Is It Time to Hire a Publicist?

Event Tips >

Hiring-PublicistEveryone has a friend who “made it.” Maybe it’s your band’s former drummer, who’s in a new band that’s taking off. Or your MFA classmate whose novel sits in the recommended section of every indie bookstore you frequent. Or the person in your improv class who’s already selling out shows.

Sure, your friend is talented, hardworking and deserving. They also have a tenacious publicist … and you don’t. So you start to wonder if you should hire one too.

Publicists do more than write press releases—they frame your story just the right way. They develop relationships with journalists and know who will cover your project. A good publicist handles hard-hitting questions or crisis management if something goes wrong. And then there’s the most laborious part–crafting pitch after pitch after pitch.

When you reach a certain point with your events, band, book or any venture, hiring a publicist may make sense. Remember there’s only so much a publicist can do—your project should be ready to promote. If you lack concrete goals or a strong following, handle your own PR for a bit and see what happens. If the buzz becomes too much to manage on your own, it may be time to consider outside help.

Signs It’s Time

  • You don’t have time to correspond with media or you have a day job that does not allow you to do outside work.
  • You put on more events than you alone can handle.
  • Your event includes controversial or political material and you think you may be fielding tough questions by the media.
  • You’ve dealt with negative media in the past.
  • You’ve hit a roadblock or a lot of dead ends managing your own publicity.

Pros of Hiring a PR Pro

  • They are trained to reach out to media using the best tactics and practices.
  • They have existing relationships with media members.
  • Since they’re focused on publicity, they’ll be able to promptly reply to media inquiries and take a giant chunk of responsibilities off your endless to-do list.
  • If you have a mid-to-high-profile guests, performer, etc. for your event, a publicist will know the strategies to get them an interview.

How to Find a Publicist

If you organize long-running or frequent events, consider a PR agency, but be wary—agencies are costly. Before you start setting up meetings, have a solid budget and expectations in place. Know how the agency measures success and who they’ve worked with before.

In the entertainment industry, freelance publicists are easy to find. Check out LinkedIn or Facebook PR groups or contact a local university—you might be able to find an entry level publicist who’s willing to work at a flexible rate.

Brown Paper Tickets offers free promotion advice and resources. Email our promo team at promo[at]brownpapertickets[dot]com. They won’t manage your publicity, but they have a wealth of information on how to do it yourself.

Did you hire a publicist? How did you know it was time? Comment below.

  • jerry seltzer

    This is an excellent post. A very important point is that you must have an objective for your use of a publicist in all circumstances. Make her or him aware of what you expect; they do require management. Understand that often what you want to promote has no interest by publications or media, and they can help formulate a way of presenting it. And just having someone in media mention you is not sufficient, if you have a reason for reaching out. For instance, if you are promoting an event and want to give away some tickets, unless the media mentions the event, where it is, and where people can buy tickets, there is little worth. A good publicist can make things happen for you.

    • Amanda Halm

      Great points, Jerry. A solid objective is so important as is a mention of where to buy tickets.