Let us first start this article off with what is the definition of a publicist:
A publicist is a person whose job it is to generate and manage publicity for a public figure, especially a celebrity, a business, or for a work such as a book, film or album.
via the Wikipedia GAWDS
We’re going to focus on the hip-hop music artist direction of public relations for this article. Mainly the line of marketing/promo and PR has become extremely thin within the past few years and now every rapper feels like they need a publicist. More than likely in the early to mid stages of your up and coming career, you probably do not need one.
Once you get to a certain stage in your career, there comes a time when you need someone to focus on your social media accounts keeping you engaged with fans in a positive light. Artists become too busy with studio recordings, touring, appearances, etc that they no longer have time to stay engaged with their fan bases so they would hire a publicist or their label and/or management team will bring in a public relations department for social media management. If you have little to no fanbase and not receiving huge engagement via your social media platforms, you have no reason to hire a publicist.
We bring up the thin line between promotion and public relations because they are definitely two separate things. It is not a publicist’s job to shoot you to the billboard top 10 within a week or have you on every blog in the world for a release. They don’t focus on email blasts, they focus on your image and your story…YOUR BRAND…WHO YOU ARE..and why the world needs to know about you. They want to get you interviews so outlets can hear your story and how you became the successful artist you are now.
Promotional and Marketing companies focus on the majority of what most unsigned rappers in the industry need in the beginning, but artists have these egos where they feel that saying they have a publicist makes them look better. If you have money to invest in your music pilgrimage its important to go to them first. If you are lucky to have a decent manager its important they set a budget for promotions on your music and brand.
You know it is time to reach out to the public relation world when you have a good buzz and a fanbase. 90% of artists that hit up publicists are ones that don’t even have a website, got 200 soundcloud plays on 20 uploads, and their cousin is their manager. They got social media accounts with no extensive following, no FB fan page set up for tracking analytics, and their Instagram is full of memes about hoes and how they are not loyal.
Trust, if you approach one of us, the first thing we plan to do is dissect your whole entire internet web life to even see if you’re worth our time and hair thinning. We also provide damage control if anything were to happen on your end to give the media a nasty taste in their mouth about you. Yes, you try my patience and I will have you giving out kittens to every 2nd grade little girl across the United States.
Publicists also provide professional advice especially on anything that is going to be released to the media. Sometimes what you and your management think is a great idea, we analyze it and make sure it is professional. We also prep you for interviews and discuss with the certain media outlet what they can and cannot question you about. We learn our clients’ personal lives and know their pushy buttons so say a live interview does not go left. We also monitor social media outlets that WE approve you using and constantly provide feedback to you or your management on what is appropriate to say.
So if you’re still unaware of when to hire us here is a checklist:
- Do you have a project complete or one coming up in the next six months that you need to press on? Keep in mind you cannot bring us in last minute and expect outrageous results. We are publicists not magicians.
- Is the buzz there? Are outlets talking about you? Emailing with inquiries about you? Are you overwhelmed with keeping up with the press?
- Are you struggling to keep up with media and scheduling interviews, timelines on what and where you need to be?
- Do you have a budget for PR? This job is not some made up music industry title. Publicists go to 4 year colleges and get degrees to brand any and everything. Your budget covers all sorts of things like graphic designs, website upkeep, photoshoots, videography and editing, fashion designs, event planning, and so much more.
Hope this article helps set the record straight to teach artists to save their money before hiring a publicist that they do not need. If you’re hiring a publicist based off an email blast you’re going the wrong way. With that said, some publicists will sell a la carte based on what the artist may need. Some artists do not need a full time publicist and temporary hire them for a specific project.
Last thing, most publicists do NOT sell themselves to a client. If someone is selling you PR services they probably are not legit. If they have a site with fixed pricing with bronze, gold and silver packages…run away. Each client a true publicist works with gets different treatment based on where they are in the industry at that set moment. We analyze what you have and compare it to your budget to give you a quote. There is no fixed price as each artists’ levels in the music industry is different. I cannot give a fixed price of say $2000 retainer to a client who is booking shows, verified on all media outlets with over 30K followers on each and a full blown SEO optimized website the same price that an artist that has gone viral and now getting booked, has a website that needs a revamp, and social media following may be under 2K.
Finally…if anybody…ANY BODY comes to you and says they are a “PR” the answer is send a read receipt and run. A publicist is what we are …PR is Public Relations which is a department within a company.
Now go flourish young rapper grasshoppahssss