Tech Tip:Better Booking Health: Advice on how you can move beyond your local market

Better Booking Health:
Advice on how you can move beyond your local market
by Jeri Goldstein


Jeri GoldsteinWorking With A Publicist


At some point in your career development, you may decide that it is time to add a publicist to your career team. Just as it was important to evaluate your needs and readiness to work with a booking agent, it is equally important to assess your needs and readiness to begin working with a publicist. First, let's understand exactly what a publicist's job involves.


A publicist's job is to make contact with the various media outlets, (print media, radio, television and now internet) and attempt to get information about their clients included in or on the appropriate media outlet. Publicist's who have been working in the business for some time usually have developed a large list of media contacts with whom they regularly pitch new stories about their current clients. The more prestigious the publicist's client list and contact list, usually the more expensive are their fees. We'll discuss fees shortly. First, let's break down the responsibilities of the publicist, the expectations of the clients and the types of publicists available to you and why you might choose one over another.


A Publicist's Responsibilities are to:


1. Develop relationships with the media
2. Develop relationships with clients who need media promotion
3. Determine the type of media campaign required for each specific client and project

4. Determine the length of the media campaign
5. Send timely and appropriate press information to the media
6. Follow-up on that press information with immediate and persistent contact to insure the information will be used
7. Make appointments for their clients with interested media for interviews and promotional opportunities
8. Assist the media with timely arrangements in contacting their clients
9. Collect all media stories, interviews, tapes for use in future press packets
10. Help create new promotional strategies to increase client's visibility and raise their market value


The above list gives you a general idea of what most publicists will do for their clients. When deciding to employ a publicist, it is important to first determine what your promotion and publicity needs are. In order to do that, you need to evaluate where you are in your career development. There is no question that any group building a career needs promotion and publicity. The reality is that you may be ready for certain media outlets and not others. Some media may be ready to tell your story and others may not think there is a enough of a story, yet! By being realistic at this stage of the game, you can save yourself many thousands of dollars by not hiring the wrong publicist at the wrong moment in your career. Ask yourself the following questions in order to determine how ready you are to work with a publicist.


1. Do you play in your hometown or local area often?
2. Are you selling out venues of 50-150 seats in your local area?
3. Are you selling out venues of 150-300 seats in your local area?
4. Are you selling out venues of 300-500 seats in your local area?
5. Are you selling out venues of 500 plus seats in your local area?
6. Do you intend to tour in your local region only?
7. Do you currently get any coverage in your local paper, on local radio?
8. Have you been interviewed by the local paper?
9. If you live in a large city, like New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Chicagoor Los Angeles, have you had an article written about you that mainly dealt with your local performances?


If you have answered "yes" to most of the above questions, especially number 6, then your publicity needs are of a consistent nature, meaning that you require weekly updates to the local media about your performances. You need someone working on your behalf that builds an ongoing relationship with the local media.


Their tasks:

1. Help get regular calendar listings
2. Place photos
3. Pitch potential newsy stories written at appropriate times to promote some noteworthy career development.


Ongoing consistency is the key in this case. Your reputation within your local area needs to be constantly updated and kept current. Dates need to be listed in appropriate calendars and local fans need to know each time another performance is scheduled.


This type of publicity requires persistence and would be best served by someone local working directly for your cause. Perhaps one of your band-members are interested in taking on this task. I have hired a part-time person for 2-3 hours for 2-3 days a week with great success. They sent out packets and then were available to followed up in a timely manner. Their rapport with the local media ensured inclusion of photos, calendar listings and often interviews when the story was interesting. This person was paid on an hourly basis. Because they worked in my office, I was able to oversee all the correspondence and make sure contact was being made with necessary media in a timely manner.


Another possible way to accomplish the same coverage would be to hire a local or regional publicist. This person, should they agree to take you on as a client, would have their own office along with many other clients. They would have established media contacts--most likely the same contacts your in-house publicist would eventually develop. You would have to negotiate a fee for their services. This could possibly be hourly, but most likely would be a set fee per week depending on the amount of work you require of them. Fees will range widely from $50. per week up to possibly $500. per week.

Before selecting a local or regional publicist, figure out exactly what you will be asking them to do on your behalf. You might also interview a few in your area and get their fee structure after presenting them with your press packet and discussing your current status along with your goals. Ask them to present a proposal of how they would intend on working with you to accomplish your media goals. Get an idea of how they work, who their current clients are and how extensive is their media contact list.


If your goal it to build and expand your reputation within your local region, working with this type of publicist may be helpful. They may offer you new perspectives on how to promote yourself, thus increasing your media coverage. This alone may be worth the investment.


One note of concern--whenever working with a publicist, you will be billed for the upcoming month's work whether or not you receive coverage. You are paying for the work which gets the information to the media. Some publicists have clout and can almost always get coverage, others may not. If you go to the expense of hiring a professional regional publicist, do some research first to determine how advantageous it will be for you to be associated with one over another. You might check with some local writers and ask them how they like working with the person you are considering. Favorable reports from the media contacts themselves should be a major factor in helping to determine with whom to work.


Now let's consider a different scenario. Answer the following questions:


1. Have you developed a loyal local and regional following?
2. Do you want to expand outside of your regional area?
3. Do you have management?
4. Do you have a booking agency?
5. Do you have a record deal with regional and/or national distribution in place?
6. Do you have your own label with distribution in place?
7. Are you getting any radio airplay outside your local region?
8. Do you have the means to tour on a broader scale?
9. Are you at a point in your career where making a push toward gaining some national recognition makes sense?
10. Are you and/or your group members committed to expanding nationally?
11. Do you think you have the goods?


If you have answered "yes" to most of the above questions, you may be ready to consider working with a national publicist. A National Publicist is one who works with their clients to help break their story to the mainstream national media. Billboard, Rolling Stone, The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Chicago Tribune, The Los Angeles Times and The Philadelphia Inquirer come to mind as national media outlets to be sought after. Working with a national publicist requires that the client be ready for these types of media outlets. The publicist will take on clients based on the fact that there is an interesting story to be told about the artist, which they sense their national contacts will find interesting. In this case, it is often the publicist who may decide whether or not to take on a client. They need to know the client is noteworthy and that their efforts will actually get the client the kind of media coverage you have both set your sights upon.


When hiring a national publicist, usually you would agree to a specific time frame in which the work will be accomplished. You might decide that 4-6 months would produce the desired results. This period would give the publicist enough time to launch the media campaign and follow-up. Cost may range anywhere from $1500 to $3000 plus per month depending on how extensive the campaign will be and who is paying for it, (i.e., the record company or you).


A national publicist concentrates their efforts on image-making rather than the weekly listings or local media surrounding gigs. They may work with management and the record company to help break a new release and/or promote the release tour.


If you are at that time in your career development when a national publicist can help push you to the next level, work closely with them. Set up weekly meetings to determine that week's objectives. Make sure your schedule leaves time for you to attend to the arrangements they have made for you such as interviews and promotional appearances. There is little sense in spending this kind of money and then not be a willing participant in the work.


Working with a publicist, no matter which type of publicist, has the potential of increasing your recognition within your market. As with any aspect of career building, you need to be involved in the process in order to reap the benefits. You need to assess your own publicity needs and requirements and then decide how to most effectively accomplish those needs. If you decide that a publicist can serve your needs and you have the financial means to work with one, become very active in creating and following through with the full campaign. Your money will be well spent when you participate and partner in the campaign efforts.


About the author: Jeri Goldstein is the author of How To Be Your Own Booking Agent And Save Thousands Of Dollars. She has been an agent and artist's manager for 20 years. Currently she consults with artists, agents and managers concerning their career development through her Manager-In-A-Box program and conducts seminars and workshops at conferences, universities, for arts councils and individual performing artist groups and organizations. For more information about her programs or to order her book please visit her website


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