Is it time to hire music PR? It's a big decision. After all, PR is expensive, and the results are never guaranteed. Before you sign up with a music PR firm, ask yourself - and them - these questions, so you can be sure PR is the right choice for you right now.
Can I Afford This?
PR is expensive. In many cases, it is VERY expensive. Although hiring PR can eventually help you make money, you have to put it into the right space in your budget. First and foremost, you need money to get your release ready, distribution set up and a reserve to cover the costs of playing shows. Consider these the basics. If you have to divert money from one of these expenses to pay for PR, you may not be able to afford to hire a PR company right now. If you compromise the basics, you won't get the most of your PR campaign anyway, since you won't be in the position to take advantage of it.
Can I Do This Myself?
If you want a small, regional promotional campaign, chances are that you can handle the work yourself. It will require some research and time, but if money is an issue, this might be your best bet. A PR company really becomes valuable when you are ready to mount a national promotional campaign that you might not have the time or contacts to accomplish yourself.
If you don't have the time and inclination to do a regional press campaign, outside PR can certainly handle the job. Just be aware that a campaign of that level is easily handled in-house and if money is a problem, this kind of campaign is a luxury.
What Am I Promoting?
A PR campaign shouldn't be general. It should be centered around a specific project and have specific goals. Such a project may be a new release or a tour. It should have a start date, and that start date should give the PR company plenty of time run the campaign (ie, don't hire PR three days before your tour starts).
Will The Project Get Press?
What is the likelihood that the specific project you want PR to work on will actually generate enough press coverage to justify the investment in outside PR? Be realistic. Your first indie release is probably not going to get reviewed in Rolling Stone. The best time to hire PR is when you have built up a little bit of buzz through your own work and have a project with a good promotion angle. This angle can be anything from an album promotion anchored to some tour dates or a unique story about how the project came together. This way, your PR company has something to work with.
Are My Expectations Realistic?
When you hire PR, you aren't buying guaranteed press and exposure. You are paying for the service of PR - someone to send out your music/tour dates/news to the media, follow-up with them, and try to convince them that you deserve some coverage. They can't MAKE anyone want to cover your projects, and unfortunately, they can't make anyone give the music a good review. Even the best PR company in the world with a lofty past client list can't guarantee you that even a single person will want to write about or play your music. That's reality. Get comfortable that you are paying for effort, not guaranteed fame and fortune.
Are They Being Honest With Me?
When you hire a PR company, you want one that is going to be honest with you about what they think they can achieve. If someone is trying to sell you the moon, steer clear. A PR company that is really on your side can sell you their services without pulling the wool over your eyes. Take promises that sound a little far fetched as a red flag.