How to Launch a PR Campaign for an Album Release
with Interscope Records' Kasturi Shan
The obvious first step.
Figure out what stories we want to tell with this album and with the artist; what are the emotions coming through during the first listen?
Approach the album and their work with a 360-vision. If it’s a new artist you’re working with, do a full Google “stalk” to get an idea of their voice, their aesthetic.
Talk to the artist and find out the inspiration behind the album and their work as a whole in order to build a strong brand identity for the long run. Find out the themes of the album. Is it inspired by their hometown or a certain place/person?
Narrow down the storytelling elements to help inform the way you want to promote it.
Build out how you want to tell the story by asking yourself how you’d want to run this campaign.
Is it via a more visual medium? Is it going to be a more fashion/lifestyle approach? Is it going to be a traditional music campaign? What are other ways to brand this out even more than the traditional routes?
Once you have the ideas and stories you want to tell with this album, have regular meetings with the artist, their management, marketing, and brand team to align your ideas and vision with the team at large.
It’s never a linear process and there are always revisions you have to make to your brainmap, but communication with all the teams involved is key. At times, those check-in conversations will turn into an opportunity for new ideas as well.
Do deep-dive research into news outlets and writers you want to reach out to for the album release.
Note down their exact names and where they work so you have a clear path. It’s important to see how the writers can enhance the story you want to tell. Sometimes they’re writers you might already have a relationship with. With a new writer, you need to learn more about them and their work.
For live performances: What are the live performances you want to do? Will it be at a talk show or NPR’s Tiny Desk, or both?
It’s all about problem-solving and finding out as many new avenues to tell the stories as possible. For example, if the album is inspired by their hometown, I will look into local news outlets and writers while having a large national campaign with Billboard or Rolling Stone.
Once you have everything planned out, start pitching. If you’ve already exhausted your first rounds of names, do more research and reach out to more people. My strategy often involves interviews, news items, profiles, live performances, and fashion/lifestyle.
If it’s a fashion piece, you have to be in constant contact with the outlet to arrange the perfect team for your artist and this album—from the stylist to the photographer to the brands they will be wearing for the shoot.
Tip: Also, it’s essential to align their fashion with their brand—not everyone is comfortable with experimenting with fashion and wearing the hottest labels at all times. If the artist is interested in fashion, you have to make sure that they embody it 24/7, not just during performances and interviews.
You've potentially already secured a couple of pieces, and when the album hits, hopefully, you've got a few more pieces that are potentially running.
However, I’m always inspired to do more for my artists. Post-release, I go back to my brainmap and check to see if I’ve managed to tell all of the stories I had planned previously. If not, I will do another round of press to keep the conversations going around the artist and their work.
If you’ve done the job well, there will be people reaching out to you. Not everything will be a perfect fit, but it’s important to build relationships with brands, news outlets, and journalists.
Pass along every single request to the Artist Management Team in writing, even when you don’t think it’s a match. You can always offer your opinion as to why you want to say yes or no, but you do not want to miss any opportunity.
Tip: My advice is to answer every single email that comes your way. If it’s not a match, just send a note and thank them for reaching out. I can’t tell you how many times when I’ve run out of ideas, I go back to these past request emails, and suddenly now it’s a perfect fit for this release.
When you have everything scheduled, it’s time to work with the other teams to ensure it’s a smooth-running process.
Find out what needs to be delivered to the outlets: are there images and other assets you need to send? Do you need to arrange photoshoots? Etc.