People may love your music, but it’s simply not enough to gain the attention that you need, especially nowadays. You need to work on the public relations side of your career. What you need are a story and social media activity. Bree Noble’s guest today is Diane Foy, a PR, and marketing coach. Diane explains the importance of figuring out what you want. What is your 10-year vision? Life in the arts is not easy. If you don’t know why you want to be a well-known public figure, it’s so easy to quit. Tune in to learn more!
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It’s All About Your Story: Public Relations For Musicians With Diane Foy
I am excited to be here with Diane Foy. We are going to be talking about publicity, when it is time to be looking into publicity, and when it is not time to be looking into publicity. This is a big soapbox that I have in my business because I see a lot of artists wasting money on publicity. I’m glad Diane is here. She’s an experienced publicity person for entertainment, musicians, actors, and she’s experienced this as well. She’s come up with a framework to help artists know when it’s time to be investing in publicity. We will talk about that but first, Diane, I would love you to tell them a little bit about your background. How you got started working in this industry and how you’ve pivoted a little bit.
I’ve pivoted quite a lot in my career because I’ve always loved music and the entertainment industry. I wanted to be a part of it. I just didn’t know how to. I began as a photographer, then as a makeup artist for a long time. I always want to be doing music videos and band photoshoots. I did some music journalism. Eventually, I realized that I want to be in the music industry with everything that I had done. I went to entertainment management school and learned everything to do with the business. I started from there.To reach your goals you need to be aware of what they are. Click To Tweet
Because I’d already been around, I started my company right away. I interned with a publicist and got some experience there. I started doing publicity for my friends’ bands. I started getting them good stuff right away. Lots of well-known, established managers in the industry started hiring me for their artists, and then it took off. I loved doing publicity. I got to do a lot of well-known artists as well as indie artists. I’ve been doing this music publicity for 15, 16 years. I was always on the side of the up-and-coming artists. When I started, it was easy to get publicity for up-and-coming artists. You could release an album, never leave your basement, and I can get you to press, but things changed.
Is that because there was less competition then?
Less competition but there were more outlets. In Canada, where I’m based, I used to be able to pitch three writers at every single newspaper across Canada. They especially would cover the local artists if you’re from there. A lot more papers did album reviews and things. If you’re playing in that city, they would write about it. There were more opportunities and fewer people who are doing it on their own. Little by little, the industry got smaller and more people started doing their own stuff.
For music entertainment in Canada, there is one guy that does the reviews. Of course, he has to do Lady Gaga and it’s syndicated across Canada. They’re all about the syndication. They need a story that’s of national interests. Even in Toronto, the music writer that was there for many years is gone. They’re more concentrating on lifestyle and news and there’s no music. For mainstream press, there’s nothing, especially if you don’t have your crap together. If you’re a well-known, established act, touring all and busy, then they might cover you.
It’s the same with the local television shows here like Breakfast Television and the morning shows. They cut a lot of their indie music stuff and only if you’re a big name. You can think of, “There are blogs,” but blog writers are mostly just fans. If they’re not into the style of music, they’re not going to waste their time. It then comes down to if a blog is going to invest their time or the ones that do pay their writers to write about you. If you don’t have a following yourself, then there’s less in that for them because they want you to share it on your socials and send traffic their way. It’s a win-win for everyone.
I start getting frustrated as a publicist. People would come to me, “I have an album, I have singles,” but you don’t have a lot of social media activity. You don’t have an interesting story. Everyone has an interesting story, but you’re not telling me. The photos are not that interesting. I can’t get you anything as much as I could love your music. The media could love your music, but they need more than that. It became frustrating. I couldn’t get what I wanted for you.
I spent most of my time talking people out of hiring me. It wasn’t fun anymore. I was trying to figure out a way. I still loved artists and I still wanted to help them, but how? When I discovered coaching, I was like, “That’s it.” As a publicist, they’d come to me and I’d go, “You need to do this and this. You need a little bit more of a personal brand. You need some stories. You need some social media activity.” When you have more of that, you can come back to me and we could do publicity. They were left going, “I don’t know how to do all that.”
There’s so much information out there but then, what is right for you? Through coaching, it was a lightbulb moment that, “I can walk you one-on-one through the process of personal branding and figuring out what you want. What is your goal setting? Who are you? What are your stories to put out there? I can walk you through all those stages so that in the end, that’s your publicist’s dream or I’ll show you how to do it yourself.” I can make a bigger impact as a coach too. I love the one-on-one connection with people. I love what I do now.
I can tell that you care about the artists and that was the reason you wanted to move into this coaching because you were frustrated that you couldn’t help them as a PR agent for multiple reasons. Either they weren’t ready or the field of play for you is getting smaller and smaller. That’s such a bummer that I’m hearing that. I should ask around about the US because I’m sure the same thing has happened here because there are many other competing media like podcasts. The newspapers are folding left and right. There isn’t as much going on. There are also other avenues. Do you find that podcasts are useful for artists to be on them? Are there many podcasts where they’re interviewing artists?
I’ve searched and there’s not a lot that interviews up-and-coming unknown artists. There’s a lot that covers the more known. It’s hard to find the podcasts that do but there are some for sure. I would recommend podcasts and campus radio. Sometimes, there are a lot of good shows on campus radio. They’ll do an interview and feature your song. Spotify playlist, that’s where it’s at and blogs. It depends on what kind of music you do.
Do you find that nowadays, Spotify playlists are one of the things on the list for publicists?
Yes, because now it’s just a promotion. When I was still doing it, I did it for a few years of trying to get artists on independent playlists. I haven’t dealt with the editorial or anything, but then I didn’t do it for too long because then I realized that it’s a specialty on its own.
That’s why I wonder that because I know that some people specialize in that.
It makes sense if the only person on your team is a publicist and if they can do a little bit of Spotify playlists and blogs. Sometimes, the same people that do a blog also have the Spotify playlist. It makes sense that publicists do it more so than a radio promoter. It’s different people. It is a specialty. I can get you on some independent Spotify playlists. Every little bit helps. The more you get added to the small independent ones, the more the bigger ones will pay attention. It’s a promotion spotlight. Some companies specialize in it. They have a whole strategy for it, and then getting you on the bigger ones as well.
Let’s talk about your framework for getting artists ready to even be to the point where they should seek out getting PR and hiring a PR agent. It’s interesting because I have a similar framework. I’m curious to see how yours differs from mine because I see the same thing. I see artists doing things in stage one, which I call the foundation stage. They’re not anywhere near ready. They don’t have this way to catch fans or potential fans once they get the PR that can be helpful to get you in front of new people. I know you said that you want them to go through at least the first four before you even recommend them looking into doing PR beyond what they can do on their own. I’d love to hear a little bit about those first four stages.
I always start with, “Let’s figure out what you want. What is your ten-year vision? What is your five-year vision? What is it that you’re chasing?” Some people don’t know. They’re not as specific about it. They might be chasing the wrong dream. Taking time to figure out what it is you want. I then coach them around goal-setting, breaking that down, so you know what you need to get done this month to get on your way to what you wanted for the year.
The next is confidence. It’s a bit of personal branding. Those first sections are about personal branding. It’s building up your confidence, figuring out why you want this because life in the arts is not easy. A lot of struggles along the way. If you’re not clear on why you want this, why you’re motivated to do this, it’s easy to quit. I stressed about figuring out why it is that you want this. What is your motivation? Figuring out your core values that help you make decisions when a huge opportunity could come up for you. If it doesn’t fit with your goals or your core values, then you know to turn that down or go for something else.
It’s evaluating your skills, strengths and weaknesses. Limiting belief is a big one. Sometimes, there are deep-rooted beliefs that we have that stop us from moving forward. It’s fear, anxiety, failure. It’s exploring that so that you can get confident. The next phase is personality, image and story. It’s owning your personality if you’re an introvert or extrovert and exploring it. It then also helps you read other people to know their personality. It’s great for building relationships.
Do you build in personality tests in here to find out if they’re introverts and stuff?
I do. I love personality tests. There are many. There’s the Enneagram and the Myers Briggs. I love those. They’re more detailed. I don’t coach on those because they’re in-depth and it’s harder to predict other people because they might be showing just one part of themselves. I coach on the Big Five. The Big Five personality is, are you introverted or extroverted? You can be on a scale. You don’t have to be one or the other. You could be introverted but you can be extroverted in certain situations. There’s openness. How open you are to new experiences? Again, you’re on a scale. Agreeableness is one. Neuroticism is one.
It’s going to be useful for them to know about each other if they’re in a duo or a band, couldn’t it?
Yes. That’s why when I coach on it, I coach the artists through the phases to figure out where they land. I then challenge them to try and guess they’re close people. If it is in their band, examine them. There are questions that you can ask to figure it out. You could suggest a situation and see how they talk about it. Whether they’re introverted, they’re closed off from new experiences and they’re conscientious, that’s another one. It’s figuring out where you land on that. Nobody is in the middle for all of them. It’s usually, “I’m introvert, but then I’m open to experiences.” When you start to figure out someone else, that then improves relationships. If you’re extroverted, you might not understand why an introvert is not wanting to go out as much. You might take it personally. Whereas you could go, “They need their recharge time. Don’t take it personally.” I love personality tests. That’s where I start, the Big Five OCEAN model.
How do you apply that to more of their branding and their story?
It’s a little bit of figuring out where they are at. If there’s an area that they hope to improve, it’s not necessarily part of their branding, but it’s part of, “If I’m completely introverted, in order for me to achieve my goals, I need to step up and work on that and get a little bit more extroverted.” We also go through, “What areas do you need to be more this, or in other areas, you need to be less this?” It’s more about reaching your goals and being aware of them.
It also affects the way they are on stage, the way they interact with fans, understanding if they need to work on certain things. I remember I was in a room with some people and they were talking about when you decided to become an artist, you weren’t thinking, “I have to get used to talking to strangers,” especially if you’re an introvert. You’re going to have fans that you don’t know. They’re going to be reaching out to you and wanting to talk to you. You’re going to have to step out of your comfort zone if that’s not natural to you.
Also, on the other end. If you’re extroverted but you could recognize that one of your fans or one of the people are wanting to talk to you, but they’re too shy to talk to you, and you make that effort to point them out and bring them in, that’s going to mean the world to them. You don’t want to just pay attention to extroverted people.
That is level two. What is number three?
Three is still the personality-imaging story and the story part. Exploring your story. Part of the purpose is to get your bio done, but also to have a story vault of different areas of your life. Let’s explore your whole life at different turning points in your life, learning experiences, highlights, lowlights, and write it all out. Answer a bunch of questions. Some of it will go in your bio, but most of it will be what you’ll post on social media later on. You’ll bring things up in media interviews. It’s having lots of stories to tell. Especially with social media if they post so often.Always improve your motivation and core values. Click To Tweet
I teach that as well because sometimes, these things are varied. We haven’t thought about them for a while, but they could be super interesting to people. They inform how and why you are here, and you haven’t thought about them. You have to write them out to think about, “How would I talk about this?” It also brings up things that you maybe don’t want to talk about and makes you realize, “I need to let people know that I do not want to talk about this subject when I’m in an interview.”
The next phase is the competitive edge. It’s figuring out what’s unique about you. What are your moneymakers? What are your offerings? How are you going to make a living at this? We explore that a bit. Are you going to be more focused on music licensing or you want to be touring? It’s figuring out what your offerings will be. The important part is the target audience. Who is all your messaging for? That takes a little bit of research, figuring out who is your competition or who has the career that you would like to have in five years. How do they present themselves? What do their photos look like? Who are their fans? Figuring out who your ideal fan is so that you’re talking all your message directly to that person.
It’s all about content creation. At this point, hopefully, you are confident in who you are, what you want and why you want it. It’s time to share it with the world. It’s getting your website in order and making sure that you’re posting consistently on social media. I coach around setting up systems around that so that you’re not stuck figuring out what you’re going to post every day. That’s where the story vault comes in. There’s also an image vault like all your photographs. If you had sort out the different topics you’re going to talk about on social media. Maybe, it’s behind the scenes, when we explored your why, that could be a topic that you talk about and having photos that represent those stories you’re going to tell. Making a point of documenting your life. If you’re at rehearsal, make a point of taking pictures and videos so that you have content.
The last was communication. It’s one thing to post on social media all the time, but you have to communicate with others. It’s seeking out those ideal fans, commenting on their stuff, starting conversations, people and media skills. If you are at a conference, one day when we could do that again, have your small talk and how you’re going to connect with people. It’s a lot of that and then at this point, let’s do some publicity.
It sounds by then after you hit all those six C’s, you have the complete package where you can take advantage of it. You know how to handle yourself in an interview and capitalize on any publicity that you get when you’re investing in it. You don’t want to throw your money at something and hope something sticks. This way you have a way for it to stick.
You could hire a publicist or radio promoter, or if you want someone to coach you to start it on your own at least because there’s a lot. Start pitching blogs or Spotify playlists. There are different strategies for that. My goal is to get you so that those agents, media and bookers start coming to you.
The six C’s that you mentioned, is that something that is a long-term thing that they’re developing? Can they develop a baseline in all of those areas, and then they’re always improving?
You’re always improving. Your motivation and your core values don’t change too much. Your goals might change. It’s important to revisit some of these. Every year, you revisit what you say your goals were. How did you do on your goals? Do we want to change that? Are you wanting to go in a different direction? With the social media stuff, that’s changing all the time. It’s keeping up with it all.
That is true. It is changing all the time. It’s so much to keep up with. This has been awesome. I loved talking through all of this because it’s a completely different style of framework to look at exactly what I talk about in my framework. Mine is more on ascending through five stages where you build upon each stage. Whereas you’re talking more about six things that are always growing, changing and getting better with a baseline of things. You build your story for all. You have these assets, and then you can always build upon them. I love this angle. I appreciate you sharing all of that with us. Is there anything that we didn’t talk about in relation to PR or artist development that needs to be said?
I also know what I’m good at is one-on-one, building that foundation, PR and marketing. I’m not trying to be everything you could possibly need to know about the music industry. Even when it comes to Spotify, there’s that guy and he’s the expert on it. Go take his course or whatever it is they’re doing. If it’s not my expertise, so-and-so would be great on that. Go talk to that person.
I bring in people if I don’t know because I don’t want to give them a half-assed answer, “If you want to learn about this. This is the person. If you want to learn about music licensing, I am not your person.” We know them. That’s for sure. Go to the person that you need for the time and career that you’re in and the things that you need to work on. If that sounds like you, you want to reach out to Diane after reading all of this. Can you tell them how they can find you online?
I have a freebie that people can download that explains those six phases. It gives you getting-started tips. You can get it at DianeFoy.com/freebie. My website is DianeFoy.com. I also have a podcast, SingDanceActThrive.com, and ￼@IAmDianeFoyPR on all socials.
Thank you so much for sharing this framework with us, and for all of your knowledge and experience with PR. It’s appreciated.
Thanks for having me. It’s been great.
About Diane Foy
PR & Marketing Coach Diane Foy helps unstoppable musicians and actors attract fans, media, and industry so that they can book gigs and make money with their talents, without feeling overwhelmed or doubting themselves.
During her 16 years as an entertainment publicist, she has secured international media coverage for hundreds of musicians including Jane’s Addiction’s Perry Farrell, Sass Jordan, Big Sugar, DOA, and The Parlotones. Diane is also the host of the Sing! Dance! Act! Thrive! podcast.