Ever wonder how campaigns to promote artists and their music come together? Record labels hire a public relations specialist to promote a new release and generate as much press as possible. A touring artist may be scheduled to meet with local press before each concert.
Nashville based Anchor Publicity’s Colleen Lippert has clients all over the United States and Canada. Offering a vast variety of services, Anchor Publicity’s objective is to help clients reach their dreams as they work passionately to achieve that goal.
What is your educational and professional background?
I graduated from Marist College in 2014 with my B.A. in Communications/Public Relations and a minor in Criminal Justice. I moved to Nashville, Tennessee in 2015 and opened Anchor Publicity in 2016.
How did you get into public relations specifically?
I’ve always loved music. I attended my first concert (Cher!) when I was seven years old and fell in love with the whole production. Even at such a young age, it amazed me that one person could bring thousands of complete strangers together for a few hours. I loved singing along to the music and watching the dancers perform, but I was so intrigued with what happened behind the scenes. I wanted to be backstage, frantically running around while trying to go unnoticed. I’m a very shy person and I don’t like being in the spotlight — that’s why PR is the perfect career for me. I get to be up-close and personal with all the goings-on, but I get to do so behind the curtains.
Where did you get your formal training?
I interned at a few different PR firms around town before branching out on my own. I learned a lot of very valuable lessons — some great, some not so great — but they all helped mold me into the person I am today. I will forever be grateful for the opportunities that I was given.
Any mentors in the field that stand out above the rest?
I really look up to Kelly Cutrone. She came to my college campus frequently while I was a student and would give lectures about her experiences as a publicist. She has a tough love mentality, which I have always admired. Her famous line was “If you have to cry, go outside.” I think that piece of advice has stuck with me the most. This is a tough business and you have to have thick skin.
What role does a publicist serve in an artist’s career?
It’s my job to get people talking about you! I handle all media relations with bloggers, magazine editors, radio programmers, television stations, etc. and set up artist interviews. I also attend artists’ shows and ensure “meet and greets” with fans run smoothly.
At Anchor Publicity, we offer a variety of services including professional biographies, press release production, social media management, electronic press kits, tour press, album promotion, crisis management and general career guidance.
What is your definition of good PR?
To me, good PR is delivering the best possible results to my clients. Sometimes that means telling them what they need to hear — not what they want to hear. My job is to help them succeed in a very cut-throat environment. If something isn’t working, we need to fix the problem and come up with a better solution. Communicating and working as a team helps contribute to a good PR plan.
What is your day-to-day routine like?
PR is definitely not a 9–5, Monday-Friday job. No day is ever the same! Some days are very hectic — phone call after phone call, meeting after meeting. Sometimes I even have to set an alarm to remember to eat lunch! Other days I’m writing press releases, answering emails and sending pitches to media outlets from my office. It’s a lot of late nights and early mornings. I usually always have my cell phone or laptop in hand, but I love the adrenaline rush of keeping busy.
How would you describe the rewards of your profession?
There are so many! Locking in a magazine interview for a client, scoring national news coverage, booking a television performance — these are all very rewarding moments in our industry, but there is no feeling like watching your client succeed. For me, a simple “thank you” is the ultimate reward. It really boosts morale and lets me know all of my hard work has not gone unnoticed.
Is there a particular issue facing your industry as a group that you’re concerned with right now?
Everyone has a camera and video recorder on their phones, so it’s easy for situations to get misconstrued or taken out of context. Cyber bullying is a big concern right now — I advise my clients not to read the comments on social media. Words can be very hurtful and really take a toll emotionally.
It’s also important to stay in tune with current world affairs. Unfortunately, we live in very divided times. As a publicist, it’s important for me to keep my opinions neutral. I don’t want my feelings to have a negative impact on my career or my client’s career. If my client stands up for a cause, I will support them 100% — but I try to keep my work life and my personal life as separate as possible.
What is the biggest misconception about being a PR specialist?
There are SO many misconceptions about PR professionals. I think we sometimes get a bad rap — many people think we are just paid to walk red carpets and attend award shows. That couldn’t be further from the truth! PR is a 24/7 job. There are no days off.
As publicists, we work hard to meet our clients’ needs — but sometimes unrealistic expectations become a bit of a problem. In PR, you have to work your way to the top. If you are new to the music scene, you can’t expect to be featured in a huge magazine right off the bat. Those are coveted spots that have to be earned and a lot of people have trouble coming to terms with that. Publicists work diligently on their client’s behalf, but it’s hard to guarantee anything. Be as happy with small victories as you are with large ones.
The mentality that “any publicity is good publicity” is also a huge misconception. Not all PR is beneficial to your career. You don’t want to be known for the skeletons in your closet or your criminal record. Negative news coverage may have unpleasant effects on album sales, ticket sales, etc. This isn’t always the case, but it’s not something publicists like to gamble with.
Is there a particular moment in your career that you are especially proud of?
I get to work with an artist everyday who I’ve looked up to since I was a child. Being a part of that person’s team is a dream come true for me — but I think I’m most proud of just taking a risk and opening my own company. It was the scariest decision I’ve ever made, but also the most fulfilling.
How important is an artist’s pitch?
Extremely! A pitch can make or break a PR campaign. Pitches need to be professional and to-the-point, yet friendly and enthusiastic. Media executives receive thousands of pitches per week and it’s important that yours catches their eye.
What are the most important social sites that artists should be a part of?
Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Spotify, YouTube — these are all important. Any platform where you can gain a new fan or reach a new audience is a win.
What is a realistic time-frame for a PR campaign to show results?
It all depends on the artist’s goals. Some PR campaigns need months and months of planning, while others only need a few weeks. I like to sit down with an artist one-on-one and create the PR campaign together.
What are some of the changes you’ve seen, and what are some of the changes that you foresee in the music business?
Social media engagement has grown more and more important. It’s easy for fans to find new music and new artists on a daily basis with things like Instagram and Spotify. You have to keep reminding them that you’re still out there. It’s important to keep building connections with your fans.
I think everything will be digital within the next few years. Physical albums are becoming less popular as streaming becomes more popular. I’m a bit old-fashioned and will still play my CDs, but technology is always changing and I’m excited to see what the future holds for the music industry!
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