Odds are you’ve just released a new album or single and you’re thinking about the best way to get it out there, engage your fans, and make the largest impact possible. If that’s the case, it’s time to consider finding a PR firm to help you out.
Good thinking—you’re already a step ahead of the rest by knowing that simply releasing and hoping your fans notice is not a good strategy.
How to Find the Right PR Firm for Your Band
It’s easy to invest in the things you can see the results of right away like high-quality recording or a new amp, but something like PR, which is more of a long game, is just as important. The music can be the most incredible, high-quality audio that anyone has ever heard, but if you don’t have a strategy or the contacts to actually get the word out then…how will anyone know?
So, how do you know what to actually look for? There are a lot of publicists out there, many of whom would be a great fit—but how do you find the one that’s a perfect fit for you specifically? Here’s how to get started.
Find a publicist you vibe with
First and foremost, you have to get along with this person. Better yet is if you feel like there are an actual connection and understanding there. Trust me when I say this will make the campaign (and quite honestly, the results of the campaign) so much stronger. Plus, this is someone that’s going to be in your life daily for at least a few months at a time—you want to get along.
Check their client list
This is primarily to see who they’ve worked with and if those artists are similar to you in experience and genre. Now, if you’re exploring a company that works with emerging artists, that’s who you should expect to see on their roster. Some companies will work with indie artists and more established ones, but the bulk will work with one or the other. So if you’re looking at a company and their roster is only emerging artists, but they’ve also had pretty good success with them in terms of placements, don’t discount them.
Quick side note—it is REALLY tough to get emerging artists major placements like Billboard, Alternative Press, and Spotify Official playlists. If a firm has those accolades to tote, consider it a good sign of their connections, but don’t expect it’s a given for you to end up there as well. Likewise, if a firm is pretty new and doesn’t have those placements, it doesn’t mean they suck—it might just mean they’re still growing—and if you are too, that might be a good fit.
Request case studies
Most PR companies will have case studies of past campaigns either on their website or in a PDF you can request. These will show you what the objective of the campaign was (promote a new single, etc), what they were working with at the time, and what the results of the campaign were. This is a really good way to see what a PR company was able to do for the artist during a campaign—it gives you a quick snapshot into it all.
The reason I prefer this method to just looking up what the band is doing now is because the PR company can only control what goes on within the campaign, on their end. If they got a bunch of great placements for the band and then the band slacked off on socials and didn’t release anything for a year so they stagnated, that’s not really the PR company’s fault.
Choose a company in the same life stage as you.
Just because a PR company is working with major label artists, doesn’t mean they can get you the same placements as those artists. In fact, even if they choose to take you on as a client, you can’t go into it expecting because they got that band 5 playlist features and a spot in Billboard that your destiny is the same. It’s simply not how it works. If you’re not there yet, you’re not there yet, and no matter how much you pay a publicist, they can’t change it. We aren’t magical.
So when you’re looking for your perfect PR fit, consider a company that’s in a similar life stage. If you’re an emerging artist just starting out, you might want a smaller company that’s still building their contacts but is going to be a lot cheaper as a result, and you can grow together. Some of my first PR campaigns were with bands just getting their footing who entrusted me with their music and the results were fantastic. Don’t underestimate how hungry young PR firms are, and how hard they’ll work for you.
If you’re a few years in, maybe you want a medium size PR company that works with emerging bands, but has had higher tier placements and has a bit more experience and stronger connections within the industry.
It just depends—but don’t discount the smaller companies thinking they’re not a fit. Odds are, the smaller the team (IE: 1-5 people) the more hands-on they’ll be with your campaign.
Figure out your budget
I touched on this above, but a big part of finding the right PR firm is knowing what your budget is, and being able to save for it. Most medium-sized companies will likely charge around $1,000-$1500 USD per month for an album campaign and require a 3-month campaign. Some smaller firms just starting out might fall closer to $500/month, while the much larger firms will be $3,000/month and up.
Get in touch with each PR company directly to find out their rates (single rates are generally different than album rates) and then use all of this to make a decision.
This is an important one. No matter what, you want to be realistic in your ideals. The right publicist should be someone who believes wholeheartedly in your music and your message, has worked within your genre and seen success (whatever that is for their experience level) and will work hard to push this music into the world.
But don’t forget to stay humble—if you’re a fairly new band with a modest social media following, it’s not realistic to expect to get in Billboard or on a Spotify Official playlist with 3 million followers. And that’s not the publicist’s fault.
At its best, PR should be a vehicle to tell your story, engage your fanbase, and find new fans and opportunities. Finding the right publicist is the first step in that journey, and a crucial one.