When launching a PR campaign for music publicity, knowing what to expect is key
As an independent musician, digital publicity can be a fantastic way to build the necessary online foundation to set yourself on a path towards success. But like much of digital marketing and music publicity, the process and subsequent results can feel a bit nebulous if proper goals aren’t set in place.
Setting goals for an upcoming digital publicity campaign can help you to do two things that are critical to success:
1. Hire the right kind of publicist
There are many different types of digital publicists, each of whom have a specialty and defined approach to music publicity and PR. Tour publicity, niche publicity, long-tail publicity, short-tail (aka short head or fat head) publicity, and more. Exploring and defining your goals will help you to better determine the right kind of publicist for you.
2. Understand the value of the work
Without understanding what it actually means to receive digital music publicity (again, from the right kind of publicist), each feature that you receive – an album review, interview, internet radio spin, tour coverage, etc. – won’t ever truly satisfy you.
A good way to look a PR is to understand that each feature you receive is simply a step in the right direction. But without understanding where you are going, these steps might not feel like success. By setting the proper goals for your music publicity efforts, you will be able to truly understand the value, and thus the return on investment (ROI) of each feature.
But setting goals needs to be done properly. Certain goals will take more time to accomplish than others, and of course some goals are just completely unrealistic (often the result of insufficient market research and/or lacking music industry knowledge).
Before we dive in to setting realistic goals, let’s look at some unrealistic goals that can lead to the wrong expectations of what is likely to happen from a successful digital publicity campaign.
1. Expecting unrealistic tangible results, e.g. producing a viral video, selling one million albums.
2. Presuming you can establish a self-sustaining career in music from PR alone.
3. Expecting feature placements from industry-leading tastemakers that are far beyond your reach, e.g. a brand new indie artist expecting coverage on Pitchfork or Rolling Stone.
4. Expecting feature placements that just don’t make sense, e.g. coverage from blogs that don’t cover music, your style of music, or who cover national topics and celebrities exclusively.
So now that we’ve covered some of the unrealistic goals, let’s take a dive into what can be a good goal for you to focus on in your music publicity. The goals below are broken down into 3 different time frames:
– Short Term (2 – 3 months)
– Medium Term (3 – 6 months)
– Long Term (6 months – 1 year)
This is critical for not only understanding how long it may take for you to achieve certain goals but setting a time-frame around a goal is an important part of actually achieving it. If you were to set a goal of ‘I want 1,000 fans’ with no time-frame around when you hope to achieve that, how do you know you are on the right path?
So let’s dive into the goals below and explore several effective goals for all three time-frames that will help you to approach your digital PR campaign with manageable expectations and understanding of the work.
Short term goals
The theme surrounding your short term goals should be to build conversation. This can be an instantaneous goal, a great short term focus, because the conversation can start to build even after just one feature.
1. Land features that lead to the right kind of conversations.
In order to ensure that the conversations that occur with new and existing fans and tastemakers are the right conversations, it is critical that you think about what kind of features you are hoping to achieve. Again this goes back to the idea that there are several types of digital PR, and each one can lead to different types of features.
There are several types of features you can expect to get from digital PR, along with what type of publicist to seek out:
– Niche coverage about your background and story (not just music coverage) to expand your promotional targets (Niche PR)
– High volume of coverage from genre-specific media makers to grow overall visibility (Long-Tail PR)
– Coverage from ONLY the biggest industry tastemakers (Short-Tail PR)
– Local press for upcoming events (Tour PR)
2. Establish relationships with taste-makers.
Although many digital PR campaigns will only last a few months, the value of the work can greatly outweigh the time-frame as it can help you to determine who and where you should be building relationships within target niches. No matter your focus (long-tail, niche, tour coverage, etc.) a great short-term goal to set for yourself and your digital PR campaign is to identify tastemakers so that you can continue the conversations with those who matter to your growth and success.
3. Establish new conversations with your target audiences
An obvious goal for PR is to find new fans, so a great short-term goal to set for yourself is to establish new conversations within your target market.
This will ONLY happen if you are proactive and get involved. Media makers may cover you, and this may lead to some comments and social sharing, but unless you engage these media makers and fans in a timely matter, the conversation will never get to where you need it to, which is to convert those new eyeballs to real fans who are connected with you directly on your own social networks, blog or newsletter.
4. Build awareness of your band, brand, and product.
This is the most basic short-term goal, and is a great jumping off point for any newly established artist. With just a few short months time, increasing the awareness of a new brand is easily attainable and will help to build the strong foundation needed to achieve your medium term goals.
Medium term goals
With a bit more time invested in digital PR, a great theme to focus on for your medium term goals is an increase in visibility.
1. Increase Google ranking
Although you certainly can increase your Google ranking in the short-term, it is likely you’ll need 3-4 months (or more) to really make a big enough difference to rank towards the top of key Google searches.
2. Gain incremental growth on social networks
This is the tangible goal that everyone puts in place as the “indicator of ROI” when it comes to digital PR, and with good reason. When you are starting new conversations, the idea is to acquire those fans on your social networks so you can grow the conversations and turn them into real fans.
And while you certainly will start to see some new growth on your social networks from the new conversations that are started (by achieving your short term goals), you won’t really start to see the growth happen until your overall visibility increases. This will happen when you’ve been placed on enough features to saturate your market or niche.
Again, remember that you MUST do your part in this by engaging within the new conversations in order to acquire these new fans.
3. Strengthen relationships with existing passive fans and establish a greater number of active fans
Many of the new (and existing) fans that result from your digital PR campaign will land into the “passive fan” category. This means they are aware of and interested in you, but the loyalty to you won’t be strong enough where they feel the need to engage with you on a regular basis, and ultimately purchase from you as well.
A great medium term goal to set for yourself is to build up your visibility enough, where you can engage with fans on a regular basis, allowing you to strengthen relationships ultimately converting your ‘passive fans’ to more engaged “active fans.”
Long term goals
Once you have built up conversations, and then your visibility, you’ll start to increase your overall influence within your market. This is a great theme to focus on for your long-term goals.
1. Increase in influence within target niches
After achieving you short-term goal of increased awareness and conversations, as well as your medium term goal of increased visibility, you’ll begin to get to a point where your goal should be to increase your influence within your target markets. This will be accomplished by utilizing your relationships with key niche tastemakers who are capable of increasing the prestige and value of your brand.
2. Strengthen relationships with existing active fans and establish a greater number of super fans
By focusing on offering unique content to niche tastemakers and to your existing base of “active fans,” you will be able to increase the loyalty and influence you have over your fans. This will effectively convert “active fans” to “super fans” who are the life-long, hard core, obsessive fans who will not only purchase one of everything you release, but will begin to evangelize your music and brand to others.
In other words, at this point, your fans will increase your influence for you because they will be spreading the word at a rabid level to their friends and family who may be involved in the same niche space.
3. Increase in sales
Let’s preface this by understanding that digital PR does not have a direct correlation to sales. This is especially true in a short or medium term basis. But the focus on increasing influence within a niche market over a long-term can certainly increase the level of sales that result from your new super fans and the new fans that they have created through the evangelism process.
Keep these goals and strategies in mind when you embark on any PR campaign, and your results and expectations have a good chance of being aligned.
Image via ShutterStock.com.