PR is often a thankless job. Publicists act as the conduit between an artist, the public and media. They are more than just an email sender and receiver, but they also come up with marketing strategies, manage crises, build communities and deal with press requests. The job has evolved dramatically over the years from sending physical copies of music to physical magazine outlets, to dealing with streaming, social media and digital publications.
While Magnetic interacts with dozens of PR people every day, we decided to add a few more emails to the chain with a new Industry Insider featuring one of those in the inbox quite a bit. Lydia Laws is the founder/director of LLPR, an international boutique PR and communications agency specializing in her chief passions: music, lifestyle and environmental / charity initiatives. She founded LLPR in 2016.
Lydia Laws has worked with artists and labels including Sasha, Blond:ish, fabric, TSHA, Giorgia Angiuli, ANNA, Dusky and others. She also works with environmental initiatives like Fridays for Future youth groups, Bye Bye Plastic and more. She’s worked in music PR for 8 years, and prior to that was a music journalist, and has over a decade’s experience in the industry.
With the company’s 6-year anniversary on the horizon, we decided to chat with Laws about being a modern publicist, working on campaigns across music and social activism, moving from journalism to PR and much more.
How do you pick the clients you want to work with?
I’ll only work on projects and artists I believe in. Then I ask myself, where do this artist’s sound and identity fit in the industry? If you have clients who are too similar, you can end up competing with yourself for the same press!
What drew you to music PR from journalism?
I’d always wanted to work in PR, events and journalism, and did various internships and jobs before working in music. Being a music journalist at Ibiza Spotlight in 2013 got me into the music world doing my first Ibiza season. I enjoyed it, but I wanted to be more personally involved in the long-term success of the artists and producers making the music I love.
What are some of your favorite campaigns that you have worked on?
So many, but being at the heart of Blond:ish’s Bye Bye Plastic charity meant a lot to me, especially when we launched the Eco Rider - we had over 1500 DJs sign up, and I secured support across some pretty epic press including GRAMMY, BBC, The Line of Best Fit.
I’d also say Sasha’s Re-Fracted live shows. It was such a seminal moment in his career and nothing can quite beat seeing a show you’ve all been working hard on come together.
Working with the live musician and producer Ash is an absolute joy too, from his DJ Mag cover story to his Cercle debut in the White Desert. He is incredibly talented and deserves all his achievements. Working with Climate Live, founded by Fridays for Future organizers, was really special. Getting a request from morning TV (Good Morning Britain) to interview Greta Thunberg was quite a “pinch me” moment. So many wins and surprises come with this job, I love that.
Ecoactivism is an increasingly hot topic in dance music. What are some ways we can get more of the business to take this seriously, including the superstar DJs who fly on their private jets pretending to care about the environment?
We all need to play our part – ideally, major festivals etc should offset artists’ travel as part of their contracts (or this could be split between artist and event brand) and larger artists should do this themselves for smaller events. Bigger artists, brands or management companies / booking agencies could use a sustainability consultant to see what’s achievable. Planning tours to involve less travel would help a lot too.
DJs can offset their flights with a legitimate company like Gold Standard, request plastic-free riders at shows, use their public profile for positive environmental discussions and events (beach cleans, ditch the straw, reuse recycle etc.). We can also all eat less meat and switch to plant-based food - animal agriculture accounts for up to 18 per cent of global emissions, while aviation accounts for around two per cent (Climate Watch, the World Resources Institute, 2020).
How have you seen promo pitching for radio and DJs change over the past seven years?
There are so many brilliant artists out there now, we have to be more and more creative and original in pitching stories around our clients to make our pitches stand out in someone’s inbox.
What do you think makes a successful music publicist in 2022?
Honesty, communication, imagination, and passion. More than ever, we need to be upfront with artists about what’s realistic for them at their career stage. Passion is vital, as a lot of time and energy goes into each project, and you can do a better job if you’re excited by the music, or you really believe in that artist’s talent.
What are the most common requests that clients or potential clients want from a PR campaign and how have those changed over the years?
The Holy Grail used to be Essential Mix / magazine cover / RA review. Now with DSPs and digital evolution, it could be a Cercle live stream (a career game-changer), or getting your track playlisted on mainstream radio, or picked up by a massive Spotify playlist. I also think a lot of artists now are savvier about what platforms suit them and their sound.
What is something about music PR that often goes unnoticed in the work you all do, but deserves more credit?
Some don’t realize that PR is a crucial part of the artist’s team. You might be releasing incredible music or playing fantastic sets, but are you reaching media / tastemakers? If not, how are you going to grow your career, or your fan base? PR can ensure that all your hard work and that of your booker / management / social team finds its reward. I think maybe people aren’t aware of how much energy, time and commitment we put into projects and how much research we do when we take on a new client or campaign.
How many emails do you send per week?
Ooh tough one – this really depends on what I’m working on, but a few hundred maybe? I’ve sent around 60K emails since I started LLPR in 2016, not sure what that means though! When I first started out it felt like you should be sending hundreds of emails 24/7 to do a good job, but that’s not the case. Thoughtful, well-tailored pitches get better results, and it’s great to get on the phone or video call with contacts too, more so after the last couple of years.