Working in the field of Public Relations and Communications has given me the opportunity to work with several different types of clients; startup companies, new designers, comedians and music artists. A pattern that is often overlooked is that no matter the business or area you are trying to break through, systematically the fundamentals are all laid down the same way across the board. So frankly speaking, if you haven’t “taken off” in your respected field yet, chances are that you are missing some fundamental pieces to branding you/your product. A little over a year ago I wrote up a piece covering some of the key essentials for breaking through the underground music scene for a blog colleague of mine, JustPolitickin (check them out if you have a chance). This time I’ve expanded it a little further to address those who seek professional help from either managers, publicists, attorneys or any other type of outsourced agents.
Set a budget
I cannot emphasize this enough! There are two types of entrepreneurs in this world: one that does it as a ‘side hustle’ or hobby and one that completely commits and submerges his/herself to their craft. Both however, should take the time to map out what it is they think they need to further their business, and then be ready to invest! This goes beyond investing in your business, but more so investing in yourself. Very few people will do work for free, so always keep in mind that you get what you pay for.
Set out a budget for production. What is it going to cost for the materials you need to provide to your consumers and audience. Whether you provide a service or a product (music, art, materials) you need to have things readily available to be pushed.
Set out an additional budget for promotion. Whether you are looking to create a team to fill in the areas that you lack, i.e. marketing, advertising, publicity and promotion, you need to understand that both money and time go into making this happen and it is easier for the professional help you seek out to develop an ideal plan tailored specifically to you based on your current budget. NO BUDGET = NO WORK!
Choose your contracts carefully
Don’t be afraid to ask for revisions. There are very few contracts for clients that come with a “one size fits all” approach. If something doesn’t feel right, say something! Contracts are a commitment, so you should be completely comfortable in what you are getting yourself into. Take the time to read it through and in between the lines. Some places will sneak in additional charges or fees that you may think were to be inclusive in the overall deal. Think of your options in relation to your budget. Are you more comfortable paying hourly to start? Or would you rather be assured a certain amount of hours committed to your project by establishing a retainer. Contracts should offer a level of assurance and security for both the service provider and the client alike, and they come in all different shapes and sizes. Do not be afraid to take the time to think things through before signing on the dotted line.
Tell them what you want, not what to do.
When seeking out professional assistance you are doing just that, asking a PROFESSIONAL for their ASSISTANCE. Chances are that you sought out this professional because of their history and track record with properly performing their job. Therefore, you’re not really there to tell them what to do. Although they are there to serve their client, and rest assured the client’s needs should always come first, they don’t need you there telling them how to do their job. If you feel those types of conversations are necessary, it is probably not the best fit professional relationship for you and your business. Let them know what your needs and wants are and have faith that they will execute a plan best fit for you, the client. Business is business and these relationships are a two way street.
Be OPEN, in all aspects
Outsourcing professional help may require you to think differently and try new approaches. Don’t be rigid and put yourself in a box. Like stated before, you are most likely working with this individual/set of individuals because of the work that they do. So trust them to guide you in the right direction, even if it takes you a little outside of your comfort zone. In fact, if they aren’t pushing you out of your comfort zone and into broader arenas then they again may not be the right fit for you. Be open to challenges and opportunities to expand your name and your brand. The bigger the risk, the bigger the reward. Be fully willing to take directions. Nobody wants to take on a client that won’t take their suggestions into consideration. What are they there for then? Never walk into a business agreement with an “I can do it all by myself” attitude. Seeking professional assistance should be a growing experience for you.
Fuel your following
Give them something to pay attention to! From personal experience, I have had artists come to me seeking promotion and increase on exposure to their music that was released over a year ago. That’s somewhat doable and all but in the long run people want to react to newer materials. We live in a consumer culture, where people find value in the materials they invest in. The newer the material, the higher the value, the higher the likelihood of a returning customer or audience. You aren’t going to be able to give your publicist or manager much to push and pitch for you if you aren’t coming up with ways to engage your consumers on a consistent basis. In a world fueled by “trending topics” you need to constantly have something to put up front for your customers to see.
BeYOU, not Beyonce
Beyonce has done it all and she’s done it right. She started young, followed her passion, built a team, worked her a** off, went solo, married a music mogul, and now has the world waiting on the edge of their seats for what Bey might just do next. Although the surprise –album-drop-trend has taken off since her late night surprise release of ‘Beyonce’, then followed by other artists including Drake and Kendrick Lamar, this is not a technique that just anyone can pull off. As previously stated, Beyonce [the brand] has the world waiting on the edge of their seats for what she might do next. Your <1.2K followers on Twitter and Instagram are probably not sitting around waiting for you to drop some fresh stuff, because they are too busy keeping up with the big names of the world. Your midnight “drop” may go completely unnoticed without the proper strategic planning and techniques to gain attention and anticipation from your audience. You and your brand are unique and need to strategically market to your specific consumers and followers. Increase the confidence in your brand promise, continue to deliver it, and you will see followers lining up and waiting for what is to come next.