WHAT'S TWITTER SAYING? A.K.A. STARTING IN PR
Like most things in my life, working in music PR wasn’t part of the plan.
Sure, I’ve loved music since I was a child and have been obsessed with the inner workings of the music industry for years, but its reputation for being one of the hardest to break into precedes it, and I had a few things working against me: absolutely zero professional experience in a similar role (read: no experience whatsoever, besides managing a few events and writing my own blog); no university degree or much formal education at all (sorry, mom and dad); not a single contact in the industry; and most of all: very little understanding of what PR entails. What exactly does a publicist do? What even is the difference between PR and marketing? Would I have to start wearing actual clothes instead of working from bed, in the comfort of my pyjamas?
In answer to the latter: yes, mostly.
As for the rest: read on!
I believe in cold-emailing like I do nothing else: a well-crafted, thoroughly researched, professional, letter of introduction can go such a long way. This also applies to cold-tweeting, cold-DMing, cold-linkedin-requesting, you name it --you never know whether they could land you your next job, side project opportunity, life partner or new best friend. Having said that, I’ve also seen too many poorly written emails to count, usually riddled with spelling mistakes but very little to say when it comes to the value you’d bring the company / why that person you admire on Twitter should take time out of their day to get coffee with you / how your podcast or event would be such a great opportunity. Just don’t be that guy.
At the time that I started emailing every PR company in London, I didn’t have much to show for myself, so I had to get inventive. I must have been good at something, right? Well, I’d kept a blog for a few years, so I knew about writing and promoting my own creative work. I’d been an actor, so I knew about long punishing hours, quick turnarounds and the importance of keeping a smile on my face at all times. I’d managed events, so I knew about keeping a clear mind while a thousand different things are going on (well, threatening to blow up in your face), learning fast, attention to detail, and dealing with clients and customers. Most of all, I was in a deep slump and was so desperate to learn something new, get stuck in the work, and prove myself.
Reader, it worked.
A boutique music PR agency in London decided to give me a chance, and in an incredible twist of luck, I started my internship with them the following Monday. I got promoted within a month.
I learned on the job, and I learned quickly. I was always in the office 15 minutes before everybody else and I left late most evenings. I scoured Google for answers for hours before I’d risk asking my boss a stupid question (most useful tip I’ve ever given any of our interns: Google will have the answer 99% of the times; only ask when all else has failed). I listened. Really listened. I read up as much as I could on the history of the company, studied its past and present clients, its successes and niche specializations. I aimed to solve problems before my boss would even realize there was one, instead of creating them. I heard the phrase ‘I need to put out a fire real quick’ more times than I can count (remember when I asked what a publicist really does? THIS is what they do, they put out fires related to their clients’ public life and persona; no, they don’t manage their clients’ Instagram account). I attended every live show, and even a stadium tour -I still remember the joy of waking up early the next day and seeing a 5/5 star review in print. I upkept databases detailing every journalist in the UK, put media kits together, wrote first drafts of press releases for any of our artists’ releases, then collated positive and negative coverage they garnered. I helped manage the company’s social media accounts, hire and train interns, and come up with different projects and strategies. I even worked a couple of festivals and award shows -fun perks!
By the time I left the company, last year, I was ready to sleep for a month straight but I’d never felt prouder of myself. I still find myself reading entertainment news with a knowing eye, and I don’t think I’ll ever be able to stop. Whenever Chrissy Tiegen starts a storm up on Twitter, I spare a thought for her PR team. If an album campaign feels forced or just fails to land, I find myself fantasizing about all the ways that my fantastic team could have brought it back to life. I’ll admit, I still get a little giddy seeing a successful campaign execution -Dua Lipa’s, for her latest Future Nostalgia, was just everything. My advice to anyone in the acting / music / directing / writing world wanting to snag a great publicist? Work harder than you think you should have any right to, put together a killer proposal explaining why your art will basically promote itself, and how you’ll be a joy to work with. Then please, for the love of god, actually be a joy to work with.
As for my advice to anyone wanting to start out in the world of PR? Get ready to ‘check what Twitter is saying about this’ like your life depends on it. And to have a world of fun!
Anna Myers is a writer whose work is all about cutting to what really matters and building a joyful life. She lives in London, where she writes for publications like Teen Vogue, Glamour, MTV, Thought Catalog, and The Financial Diet about relationships, identity, lifestyle and everything in between. She freelances as a PR consultant, voiceover artist, and content marketing writer, and she’s worked with brands like L EVI's, Microsoft Surface, Estee Lauder, Rolls Royce, Google Localize, Bvlgari, Davos World Economic Forum, Intuos, SeaLife and many more. To read more from her, you can sign up to her weekly newsletter about the joys and struggles of building a life, and follow her on Twitter and Instagram.