Free Advice: When to Hire a Publicist
These days it seems everybody and their dog–no, really–has a publicist. It can be a mysterious world to navigate, but understanding a little bit about how publicity works can really help maximize your results and hopefully save you some money.
I am what the industry refers to as a “personal publicist.” That means I represent people. Usually they are actors, but I also represent experts like interior designers and lifestyle experts. So, how do you know if you are ready to call in the professionals and how can you get the most out of your experience? Check out the tips below and if you think you are ready, have your people call my people…
1. Competition is Fierce, So Timing is Everything
While it’s true that some people just get lucky, your project is really the biggest determining factor of whether or not you are currently ‘press worthy.’ It’s essential to have a platform such as a book coming out, a television show or film premiering, a product line, a huge blog following, celebrity clients etc., so that your publicist has something specific to promote. With so many shows, networks and experts these days, the competition for magazine features and talk shows is tougher than ever. If you pay attention, each season you will notice that there are a handful of new television shows that get ALL the attention. This is because editors screen all the pilots in advance, so they decide long before the show premieres which ones to champion. A publicist can get you access to the “big leagues,” but you want to be confident in your project.
For experts, having celebrity clientele helps, but at the end of the day, editors/producers want to be wowed.
One of the greatest misconceptions is that publicists can make water into wine…that is get publicity for someone who has nothing going on.
One of the greatest misconceptions is that publicists can make water into wine…that is get publicity for someone who has nothing going on. There are always exceptions to the rule, but that is usually not the case.
2. Do Your Research
It can be detrimental to your self-esteem to compare yourself to other people (FOMO!), but when it comes to publicity, it’s my one exception. Before you hire a publicist, it’s a good idea to come up with a list of 3-5 people who you think are similar to you. Then google them to see what kind of publicity they have gotten. That can help you gauge what kind of publicity you are likely to garner and to decide if now is the time to hire a professional. Remember to really be honest! Don’t google “Jennifer Lawrence” if you haven’t won an Oscar (yet!).
Before you hire a publicist, it’s a good idea to come up with a list of 3-5 people who you think are similar to you.
3. Lead Time
Publicists need at LEAST two months, preferably longer before whatever you are promoting comes out in order to pitch and secure press. The monthly national magazines work 4-6 months in advance. Don’t wait until the last minute or you are sure to set yourself, (and your publicist), up for failure.
4. Money, Money, MONEY!
Having a publicist is a big investment, but one that can really pay off. A publicist works on a monthly retainer, usually between $3000-$5000/ month, so you definitely want to be financially prepared and ready to make a long-term commitment. Which brings me to…
It takes more than one month to see results. I tell all potential clients that you should give your publicist a solid three to six months before deciding if the investment is paying off. So, when you begin with a publicist, you really want to have your ducks in a row. Have your website up and running, have images of yourself in both high and low res either on a disc or uploaded something like Dropbox that is easy to share.
6. They Like Me! They Really Like Me!
This may be the biggest key to life in general. If people like you, they will want to be your friend, help you, date you, work with you. If editors, producers, directors, television bookers, etc. like you, they will want to work with you again and again. And a little insider secret: if your publicist likes you, she will work extra hard for you because it makes her happy to see you succeed! View your relationship with your new publicist as a collaboration and it will be much more fruitful.
7. It’s All About the Bottom Line
There is a reason Kim Kardashian continues to grace the cover of almost every single magazine. (Dare I mention Vogue!?) She sells them, plain and simple. It’s the same with talk shows. Producers want to book guests that are fun, who connect with the audience and are good for ratings. It’s important to keep this in mind if you have dreams of being on The Tonight Show. Realize that in the beginning, it can take time to build up enough great ‘tape’ to get that big booking. Just know that it’s all part of the investment.
Want to know more? Leave your questions and comments and I’ll be sure to answer!