Publicity and Public Relations
So you want to be a rock star. Or maybe you are looking to promote an up-and-coming musical act. In either case, having an understanding of the role and importance of public relations in generating publicity may drastically increase the chance that you’ll be met with success.
Publicity: Information that brings a person, or cause, to public notice.
Public relations can break a band out from the ranks of the unknown. Here are just a few of the typical public relations services that musicians may benefit from:
- Design: band letterhead, business cards, press materials, logos
- Media: press kit and news release distribution
- On-line and Social Media: blogs, on-line newsletters, etc.
- Special Events: event promotions and planning
- Writing: press kits, press releases, pitch letters
It Is Who You Know
Even more important than a band’s relationship with its manager, may be its relationship with its public relations practitioner. If you’re shaking your head at this statement, consider this: Your manager may have a few contacts, but the public relations practitioner is likely to have the right contacts. That is to say, the ones that will take whatever little known bit of information it is that you have, the story you have to tell, and tell it to a great many people. Bottom line: If you are a musician without a public relations professional in the mix, get one. If you are a practitioner of PR, it’s a great time to work in the industry!
A public relations professional can determine — through no small amount of research — who wants to notice you, who cares (remember the definition of publicity).
A skilled practitioner, working with his or her media partners, can potentially reach thousands of potential fans (the ones who may care enough to buy the music), via the morning paper or online news Web site — more if things are timed just right. TV is another possibility, and radio, yet another. Whatever the channel of communication, because PR involves employing reputable third parties to tell the story, the messages will be backed by the type of credibility that money can’t buy.
Are we more likely to believe that the Rolling Stones is the greatest rock-and-roll band ever, if we read it in Rolling Stone, or see it on a bar flyer while paying our respects to the porcelain god (in the lavatory)?
Getting another party, especially a well established and reputable member of the media, to tell the story is worth its figurative weight in gold. In fact, it’s worth more if the same weight would otherwise be used to fund an advertising budget (we’ll visit that at another time). Like most real relationships, managing one with the media involves give and take. It’s a balancing act that PR folks are compensated to perfect.
Key points to remember:
- Harnessing the power of the mass media is a cost effective way to reach large audiences
- Unlike most advertising, PR typically utilizes a third-party to deliver messages
- Audience members tend to perceive messages as more credible than advertising
To sum up, P.T. Barnum may have said it best: “Without Publicity, a terrible thing happens…nothing.”