Are you interested in working with a publicist, but have no idea where to start? Read on to learn about the major areas of publicity to help you navigate your career.
What is a narrative?
Careers are fluid entities, moving in varying directions at different times in a singer’s professional life. As your career progresses and you have more success, you are paid more attention hopefully your career begins to move towards a higher national and international profile. At this point, a narrative begins to develop. A narrative is the combination of your personal backstory and the various successes you have accomplished.
When to Consult a Publicist
When a singer has a series of major accomplishments and there are a number of future engagements, it is a wise idea to speak with a publicist. Having a publicist is a major step in career-building and if you have new productions, broadcasts, recordings, and HD screenings in the offing, it’s important to have someone on board well in advance so there is time to build a storyline.
What to Look for in a Publicist
The obvious reason that someone hires a publicist is to secure publicity. But you also hire a publicist for their judgment and an excellent publicist needs to be a present listener as well. Information exists on more than one level. There is the factual portion that consists of pieces of data—what are the future engagements, new productions, recordings, televised performances, etc.—and then there is the subtext which is not always articulated. This is where instinct comes into play. The publicist may discern during conversations with the client that there are additional aspects to a story that provide more depth to the narrative.
I know why you want this interview now, why do they want it now?
There are times when an artist feels that they deserve a story in a particular publication or media outlet but the outlet, although interested, feels this may not be the best time for it. There are many reasons why this can be the case: they are backlogged on features and want to deal with those first, they have a budget and the artist may not be in the immediate vicinity and available for a photo shoot or interview, or there may be more interesting aspects to a story at a future date. In this situation, the responsible course of action is for the publicist to keep the editors apprised of any developments in their client’s career to maintain an ongoing dialogue.
How to work with a publicist
- Full-time: this is ongoing, where the publicist coordinates publicity for engagements, recordings, streamed performances, and HDs. With this type of work, the publicist is also involved in plans for future engagements. The advantage to this is that there is no break in services and deadlines aren’t missed.
- Project: If there is a specific project or a special performance, a publicist can be hired to publicize only that. With such an arrangement, there are pros and cons: the pro is that the cost is less than it would be for a full-time publicist, but the con is that once the project is completed, it is challenging to maintain the momentum.
- Consultant: This can be a productive way to work with a publicist. With this type of collaboration, the publicist works in an advisory capacity to guide the client in the best direction, but the actual work is managed by others. The advantage is that it is less expensive but for it to yield good results, it is wise to have the consultancy extended throughout the year to maintain consistency.
It is important to remember that publicity is an undertaking that requires patience. Just as there is no such thing as an overnight success, a long-standing media presence takes time to cultivate, and while it is true that there can be an event that propels someone into the spotlight, it’s equally true such attention can be short-lived unless there is serious and thoughtful work done by both the artist and the publicist to maintain it.
From a publicist’s perspective, I will say that having a publicist is not a luxury expense. It is not something you do after you have eliminated many other items from your to-do list; it is a serious investment in a career and can frequently determine the difference between someone who is a singer who earns a living and one who has an important career.