Public relations is about creating and sustaining a conversation, a conversation that is relevant and interesting to an audience. In the music industry, an artist or band has to be doing something significant and appealing for there to be interest within media circles and amongst a fan base.
Whereas it is a PR person's job to create news and generate stories and angles, especially when the chips are down and when the music is stagnant, it is also up to artists to do something noteworthy in or outside of their careers to generate talking points. Artists have to ask themselves: "Why should the media and fans give a sh*t about me?" and "What can I do to make the conversation relevant to my target audience?" This is where a manager steps in to take the reins.
A good manager will be driving all avenues of artists' careers and, in some cases, their personal lives, in order to create or identify opportunities that will generate them both revenue and awareness at the same time. A good manager will make sure that the artist or band is current in terms of always having music in the public domain; for example, a new single, new album, new video, shows and collaborations. A good manager will know the artists so well and understand what "feel good" elements drive them and will carefully align them with a charitable organisation that, once again, creates a talking point. A good manager will be brutally honest and will objectively advise artists on what is working and what isn't and be able to direct them in a way that their career activity works well for them. A good manager will work closely with the PR team and treat them as partners and not as mere suppliers, and will work as a collective in building relationships not only with the press, but with brands, sponsors, investors and, of course, the public.
Bad management can lead to bad PR
Turning things upside down slightly. Bad management can lead to bad PR. If a manager does not know how to react when an issue arises, the results can be fatal to the artist's reputation. A good manager will work closely with a PR team and identify and elements that may threaten the integrity of an artist (for example, a history of substance abuse, an abusive relationship or traits that usually end in bad behaviour.) These should be addressed as a team with the artist and a scenario plan developed to prepare for the event of an issue arising. "No comment" to anyone in the media just doesn't cut it, in fact it says "Guilty as charged" and a good manager should know this. Dealing with a crisis takes a three-sided task team - a manager, a publicist and a lawyer.
In South Africa, there is a gold mine of talent with many acts at a level of international quality. In most cases, the artists you see in the media have been successful with their music and are having decent radio play or are strategically involved in campaigns that hold public interest. Look one step deeper; these people are (on the most part) backed by good management who understand the value of PR and co-operate fully with the publicity team.
To conclude, good management leads to wise career decisions. Wise decisions generate career activity, which, in turn, creates conversation. The PR people, therefore, are granted decent ammunition to sustain this conversation through media channels, thus resulting in favourable publicity. It is that simple.
Tim Hill is a Publicist, Brand Manager and Co-owner at Tuned In Publicity (www.tunedinpublicity.co.za), a full service public relations consultancy specialising in building and maintaining positive reputation capital for South African artists and bands. Contact Tim on
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