements for the press.
  • Take care of public and media relations.

A publicist will not:

  • Provide legal representation in court — that’s the entertainment lawyer’s job.
  • Set up performance gigs for you — that’s the booking agent’s job.
  • Compile and submit your demos — that’s your job.

Remember: publicists specialize in communications and image.  They are not technical specialists, radio promoters, music critics, blog editors, recording studio owners, or attorneys. They are there to help nurture, protect, and support your public persona as an artist.

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Tips for Working Effectively with Your Music Publicist

Now that you’ve done your homework and have a good grasp of your publicist’s role, you can really make the most out of your professional relationship together.  Here are some simple but important tips for maintaining that relationship — and your career.

Be Timely

The role of today’s music publicist is very different from what it was 20 or 30 years ago.  Thanks to the advent of the internet, information moves faster than ever before — and you need to keep up. Modern publicists’ jobs revolve heavily around their clients’ social media presence, and fans are only a page refresh away from missing out.  This means you need to respond to all of your publicist’s requests as soon as you possibly can (or sooner).

Share Information…

Your publicist is the number one liaison between you and the media, and the media is the number one liaison between you and the world.  That means they need to know the whos, whens, wheres, and whats of your career.

You should always tell your publicist if you’ve booked a performance gig, if your schedule or band line-up has changed, or if you’ve been in contact with record labels or radio stations.  In the past, record labels were often involved in the selection and hiring of the publicist, but in today’s indie-focused D.I.Y. culture, emerging artists without labels often go directly to the publicists on their own.

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…Or Don’t

Once again, it’s very important to highlight the central role of the internet in your publicist’s work. Whether you’re going for grungy punk rocker, sultry singer-songwriter, upbeat pop artist, or something else altogether, he or she is now responsible for preening and maintaining your public image — whatever it may be.

That means that your Tweets, Facebook updates, and blog posts now fall under your publicist’s domain.  Do not post information on the internet without talking with your publicist first, because if you do, you might undo the work they’ve put toward framing you a grand debut.  If you say something controversial or offensive, your publicist will be tasked with damage control and will have to patch up the fallout.

At the end of the day, you and your publicist need to work together as a team.  The better you understand each other’s tasks and goals, the more successful your joint efforts will be.