Working at a top B2B tech PR firm rocks. But for me, that’s doubly true because I’ve been able to pursue music as a fun side hustle. In most cases, agency PR is a typical office job and being a musician is about performing live in front of people. But there are surprising parallels. In fact, my day job can sometimes feel like playing in the band. What’s more, I’ve been able to use the experience from each role to enhance the other. Here’s what I’ve learned as a musician and PR professional.
Whether you’re writing a byline or preparing for a gig, it’s important to understand your audience. Ahead of a live show, I always check out other bands on the bill to understand what kind of music they play and who will have the biggest draw. I’ll use that information to cater a setlist that will resonate with that audience while staying true to my band’s persona. This kind of targeting translates into PR-driven content, too. A bylined article for a tech or business publication, for example, must be written with the right audience and end goal in mind. A highly technical martech piece would be placed where a savvy mid-level executive would see it, not a consumer with no technical or martech experience. Keeping the audience in mind makes for an easier drafting process and a seamless pitch effort — or performance.
As PR professionals, we’re constantly on calls with clients to discuss any ongoing initiatives and brainstorming how to move a campaign forward. Sometimes, I find myself on the spot, when a client needs real-time advice, a course-correction during an interview, or a solution to strategy problem. I’ve learned to think on my feet and pivot where necessary. Sometimes we have to improvise in PR, and occasionally those work scenarios are actually similar to technical issues on stage. There may be a piece of gear that isn’t working in the middle of a performance, or one of us might forget part of a song. I’ll need to quickly troubleshoot to get the performance back on track, and most importantly, get on the same page with other musicians on stage to support them in a tricky moment.
A huge part of working in PR is developing relationships with relevant journalists. Finding success as a musician rests on similar principles. For example, a client working deep within the XR/Metaverse space will likely have a steady stream of announcements and proactive topics they can discuss with media. Having relationships in place with key reporters makes pitching as simple as a ‘hey, check this out’ email as opposed to a long-winded pitch explaining every aspect of the story. It’s similar to a musician’s role, because we create momentum for our band by forging connections with our peers and other industry figures. Posting on social media about a new song is one thing, but physically going to a venue where we know like-minded musicians can net new gig opportunities, or a relationship that’s fruitful down the line. You never know how a reporter or fellow musician can help in the future, and it’s important to approach all situations with an equal amount of respect and optimism.