Chat with the Pro (Publicity): Emily Cheung from On The Map PR

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Chat with the Pro (Publicity): Emily Cheung from On The Map PR

 THE ROLE: A good publicist will help you put together a comprehensive campaign to promote the product you have, but more importantly, they help you work out the best way to communicate your story to the world and the music industry through the media. This may include:

– Helping write your bio and press releases

– Creating or honing your image

– Giving constructive criticism on your performance or brand

– Introducing you and your music and/or art to the right people in the music industry

– Helping you define your target market

– Giving career advice based on their past experiences with other artists

– Getting you into lots of online and print press

– Getting you lots of radio airplay

How did you get into your job/field? 

I studied Professional Communications at RMIT, majoring in PR, print journalism and radio. I was working a part time PR job while I was at uni and then scored a job as Victorian Promotions Assistant for Sony Music pretty much straight out of uni. I worked for Sony for seven years and moved around the country for them, eventually returning to Melbourne to run the VIC PR team. I then left to start my own business, On The Map PR which has been running for 3.5 years now.  We are music publicity specialists and I absolutely adore my job.
What’s the best thing about your job? 
We have the privilege of working in the music industry and get to work with incredibly talented bands and artists on a daily basis – it rarely feels like work. It’s pretty cool that every single person has some form of connection with music, it makes us feel things.  Running my own business, I now get to choose the artists whose music we believe in and are passionate about.
What’s the worst thing about your job? 
I can pull some pretty interesting and long hours. We might have breakfast radio with an artist, so up at 5am and then head to the office to lock down more interviews for our acts and then back out to their gig that night. There are usually a few beers with the band after the show, before getting up to do it all again the next day. Lots of pretty crazily long days, but the way I look at it is that the band has often run the gauntlet of the day with me and is then required to put on a full show and socialise with fans, which is when I get to sit back and enjoy it – so they’re the hardest workers of all!  
What does an ‘average’ day look like? 
There’s usually a meeting with media of some sort, or an interview, photoshoot or live performance with a band.  But the bulk of my day is spent in the office writing media releases and chatting with media about locking in editorial for our bands, whether it be an interview or getting features live about new music/video clips/tours and whatever else is going on.  
What are the main skills a publicist should possess? 
A publicist must be a great communicator and have a love of people and socialising. They should also be proficient in the English language/writing and have a high level of organisation. So you really need to be a chatterbox, have the ability to make fast friends and have a genuine interest in the field you’re working.
What’s been a career highlight for you? 
I’ve been so lucky to work with quite a few of my all time favourite artists and have some pretty amazing memories from my time in the industry over the years. I got to hang out with Incubus and take them surfing when I was working for Sony in Perth, I had Bruce Springsteen dedicate my fave of his songs to me and try and find me in the audience to pull me up on stage, had a hugely fun and massive night with Foo Fighters in Sydney. The list goes on…too many to note!
What piece of advice would you give to those who are thinking about becoming a publicist? 
There’s a lot to learn and it’s all about building up your media relationships. You’ve got to start somewhere, so don’t be afraid for it to be the bottom rung. Be persistent, be prepared to work hard and get some runs on the board. Prove your worth and you’ll get noticed and all your hard work will pay off. I stuffed a lot of envelopes in my early years; lots of mail outs, lots of clippings!
What’s the biggest misconception about publicists? 
When I tell new people that I work in publicity, the usual reaction is, ‘Oh wow, but you’re so down to earth!” Guess what, we are communicators, that’s why we choose to work in this field. Most publicists are genuine and aren’t plastic fantastic. We are real, everyday people with a love of people, so most publicists are down to earth and fun.
If your’e interested in studying music or publicity, Oxygen Collage are a music industry education specialist that offer courses in music and business management.  

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