Quite Great Publicity is a PR agency that specializes in classic bands, such as Madonna, The Doors, and Jimi Hendrix, as well as new music, film, and eCommerce PR with an arsenal of public relations and word-of-mouth marketing campaign tactics. Among the new acts they helped propell was Sandhi Thom, one of their recent clients who was signed to BMG and released her first album in June of this year.
I had the opportunity to speak with Louise Molloy-Harris, PR Manager at Quite Great Publicity, about Quite Great’s approach to PR for new bands, and her recommendations for unsigned bands just starting out. Without further ado, here’s the scoop:
GARAGESPIN: Louise, your roster of clients is enormous. Quite Great specializes in the generation of sales for classic artists; how does Quite Great evolve to meet the challenges of promoting and/or launching new artists, as opposed to more established artists?
LOUISE: Over the past year we have realised the importance of building an online profile for new and establishing acts. We aim to get a hefty press pack together consisiting of reviews and interviews on various music sites as well as targeting fanzines, student press and regional press. We need to get these first stage building blocks before we go on to approach national press. The idea is that when a national journalist does receive a pack, if they google the name of the band they will see that they have a profile already on the net and feel that there is already a buzz.
GARAGESPIN: What are a few of Quite Great’s biggest success stories, and what made them such successes? What was the driving factor for the success so far of Sandi Thom’s campaign?
LOUISE: We have been going for 10 years, we always try and introduce a creative element to a campaign from driving tanks down regent street, to delivering the latest Guns ‘n’ Roses album, to projecting images of the Bee Gees on Battersea Power Station for their album ‘Stand Tall’ to transforming Zebra Crossings into piano keys for a classical pianist. Our success stories are different for each artist; success to us is getting positive press for an artist or band and getting them the recognition they deserve.
GARAGESPIN: When you first take on a new band as a client, what are the first steps Quite Great takes before formulating a Marketing and PR strategy?
LOUISE: We always sit down and meet the band, talk about their music, influences, their backgound — any interesting facts about their past, the instruments they play. Anything that we can use for an angle. We need to get to know the act and have a thorough understanding of how they want to be portrayed to the media. We can also advise them on image, artwork, marketing — pretty much anything they need help with.
GARAGESPIN: How do you find the balance between promotion and buzz generation, vs. fan suspicion and backlash? How real is the fear of angering customers when launching a campaign?
LOUISE: The buzz generation always starts with good music; if people don’t like the music, you can’t create a buzz. Our job is not to anger customers, just to make them aware of new music, whether that’s by them reading an album review, or a news story, or seeing a music video, etc. Our customer is the client. We are employed to get them in the press, then it’s down to them to keep on producing good music and win over the public.
GARAGESPIN: What recommendations would you make to unsigned bands with low budgets that are trying to get their music heard?
LOUISE: Try and start getting reviews yourself, build up a press pack, contact your local paper and get them behind you, look at sites like Drowned In Sound and see what reviewers like your style of music and send them a pack. Produce a press release, get someone that’s good with a camera and get some shots taken of you.
If you are sending packs out to A&R people at the majors, make sure it stands out, make sure the music is well produced. If it’s not, wait until you have the money to produce it properly. Set up a MySpace and start the buzz happening!
GARAGESPIN: When should a band consider contacting a PR or marketing firm, and how should they choose between different agencies?
LOUISE: Only choose to go with a PR [agency] when you have a 3 month budget in place, you have good artwork and product ready, and you have set up a distribution deal so people can actually buy your product.
Choose the one that’s most passionate about your music, don’t chose a company that tells you they will get you covered in the NME, there are no guarantees so you could spend loads of money and just get declines. You want a company that can tell you what they think they can realistically get you; you want results, not just feedback. Make sure you get a written proposal, that way you have a record of what they promised to do for you.
GARAGESPIN: Is there anything else you’d like to say to GarageSpin readers?
LOUISE: Be persistant, set up lots of gigs so you can get experience and suss out what songs work with an audience and which ones don’t. And most of all, always be passionate about everything you do. It’s all about the music!
GARAGESPIN: Great, thanks for your time, Louise, and best of luck with future campaigns!