As a band manager, one of my main goals is to help create a buzz for my artists. One of the key ways to do this is by receiving good press, and the most obvious way to get that press is to hire a publicist.
But how do you find a publicist that is right for your band?
You should be aware of what you’re hiring a publicist for, and be realistic about what you want him or her to do. If your band has been playing mostly local shows, hire someone for local publicity. If you are starting to tour, find a good regional PR man who knows different markets in your area. Don’t seek out national promotion companies if your band isn’t touring nationally. There are plenty of solid indie publicists who do great work for bands on a budget. Some will work on a single project, just $50-$100, to promote one show. Others work on monthly retainers, often $200-$300, to promote small tours.
Where do you find them? Grab a local newspaper, magazine, or look up a local music blog. If the press is writing about a band, odds are a publicist pitched it to them. Once you’ve found a few local or regional bands that work in the same genre, get in touch with them, ask them who they used, and if they would recommend that company or individual. You should also reach out to publications directly. Ask music journalists and bloggers which publicity companies they enjoy receiving music from.
Once you have your list, the next step is getting their attention. Publicists need stories to send to press people; without a story, there is nothing to write about, and nothing for them to help you with. Is your next show a record release party? Is your band playing a show to help a local charity? Was your song placed in an independent film? Did your band save a family from a burning building after a show? These are the types of things that will catch a publicist’s attention. Where possible, it is always a good idea to invite them out to one of your shows.
It also helps to be specific about what you want them to promote. Will the publicist be promoting your new record, or just your next big show? Will she be promoting locally, regionally, or nationally?
To really make their mark, publicists need at least two months’ time to promote a show. If you’re asking them to promote a record, they need four months. You’ll be much more successful in finding a good match if you’re realistic about what they can accomplish.
The most important thing, though, is finding someone that truly believes in your music. It will make working with them easier, and you will likely get much better results. I would rather hire a less experienced publicist who is crazy about my band than a well-known one who thinks my band is just okay.