5 Questions to Ask a Publicist

According to the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP), one of the primary publicist duties is to help you craft and share your story to consumers in a unique, relatable, and compelling way. A publicist is also responsible for ensuring that the details are never missed, ensuring that your brand is presented and packaged in a way that you get to tell the best story. Aside from that, they are also responsible for securing media opportunities and coverage for exposure of your brand with the right outlet at the right time.

From this perspective, one can say that a great publicist is somebody who can offer professional advice on anything related to your brand, such as product design, product launch, advertising, website content, and the events you need to attend. 

However, despite being a crucial part of an organization, not every company hires a publicist. In fact, according to Forbes, some company decision-makers are still asking when it's right to hire a publicist. Some even think they are just additional costs to a company's operation. And sometimes, those who want to work with a publicist are not quite sure how to approach them. 

In this guide, we're not only going to highlight the urgency to hire a publicist, but we'll also share some of the most important questions to ask a publicist you intend to work with. 

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These questions will help you channel your marketing efforts in the right direction.

1. Where do I need to go first?

Before you consult a publicist, you need to know first whether or not that the same person can help you with all your needs. While many people see “publicists” as a catch-all term to refer to professionals who can help with a company's public relations (PR) needs, they actually have different fields of specialization. 

According to Rutgers School of Communication and Information, a publicist can specialize in such areas as public relations; special events coordination; publicity management; political, civic, and government communication; media analysis; internal communications; corporate public affairs; community organization and outreach; and marketing.

directional signs

With that in mind, it's essential to work with someone who specializes in an area where you need help the most.

Is Alfred Hopton the right person to approach?

Aside from being versatile in public relations, Alfred Hopton specializes in more fields than other publicists in the industry. He is also well-connected, which means that he has all the resources that needed to make remarkable changes to your brand and boost its value.

With over 25 years of experience as a publicist in the entertainment industry, Alfred has helped manage campaigns and events for international award telecasts like the Grammys and American Music Awards, nutrition companies, nonprofit organizations, and film companies.  He also worked in the  entertainment divisions of prestigious firms such as Rogers & Cowan PR and Baker Winokur Ryder, where he handled media relations for the WWE, MCI, Adobe, The Gersh Agency, Bennett Media, The Institute for Creative Technologies, and New Wave Entertainment. He has also worked closely with talent relations and TV productions such as the Miss Universe and Miss USA pageants, Access Hollywood, Hallmark Channel’s Home & Family, Penn & Teller’s Fool Us and more. 

His colleagues would describe him as an exemplary publicist with a sterling reputation, with a strong skill set and dynamic personality. All these industry experiences not only allowed Alfred to establish the right connections, but these also made him the best publicist to work with.

2. How do my assets look?

Now that you've decided on the right person to approach for your company's publicity needs, it's time to sit down with them and discuss your current assets. From written materials for executives to website design and maintenance, a company’s physical and media assets are a key component in building a launch strategy for your brand. This is where you begin to take your first step forward but where should you start? Well, you can look at how you’re doing on social media for one.

checking assets

The important role of social media

Social media significantly changed the way branding is done. In the past, to make your brand known, you need to work on your PR, marketing, and advertising strategies. You need to implement each of these strategies individually. But now, social media has made it possible to implement them in one package. You can leverage on it to gather leads, do market research, promote your brand, and deliver your message. 

According to the media experts at Georgetown University's School of Continuing Studies' Center for Social Impact Communication, PR and social media should align. They explained that, now, the water is wholly muddled, and different marketing ideas have been intertwined.

PR is focused on influential people, like business leaders, celebrities, and other successful individuals. Since social media has brought these individuals together in one place, it is now commonly used for PR purposes.

Social media and PR, combined, have become a very effective tool in spreading news and stories about brands, boosting their reputation.

Getting real with your publicist

It's important that you ask your publicist to make a thorough and honest review of your company's current standing. Ask them how well your social media presence is. You can also seek answers to relevant questions, like “what press materials do we have at present?”, “what platforms can we promote?”, and “what specific area in our current PR strategy should we improve?”

By asking these questions, your publicist can help you decide which route to take.

3. Am I being rescued or am I being heralded?

One of the most important questions to ask a publicist is whether or not you already have a good reputation or a current PR issue. Sometimes, you feel like people are neither hating nor loving your brand, but the numbers don't add up.

You see, there are specific steps you need to follow to know your real brand reputation. However, reputation management can be very difficult, especially without the help of a professional.

man checking public relations

You need to sit down with your publicist and hear the news straight from the horse's mouth. This way, you'll know what issues you need to address. For example, you might find out that you need to:

  • Realign your core brand assets

  • Refine the way you communicate to your target audience

  • Revise your success story to make it more inspiring

  • Revisit your target persona

  • Try new marketing channels

  • Entirely consider a new branding campaign.

These are just some of the steps you might need to take to improve your brand image.

4. How much will it cost?

This is an important question to ask especially when you're discussing a new campaign with your publicist. The cost of any PR effort will largely depend on your needs. 

For example, you're a well-known artist and marketing a world tour. You can expect the PR cost of this campaign to be higher than if you were about to launch your band to the world.

calculating cost

The primary factors that would dictate the PR cost include event size, company size, expectations, artists and celebrities involved, publicity on the national or local press, and promotion on different websites. Discuss the details of your campaign with your publicist, so that you get a more accurate idea of the total PR cost. 

How your PR strategist can help you with your budget

As you already know, PR budgets are ever-evolving, elaborate concoctions of different factors. Since paid media and owned media are now gaining traction, earned media is slowly declining. Because of this, the emphasis is now being placed on content creation and sharing, which is a practice that's quite expensive. 

The high cost of content marketing can potentially outrun a PR agency's budgetary constraints. Accordingly, it's essential to move forward with cost optimization. According to an article by George Washington University, this can take different forms that will cut across different tactics and strategies like the following: 

  • Reevaluating your PR campaign's life cycle length to shorten it to leave more room for iteration

  • Regularly updating media relationships, thereby focusing on PR forms like press releases 

  • Optimizing content through the selective promotion of established and currently-successful organic pieces, as well as making or press pages 

These are just concrete examples of how your publicist can help you build and establish your budget.

5. When do I start?

starting point

The truth of the matter is you can't start when you don't have a plan in place. When you speak with your publicist, you must discuss with him the details of your campaign. Specifically, you can talk to him about the following: 

  • What kind of activity or campaign are you planning to hold? 

  • How big will the event or campaign be?

  • How much does music PR cost?

  • Where will the event suppose to happen?

  • What do you intend to achieve with the event or campaign? 

  • When will the event or campaign happen? 

  • What does the publicist do for a music artist or company facing issues?

When all these questions to ask a publicist are answered appropriately, your publicist can easily map out all the activities that go into advertising your event or campaign. Along with this list of activities is a detailed timeline, with information about when to start. 

Start now!

While these questions are essential to determining the success of your marketing and PR campaign, they will only be of value if you address them to the right person. Since publicity necessitates the proper exposure at the right time and channel, you need a publicist for hire who has the right set of skills and the perfect connections. 

Alfred Hopton is the man for the job. With years of experience under his belt, he can take on any event or campaign and help you bring your brand message to your target market with efficiency.