When you’ve worked this hard on new music, you’re bound to be a little protective of it—and so you should be! Getting it into the right hands means finding the right fans, so knowing how to choose your publicist is incredibly important.
Now, a couple pieces of housekeeping before we dive into the specifics—with any publicist, you’re going to want to have realistic expectations. You’ll notice none of the tips on here include finding someone who can get you huge features, and that’s because if you’re an emerging band with a modest social media following and a still-growing list of accolades, the odds of landing on Billboard or even Alternative Press are slim. Not impossible—but, not super likely either.
So, when choosing a publicist keep these things in mind—but when the publicist tells you the outlets they plan to pitch you to, and/or mentions those majors might not be a fit just yet—don’t hold it against them. If anything, appreciate them for their honesty and willingness to try and guide you.
So, what do you want to be sure you look for?
They’ve worked with similar artists
One of the first things you’ll be looking at is what kind of artists they’ve worked with in the past. If you’re an emerging artist, you should probably be looking at PR firms that have also worked with and continue to work with emerging artists, rather than one that works with label artists exclusively.
Most PR companies work within a multitude of genres, while some specialize, so if for instance you’re pop-rock and see they’ve worked with alt-rock, that doesn’t mean they aren’t a fit—the genres are similar enough that their contacts would likely be interested in you as well. But for instance, if you’re a hip-hop artist and a firm only seems to work with rock artists, that wouldn’t likely be a good fit.
They’ve secured the placements you’re after
Again, be realistic here, but pay attention to the kind of outlets their artists have been featured on, both during and after the campaign. Most PR companies working with indie artists will start off with smaller and medium-sized blogs, but every now and again have some of those bigger placements like Alternative Press, Substream, or even Billboard.
Take a look at the outlets and see if you feel like your future fans might hang out there. A good way to do this is to see what other artists they feature and if they’re similar to you (and if you think your fans would be interested in them)
They fall within your budget
This one is pretty important—they have to fit within your budget. That said, I expect you actually have a budget. Most PR companies that are just starting out will run around $500/month while mid-level ones will run $1,000-$1,500/month and larger ones $2k a month and up.
Please hear me when I say that a site that offers to blast your press release to 5k people for $50 is not a PR company.
I see SO many artists fall into that trap because it’s cheap, but make no mistake that mindlessly blasting your information to a bunch of people is not the same as a PR campaign, which takes a highly personalized, curated approach. It’s why one works and one doesn’t.
Remember, more money doesn’t mean more results—a publicist can’t force a large outlet to feature you—but, especially at the mid-level range (PR firms who have been around for say 4-7 years, have had some larger placements, artists with some further success, etc) does usually mean more experience.
That said, there are smaller budget options at most firms, but if you’re just starting out and don’t want to spend much, a smaller firm might be a better fit. It just depends. Take the time to get to know each firm and make your decision based on that (more on that later!)
They have strong recommendations
Most sites will have case studies of campaigns and artists they’ve worked with either on the website or at your request, as well as testimonials, but don’t be afraid to also reach out to some of their past artists to gather their thoughts. That’s totally ok to do!
They vibe well with you and believe in your mission
Ultimately, you’re going to be working with this person on average anywhere from one month to 6 months, so you do want to make sure you vibe well with them, and that they believe in your music, your message, and your overall mission.
Trust me, a PR campaign where you both get excited about the music and the message, and can brainstorm together and really grow together on it, is always the ideal.
Keep these 5 things in mind as you’re choosing your next publicist, and don’t be afraid to do your research and you’re bound to have a fantastic campaign! And if you’re feeling stuck for where to start with looking, I always suggest asking around—other artists you know (whether or not they’ve worked with PR they likely know someone), and FB groups you’re in. Word of mouth is always the best way! And if you’re looking for more info on working with me, I’d love to hear from you! You can always reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org
We’re just getting started! If you’re looking for even more tips on increasing fan engagement then join me for my free Masterclass ‘How to gain your next 1,000 fans. 3 simple steps that lead to higher engagement, sold-out shows, and life-changing opportunities’.
Angela Mastrogiacomo is the founder and CEO of Muddy Paw PR, where her artists have seen placements on Alternative Press, Noisey, Substream, Spotify and more, as well as the Director of Community and Events for Music Launch Co. She loves baked goods, a good book, and hanging with her dog Sawyer.