3-COMMON PR MISTAKES ARTISTS/BANDS ALWAYS MAKE…..
As I was putting the finishing touches on a recent development article, I couldn’t help but go back and look over some of the comments from Tosyn Bucknor of Top Radio 90.9, Lagos. One of the stories she relayed to me struck a chord and it lingered in my mind for several days.
The story I am referring to is Tosyn telling of having to track down a photograph of a band she was writing an article about. The short version is that Tosyn was writing a piece on a band that was part of an upcoming doubleheader in Benin. Tosyn wrote the story and contacted the band because she needed a photograph for the article. When the band failed to get back to him, Tosyn attempted to reach the band’s publicist. The publicist, like the band, also failed to send the photograph. Tosyn was left with few choices and ultimately decided to run the story…with a photograph of the other band set to perform in that show. I’m going to tell you something very disheartening:
This sort of thing happens more often than many of you would believe. I find it truly amazing that so many Artistes/bands do not comprehend how quickly inadequate public relations and media
representation can ruin their reputation in media circles and how much it can hold them back from advancing in their careers. I am completely sympathetic of Artistes/bands that don’t have the money to hire the proper representation but, if that is the position you are in, it is vital that you give this part of your music business the attention it deserves. I am going to tell you three TRUE stories that I had to deal with all during a span of just a few days.
Some involve Artists/bands that currently have no public relations or media representation while others are currently under contract with firms. This is the kind of stuff that goes on behind the scenes…
Just a few weeks ago, I reached out to a singer I was interested in covering for one of my in-depth artist interviews. The artist is very talented and was in the process of wrapping up a tour. My initial contact with her was via Twitter and she appeared to be genuinely enthusiastic in her responses. I requested her e-mail address so I could send her a standard form I gives all artists prior to one of my interviews. Understand that the form I send them includes a section explaining that ClubCity’s long-form interviews are typically conducted via Skype. I’m not going to go into many specifics here but being able to see the person I am interviewing is an important part of my interview methodology. A person’s mannerisms, body language, and facial expressions are all indicators of when I should increase pressure or ease up during certain lines of questions. I take the interview process so seriously because doing so leads to the wonderful artiste interviews published by ClubCity news. It is a matter of maintaining a standard with my readers in mind. Back to the story. So I sent that form to the e-mail address provided to me by the artiste. Four days later, I received a response from the public relations firm representing the artiste. It said that she had agreed to the terms of the interview and wanted to set up a time to conduct it but, near the end of the e-mail, the public relations representative includes a brief comment informing me that the interview would be done by telephone instead of utilizing Skype. “Huh? That isn’t how this works,” I thought to myself. I sent a very polite response to the public relations representative explaining that doing the interview on Skype was part of ClubCity’s Policy for conducting and writing our artist interviews. I also explained the reasons for the process being what it was and even provided them with links to previous artists interviews on our desk so they could see what type of article I was aiming to write about their client. They later responded saying they felt it would be better to do the interview by phone and “suggested” times that would be good for them to conduct the interview. I went to Twitter and contacted the artist directly in an attempt to figure out what the hell was going on and I asked her if there was a specific reason she didn’t want to do the interview on Skype. To my deepest surprise…. She
responded to my inquiry and said that she was more than willing to do the interview in that manner and right there I was confused by the e-mails I was receiving from her public relations representative. I suggested we set up a time and day to do the Skype interview (I wanted to get the interview posted because I had other stories I needed to work on) and she suddenly became very hesitant.
That was all I needed to know. I immediately pulled the plug on the interview. I knew one of two things was happening: either there was a complete lack of communication between the artiste and the public relations representative or the artist, for what ever reason, did not want to do the Skype interview and wasn’t being honest with me when we spoke about it. The interview never happened. Journalists have more important things to do than waste time trying to sort through this kind of mess. Getting one story from an artist while their PR crew
is saying the exact opposite is unprofessional and makes it very difficult for media to take you
seriously. It also makes us not want to cover you.
If you, your public relations representative, or your
band’s manager decides to contact the media
hoping to get coverage for your show, do not send
one of those stupid e-mails pretending to be a fan
suggesting the media outlet “check out this totally
awesome local band”. You think you are being slick
but an experienced journalist, even one working in
a small town, will sniff that out from a mile away.
Do you want to know why we are so good at
detecting that kind of BS? Because it happens so
often. It happens in music news and it runs
rampant in political news coverage.
It was just last week that somebody e-mailed me
suggesting I watch a YouTube of some Nigerian-band from
New York City. The author of the e-mail went on to
say they thought the band had potential and he just
happened to think of ClubCity news tab (JOY!)Would be the best platform for them and
he thought I might be interested in doing an
interview with the band. Of course, he just
happened to have links to their YouTube videos and
“Seriously?” I groaned.
I immediately responded to the e-mail asking if the
author was the band’s manager. Sure enough that
ended up being the case. I received a message
from the guy about ten minutes later admitting that
he was their manager.
I’m going to give you a pro tip: If the artist or band
in question is NEWSWORTHY, journalists do not care
if it is a member of the band, a manager, or a fan
contacting us with the tip. If you are a member of
the band, a public relations representative, or a
manger pulling double duty, please, just say so
from the beginning. We are going to find out and it
will make you look tacky and unprofessional.
And if you do feel you need to pretend to be
somebody else, that act probably isn’t newsworthy
enough for coverage to begin with.
If there is any one lesson artists take from this
article, I hope it will be this:
you for interviews are usually working on some sort
of deadline. I know of several instances in which
journalists and entertainment writers decided to
drop an interview with an artist because it would
take so long for the performer to get back to them.
This problem is not exclusive to the music industry.
It happens in politics, with community events, and
several other areas of news coverage.
You have to understand that reporters live and die
by their ability to meet deadlines and uncover
stories before their competition. So when a reporter/publicators
suddenly seems less interested in interviewing you
and writing about your band, don’t start criticizing
and saying nasty things about them on social
media. More often than not those interviews are
getting dropped because you have a pattern of
waiting three days to respond to the journalist’s
inquiries. Once that pattern carries out over the
course of three e-mails, the reporter has already
blown more than a week trying to set up the
interview and get the information he or she needs.
I had this happen with three different artists…just
last week. Most reporters do not have time to deal
with this kind of thing because they have deadlines
they have to meet to keep their jobs. They have
editors breathing down their neck to get things
done. We don’t have editors standing over us in ClubCity News but we still maintain self-imposed
deadlines to guarantee new content is being posted
on a regular/ bi-regular basis depending of the quality of the news, article that are available (We don’t release unnecessary news, we aint bloggers who always wanna have a bulk load of news packed in their blogs. We’d rather prefer two news per week if its the only genuine news available as an entertainment body who does not blog but give what we think you need to know).
One more pro tip to close this thing out: If a
reporter is interested in covering you, they are
probably watching you on social media. So when
they wait three days for you to respond to an e-mail
while seeing you post on Facebook every twenty
minutes, well, they are probably going to drop you
in favor of covering somebody else.
And the chances of them ever covering you again
are slim. So take every opportunity you have serious rather than blabbering unnecessarily on twitter, facebook etc
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
After spending nearly 10 years as a
professional radio journalist, ClubCity Records’ Events/Show Manager
Barry Balogun now helps Artists sing
all over world advance their music careers. He
offers classes and consultations on everything from how Artists/bands can better interact with the media to
designing their websites and media kits. Also a co-host of ClubCity Records’s “Industreet Collections” for upcoming artists. Barry’s
articles have been read by people in more than
twenty countries and have been shared by top
music industry officials and voice instructors,
marketing experts, radio stations, and artist