…look for one who thinks strategically.
While marketers would concentrate on selling tickets. Advertise in newspapers, send email to a mailing list, whatever.
But now we’re in a nother age
And so the traditional ways may not work anymore. It’s suited to a culture we no longer really have, where your prospective audience could be counted on to read the newspaper, and thus would see what’s written about you, and see your advertising.
That’s no longer true. If you have (or want) a younger audience, to give just one example, you’re talking about people who mostly don’t read newspapers.
And, at least where classical music is concerned, newspapers are cutting back on reviews. And talking about not running them at all, because (as studies and online statistics clearly show) very few people read them.
Which — if publicists don’t understand this, or ignore it — can lead to craziness. I know one group in New York that paid a well-known publicist $2000 each month, in order to get — or maybe get — coverage in the New York Times, most likely a review.
So if they got a review that year (which could easily not happen, and certainly they wouldn’t get more than one, because many more concerts happen than the paper can cover)…if they got a review that year, they’d be paying $24,000 for it!
Which (to put it mildly) doesn’t seem cost-effective. Especially since a review (as a consulting client of mine just described it) is useful mainly as a trophy. (Or at the outside, as something to impress people who might book you.) Won’t get people buying tickets.
So what should you do?
In our new world, you need to identify who your audience is (or might be), and then figure out how to reach them. The newspaper most likely isn’t the way. Your approach has to be targeted — has to be aimed directly toward the people mostly likely to go to your events.
That means that publicity and marketing have fused together. They’re the same effort. The one described in the previous paragraph — identifying and targeting your audience.
Or, a different goal — identifying and targeting people you want to reach to build your reputation. Which also can be a goal of publicity. To make yourself better known. But better known to whom, and for what reason? Who are the people whose knowledge of you will help you the most?
The question to ask
All of which means that traditional publicists may not be able to help you, as you need to be helped.
So if you think you need one, interview anyone you’re thinking of hiring. Tell them what’s happening with your music now, and tell them what you’d like to see that isn’t happening now.
If you have a strategy for going where you want to go, tell prospective publicists what that is. And ask them how they’d carry out the strategy, how they’d fit into it.
If you don’t yet have a strategy, ask prospective publicists what strategy they’d recommend for you.
These strategies are very much individual. Might be different for different people, different groups.
If you get what sounds like a “one size fits all” answer to your questions, don’t hire that publicist.
And if they can’t conceive a strategy at all, most definitely stay away. You need someone who can swim in the new waters, even if that means they have to do things that they (and you) have never done before.