Nick Southall Column: “So what is PR?” Part 1
Nick Southall’s (aka Ringo) new monthly column delves into the role of PR in new music.
“A few weeks ago the esteemed leader of Pure Rawk got in touch to see if I’d be interested in writing a monthly column about PR and how it fits into the world of music. I thought about it for about 10 seconds and said “yes”.
What I’m going to try and do over the course of however long the blog lasts is try and explain just what PR is. I’ve been doing PR for about 18 years and have worked on all sorts of projects from Kids TV (Nickelodeon), Animal Charities (The Dogs Trust), Toothpaste (Aquafresh) and of course music (Amy Winehouse, Queen, Patchwork Grace, It Bites amongst others).
Since I started in my PR career the world has changed. Email wasn’t really up and running when I started let alone the monster that is Twitter. So, here goes, I’ll share some stories that are music related, others that I think are just fun and illustrate a point and hopefully it’ll be interesting. I’m going to aim to do a blog a month and keep them short and snappy.
If there’s anything you want to know or any questions feel free to hit me up. I’m easy to find online but Twitter is generally the quickest way – @nick_southall.
Let’s start at the beginning, just what is PR. Quite simply: it’s about getting awareness for your band and music raised so more people know about you. That’s it.
There are lots of ways people can connect and talk about you and to try and cover them all in the first blog would be mad. So, let’s start at the beginning, how do you get your first live or demo review?
Firstly, don’t try and get that review before you’re ready for it. Any writers, whether they are bloggers, college newspaper reporters, local newspaper music scribes or even the Editor of that weekly rock mag (you may one day grace the cover of) have long memories. Your demo or your gig will be the first chance they have to experience you. Put bluntly, if you’re not ready and if you suck, the journalist will remember it and it will haunt you for the rest of your career.
A review when the band isn’t ready will not only stick in a journalist’s memory, so making it harder to get them to revisit you when you have improved, but it will also get dragged out again and again as you journey down that road to world domination.
How do you know if you’re ready? Ask some people you trust, not your best mate or your boyfriend/girlfriend. In most cases they will always say “you’re great”. Think about asking promoters, people at your rehearsal studios, your music teachers, staff at the local music shop, anyone who has a connection to the scene but who is not necessarily connected directly to you or your band. Maybe you know a local blogger or journalist. You can ask them for an opinion and explain that you don’t want to be written about until you feel you’re ready. Writers like that, it’s a way to build up a relationship and if you’re not quite ready you already have a warm contact that, when you are ready, will know you and may have a soft spot for you because you asked for their advice.
Be ready for the answers to sometimes be hard to swallow but, listen to them all. If you don’t agree with them that’s fine but if a bunch of people are saying the same thing surely there must be something in what they ARE saying?
This is your foundation, it’s so important. Don’t run before you can walk. Once you are ready it’s time to work out who will want to write about you and how to target that person.
There’s a lot to be said for growing up in public – take the Black Veil Brides for example. So much has been written about them and how they came to fame that it’s hard to work out exactly what the truth is. Did Hot Topic fund them? Were they put together by a ‘Sven Gali’ manager? Who knows, but for a while just before they released their last album for every 1000 people that knew them and had an opinion I would wager half of them had never even listened to the music. If you want to be known for your music make sure that when you aim for your first piece of press that music is as good as it possibly can be at that point in time.
We’ll talk about how you pick the place for that first piece of press coverage next time.”
What did you think? Do you agree? Leave your opinion in the comments below.