Top 5 tips for an effective PR campaign

How is it that it’s already September? More than half of the year has passed, and with it, came along bittersweet, monumental events. The World Cup, for instance was a month long, nail biting competition that was full of emotions, surprises and… phenomenal opportunities for PR and marketing firms to get creative with their campaigns.

That Suarez biting saga for instance, triggered F&B creative agencies to jump on the bandwagon, creating viral campaigns out of the situation. Meats Category Director of Mattesson, a UK based processing meat company, candidly made a public offer to Suarez for the job as a meat taster. Similarly, Snickers chocolate bar came up with a tagline, “More satisfying than an Italian”, while a trending hashtag of #bansuarez began to trickle down the interweb’s grapevine.

While it is evident that timeliness and trends add a little “bite” in your campaigns, what really makes you stand out and reach your intended audience?

With that being said, here are a few hot tips to consider.

 1. Get those creative juices flowing

Creativity is the key to success. It is important to effectively exercise creativity in a digital space.  A good PR campaign is thought provoking, and reaches out to your target market without coming across as too try-hard. It easily communicates with people, enforcing a natural response to your brand, allowing people to embrace it rather than having it forced on them.

2. Don’t underestimate the real power of social media

Social media is one of the most cost effective methods, and one that shows no signs of slowing down, especially in Southeast Asia (for tips on how to communicate your brand in this region, read our posthere.)

It is easily one of the best ways to interact with a mass audience across the globe. For instance Calvin Kleinlaunched a campaign, encouraging users to post a ‘selfie’ wearing an item from the brand with the hashtag #mycalvins. The campaign reached around 250 million people, successfully engaging directly with their core demographic.

3. Visually stimulate through video

Video engagement proved to be the highest activity online, especially among Singaporeans, so don’t be shy to get in front of the camera and show the world what you can do. In addition, with the rise of video mobile apps introduced to the market, like the latest Hyperlapse from Instagram, creating a short clip can now be done at the flick of a button, being a lot more accessible and powerful than ever.

The recent viral explosion of the Ice Bucket Challenge across social media has taken the interweb by storm.  As an effort to raise awareness of ALS disease, participants (including many celebrities and influencers) were encouraged to dump a bucket of ice on one’s self, donate to the charity and then nominate others to partake.

4. Bring meaning to your campaign

The ice bucket challenge has definitely gotten its fair share of attention, and naturally, debates have also swelled. Skeptics have argued about the messaging getting lost within frivolity of the act. With this in mind, it is crucial to not have the message be too disparate with the brand’s campaign. On the flipside, an interesting article on Forbes by Matthew Herper defended the movement with some pretty valid points.

Participation and likes may lose its appeal quickly if the messaging is weak. Proving the real worth of a campaign is through meaningful ROI. Bring more value by educating and gaining some insight into your audience.

5. Consumer Trends


Lastly, keeping abreast with the latest trends, from new apps, to the latest publications, and even current affairs, enables you to better understand consumers and the media. This greatly helps in being able to communicate your message across more efficiently landing your brand the recognition it deserves.

Got an announcement to make about your brand? Let the people know through a press release, download our checklist on crafting the perfect media release here.

If you’d like to discuss your public relations approach, get in touch with us at [email protected]
Hy! Berlin Summit 2014 image by Heisenberg Media is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Why your startup needs public relations

Plunging into the fast-paced, high-risk world of startups and entrepreneurship is exhilarating and nerve-racking — and it takes more than guts and grit to make it and be the next big thing. If you’re equipped with a groundbreaking idea and your product’s ready to hit the market, odds are you’re doing everything to spread the word: telling everyone you see about your startup, and making your rounds in networking circles to meet fellow entrepreneurs, potential clients, and scooping up an investor or two along the way.

What many startups fail to recognise at this stage is how much of a game changer public relations (PR) can be. PR is particularly crucial and most effective when a startup has just launched, and smart PR can directly impact your brand perception, company revenue and investor opportunities.

Some entrepreneurs we meet don’t see the need for PR. They believe a good idea will sell itself through word-of-mouth and personal networks. That’s definitely important, but it’s hardly enough. Public relations — and media coverage in particular — will provide you with a far wider reach than you can imagine and act as a launch pad for your big idea. Here’s why PR should be taken seriously, whether you take a stab at it on your own or get some help from industry experts.

1. Introduce your brand to the public
Media coverage in key news outlets will introduce your brand to the public. In Singapore, think The Straits TimesTODAYThe Business TimesChannel NewsAsia and other tech sites like e27, ZDNet Asia and more that are the perfect gateways to public recognition. How often have you read about a new company while flipping the newspapers or browsing news sites? Your startup could be recognised in the same way.

Public relations is essentially brand outreach to the public and your stakeholders through various media channels. Yes, you’ll still want to rely on word-of-mouth, and yes, social media should be an important element of your PR campaign, but what happens when these are combined with media coverage? Brand recognition increases by leaps and bounds.

2. Be searchable
Have you ever Googled a company, brand or product, only to find it’s not a top hit, and then give up digging for more information? With news features, potential clients searching for you will find your brand across a slew of media coverage, rather than a lonely link low on Google search.

For your startup to do well, you’ll want to build on your search ranking through search engine optimisation (SEO) to help people easily find your brand online. SEO isn’t a quick fix and takes concerted effort. Media coverage is a great way to boost your SEO, particularly online news articles that link back to your website, weaving strong backlinks. You should also ensure you have SEO best practices in place early on – here are some tips from Mutant.

3. Gain credibility
Consumers today are smart and informed. Before your potential clients buy your products or use your services, they’re researching your brand — they’ll read reviews and look into your online presence before making a purchasing decision. News coverage in reputable news sites and publications will give much-needed credibility to your services and products, particularly when you’re relatively unknown.

If journalists buy into what you’re offering, their favourable reviews will be the best endorsements. Many of them are influential, with loyal readers who treat their words as gospel truth. And news articles that quote your product users who speak to its awesomeness will add even more credibility.

4. Investors see you
Every startup needs funding — and PR will increase your chances at striking the VC lottery. Venture capitalists, government entities and rich folks are on the lookout for investment opportunities in the news. Positive coverage highlighting your business proposition and growth potential is bound to turn a few heads.

A startup we recently helped to launch in Singapore is an entrepreneur’s dream come true. Combining an excellent product with dedicated PR pushes, we secured news coverage in national newspapers The Straits Times and TODAY, popular news sites such as e27 and Yahoo! Singapore News and more, which led to calls from a major government research agency keen to invest in the app and a major client who wanted to roll out the service at scale. When you hit the media that matter, you’re going to get noticed.

5. Become a thought leader
The establishment of trusted brands goes beyond good products and services — the best ones establish themselves as a thought leader and knowledge expert in the field. As a first step, you should craft opinion pieces for targeted media and land your commentary in industry news articles. When your brand starts to get recognised, you could speak at industry events to share your insights with stakeholders.

Building thought leadership is a gradual process, and you’ll want to start working on it soon as possible. If I’m an investor or consumer looking to invest my hard-earned money in a startup and its services, I’m far more likely to trust a startup with a business leader who’s knowledgeable, rather than any other brand who’s merely jumping on the startup bandwagon for the ride.

6. Receive valuable feedback from journalists

Many journalists, particularly those focussing on technology and startups, are knowledgeable about the industry and they’ve seen many startups make it and break it. Some might think of journalists as writers who’re only out to catch them off-guard for a sensational story, while others see journalists purely as mouthpieces for their brand. Don’t treat a media interaction purely as transaction, especially in Singapore where journalists are open to conversations.

Along with your interview, make an effort to sit with them over coffee and find out what they think about your products and services. Have an honest conversation and pay attention to what they have to say. You might be surprised at their suggestions, which could help you re-consider loopholes you’ve missed.

PR complements your startup’s initial launch and can be really impactful in driving growth. Not every news article is going to land you a million dollar investment, but every PR step you take in the right direction will persuade your potential clients, add credibility to your brand, and boost your online presence to eventually establish you as the startup to look out for.

This article was first published 14 July 2014 on e27.
If you’d like to discuss your public relations approach, get in touch with us at [email protected].
Startup Live Vienna image by Heisenberg Media is licensed under CC BY 2.0.


Common myths of Public Relations – and what we really do

Public relations gets a lot of flack. It often stems from a misunderstanding of what is actually required in the role. From hedonistic party animals, to the bane of many journalists’ existence, PR people have been brandished with many negative stereotypes.

I will try to banish the common myths associated with PR by sharing a basic rundown of what actually gets done in the office (besides the daily tipple or two, and hanging out at the VIP section of the club during the weekends).

The Bad Spin

“Without PR, Cinderella was just a drunk princess who lost her shoes at a party.”

The PR spin is often mistaken for deceit, when it really is quite the opposite. We pride ourselves on conducting thorough research and coming up with creative story ideas to help enhance your brand’s credibility. We are honest storytellers with sincere motives and we are keen on sharing with the public what our clients do.

Never say no

Our aim is to run a campaign that meets our clients’ needs, and this leads to the next misconception – that we are pushovers incapable of saying no. Which leads to the accusation of incessant and irrelevant pitching. (For our fellow PR friends and marketers, here are some tips on pitching gracefully to the media).

In actual fact, we first listen to our client’s needs, then consult with them on a suitable media strategy, and establish clear expectations on what we can deliver. We foster confidence and reassure clients that sometimes, the story they want to tell is not going to fly with the media or public. It’s our job to help them craft a message and strategy that will be valuable and of interest to news outlets.

Sticking to the old school

Some traditional PR methods still stand the test of time, but as consumer trends evolve, so does PR. Old PR approaches would include writing a press release and pushing it to media. These days we’re looking at all the channels available to a brand to reach out to their audience.  This means staying on the pulse of changes in marketing, social media, search engine algorithms, inbound marketing and much more – these trends provide fascinating user insights that will complement traditional efforts.


Good PR is more than hardselling stories to journalists or glorifying brands to sway public perception – we are about telling engaging, newsworthy and truthful brand stories across the most suitable platforms. Only then will the media and public start trusting a brand and its products.

13 rules when writing a press release


To find out how Mutant can help with your PR efforts, drop us a line at [email protected].

Disney – Cinderella Castle Mosaic Selective Coloring image by Joe Penniston is licensed under CC BY 2.0.


How to approach bloggers and establish good relationships

Bloggers of our day have been bestowed with something that even stirs the jealous bones of news teams – loyal, trusting readers. Pictures of newly-adopted kittens, short articles about food, and event reviews filled with selfies and one-too-many canapé pictures – which would be considered taboo for traditional news outlets – live flamboyantly on blogs and entice countless readers.

What we’re seeing today is a shift of consumer preference, and oftentimes trust, in the content they consume. Rather than professionally written news pieces, many are seeking entertaining, picture-filled blog posts drizzled with humour, sarcasm and written in simple English. Consumers look to blogs to form their purchasing decisions and the marketing impact of a persuasive, well written blog post is undeniable.

Many blogs are functioning with structured editorial teams in place, but they still work differently from newsrooms, which is why brands need to do a little homework if they hope to land a spot on popular web logs.

First impressions do count, and it’s important to start off on the right foot when you approach bloggers. But how can brands actually start approaching these digital wordsmiths?

By now, you would have done your research and compiled a comprehensive list of potential bloggers who you feel best represent your brand.

While bloggers in the past might have accepted impersonal notes from PR and marketing executives, they are less appreciative of it today. Make sure you write a personalised note to each blogger, building rapport and clearly stating what your brand offers and how you’d like to partner with them. Keep in mind that they are not obliged to rave about your product or write a story off a generic press release, even if you give them a freebie.

It’s not a ‘numbers game’ anymore, so avoid the automated approach of mass emails to hundreds of people (which will likely end up in the spam folder, and result in your email address getting blocked). Focus instead on building an actual relationship with the relevant bloggers in order for them to understand and trust your product or service. Only then will they become true brand advocates.

While everyone wants the big and famous blogs with a massive following, credible smaller blogs are often easier to approach and work with, and can spur the larger blogs to take notice.

Before reaching out, start following them on social media and reading their blogs to get an idea of how they tick. Better still, become a genuine fan of their blog – start reading, sharing, and commenting on their posts. That way, you’ll understand how your brand can fit in with the blog’s narrative and come up with suitable angles.

Take the relationship from cyberspace to real life after you’ve personally written to the bloggers – nothing beats human interaction. Have a chat about your brand and make sure you highlight anything that could be of interest to their readers. The quality of your product or brand is going to inspire the blogger to write about it, much more than your tenacity or gift-giving.

Bear in mind that the aim is not to receive unpaid advertising – bloggers truthfully share their experiences about products and services. If you want to buy a sponsored spot on their blog, it will be highlighted as such.

Bloggers have real impact and genuine points of view, and genuine interactions will always yield much greater results. So get creative, and get personal! It’s time to hit the blogs.

For more information on how Mutant can help with blogger engagement, get in touch with us at [email protected]


Chase Jarvis and fiercekitty – Photowalk Gnomedex 2009 image by kris krüg is licensed under CC BY 2.0.


Hello, Asia! (How to communicate your brand and engage with media)

That feeling of complete helplessness that occurs when you find yourself in a strange land, surrounded by unrecognisable smells, tastes, sounds, faces or landmarks, is culture shock.

Sometimes it comes as a complete surprise – you might be well-travelled in a region, and well-versed in what you do, but still feel completely alien in a certain corner of the world. This is particularly true of Asia, both a melting pot and a large patchwork of countries, cultures and languages.

Watching the news or picking up a paper in a new place can be a big indicator of the shift in culture, language and tradition. It’s no surprise then that despite the regions being very geographically close, news outlets across Vietnam, Thailand and Singapore operate very differently. Whilst you might be well-versed on Asia as a region, you’ll need to understand and manage the complexities of the each specific country or city’s journalists’ motivations and media processes if you want to build a solid foundation for your brand.

In subsequent blog posts, we’ll elaborate how media in the key markets operate. Firstly, here are some journalist traits we’ve noticed are consistent in the region:

  • Deference and face, leading to shyness and reticence to ask questions in public settings
  • Language and cultural barriers (where ‘yes’ can sometimes mean ‘no’)
  • Displays of passiveness and quietness
  • Preference of personal over public contexts
  • Often younger – bright and clever, but without depth of knowledge and experience
  • Everything is captured, socialised and shared

While journalists differ from country to country, media still encompass a core, similar structure across geographical boundaries. Anywhere in the world, media want the freshest, breaking, headline-grabbing news. Journalists have a duty to inform, entertain, and enlighten their audiences – your story should make their job easier. News editors are looking for human interest and relevance. What’s the benefit for my country, and how will this development affect my people? Apart from words, media are also looking for sound-bites and visuals (even in print).

Be it Singapore, Japan, Indonesia or another Asian country, your in-person media engagements as part of public relations should always check the following boxes:

  • Always check for understanding
  • Be doubly accurate with numbers
  • Provide written summaries (spoon feed)
  • Prepare to lead the conversation, but don’t be afraid to stop
  • Prepare for the ‘door stop’
  • Prepare to be recorded and photographed endlessly by a smartphone wielding media

So, what’s your story? Regardless of your business or industry, you need to package a story and message that’s relevant to your audience. How will your announcement impact people? How is it relevant to the market? What solution does this provide to a specific market’s problem? Walk a mile in your future customer’s shoes to fully understand the context of the situation, and then execute a tailored and well-suited plan.

Here is a quick list of tips you can check against before you pitch stories to media:

  • Make sure you know where the journalist is from. For example, Bangkok Post is different from Reuters, and needs to be handled differently
  • Put your audience in the headline
  • Repeat your key point or message
  • Provide a written copy that can be used
  • Get help to prepare in advance – the best don’t leave this to chance

Before you dive into PR campaigns in a new, unfamiliar Asian market, take a moment to understand and appreciate the complexities of the media in your target country or region.

You might also be interested in Mutant’s handy guide for writing press releases. Get in touch to find out how we can help build your brand reputation in Asia and engage with media. Reach us at [email protected].

Hong Kong 2013 image by Singaporean photographer Adrian Seetho


Who are you? Finding your brand voice

You might have your elevator pitch down, and you might have a new strapline to display alongside your logo, but do you and your team really know the personality behind your branding?

Do you know how your brand speaks, who it speaks to and how it reacts in stressful situations?

I’m not talking about the introduction to the brand document you pass to new staff members on their first day of the job and I’m not talking about the logo guidelines drawn up by your communications team. I’m talking about defining the way your brand acts, speaks and reacts every day, be it walking down the street to lunch or through its daily interactions on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Linkedin. The “brand voice” I am talking about extends to phone manner and emails written to customers or clients.

You probably already have a brand voice without labeling it as such, but it’s still a useful exercise to sit down with your team every couple of months and tweak or reinforce who you are, what you are trying to say, and how to get this acrosss on social media.

Set aside an hour and allow space for everyone to go wild, scribbling words and ideas all over whiteboards, rolls of paper, or even walls.

The aim of the exercise is to ensure each member of your team is representing your brand in the best possible light and also to develop much greater efficiencies in your social engagement.

Too many small businesses and organisations waste hours on Facebook or Twitter posts that either don’t reach or don’t resonate with their target audiences. Usually it’s because they’re either on the wrong platform, or they’re sharing the wrong sort of content.

Defining who you are and who you are not will help your team determine which networks you should be on, or perhaps more important which you should not bother with, and what you can be doing to make best use of your time on social media.

The second part of the session encourages your team to develop realistic steps towards achieve the brand’s social media goals. It also asks you to come up with specific, realistic targets, such as an increasing your number of followers or shares per post. Reviewing these targets every few weeks or months will help you determine whether or not you are on track, and allow you to make adjustments to your social media calendar.

Need to find your voice? Drop a message to [email protected] 

Why you need PR and how to be good at it

I love writing down my thoughts and voicing my opinions – and the fact that my company has a blog on which I can do this is great. But every now and then, I come across something that says it all for me.

This piece in Venturebeat is one of those pieces, and answers that burning question I find myself addressing at every networking or drinking or socialising event.

Why on earth is PR beneficial to a business? People will ask this all the time. “I have my stickers, I have my website, I have my fliers, I even have my ad appearing in high-profile magazine. Why do I need PR?”

Or, “why can’t I just write a release and send it out myself?”

Well, when was the last time you opened a spammy email from a stranger talking about a new product, or shared a static ad on Facebook. When was the last time you wore a branded sticker on your lapel to support a brand you didn’t have a personal connection to? Unless the advertiser is running a multimillion dollar campaign employing the world’s top satirical advertising creatives, your stickers are unlikely to contribute anything more to society, than more non-recyclable waste.

Vivek Wadhwa, formerly of Seer Technologies and Relativity Technologies, relays his experiences of PR both with, and without a proactive strategy.

At his first company Seer, the team invested heavily in marketing, but was afraid of the media, extremely protective of their messaging and hesitant when it came to pushing their news. Result = no one had heard of them, despite incredible achievements that blew the big players like Microsoft under the water.

A few years later at Relativity, Vivek took a completely different approach, commenting on things the media were interested in, and responding quickly with honest, headline grabbing answers. The company’s products might not have been the sort of thing to stop press, but they provided a window into their world, and spun the fact that they had a team of Russian ex-military and intelligence programmers into a story about them being a James Bond-esque organisation.

Result = featured on all the major TV networks and achieved more than 1000 articles in major publications, including front page of The Wall Street Journal, and named one of the top 25 “coolest” companies in the world by Fortune magazine.

Here are Vivek’s tips for running a PR campaign, and they are very much in line with the way we work here at Mutant Communications, in building relationships, links and thought leadership across multiple media and audiences.

  • Read dozens of business publications. Understand what topics are newsworthy and which journalist writes about what topic, then offer them your insights.
  • Focus on the needs of the journalist and not yours. No one is interested in your product. If a journalist asks you a question, answer that, and don’t obsess with getting your product covered. Build a relationship over time, and it will likely pay off with your getting the coverage that you are looking for.
  • If you do have something to announce, put it in the context of a “news hook”.  Make your message timely and relevant to what is happening in the industry or the world.
  • Don’t ignore small or regional publications. You may want to be in The Wall Street Journal, but it is not likely to cover you until you have built great credibility. Your best starting point is small, industry-oriented or regional publications. They are a lot easier to approach and will likely be interested in breaking your story.
  • Be available—even when you are busy. Journalists on tight deadlines need sources to quote as fast as they can get them.  The first to respond usually get featured.
  • Be honest. You will find that journalists have excellent “bullshit detectors”. If you mislead them even once, not only will they never write about you in a positive way; they’re likely to tell their associates about their experience.  I confide in journalists all the time.  I have not had even one journalist report on something that I said was off the record or was on background.
  • Be yourself, and express strong opinions. If you’re going to hedge your bets or be diplomatic, your message will drown in caveats.
  • When all else fails, write your own story yourself. The blogosphere has democratized journalism over the past few years, and there are hundreds of blog sites where you can post your opinions. You can even set up your own.

Thanks Vivek, for beautifully summarising the slides I present my potential clients.

Why hire people to do your PR? Because more than anything, they are clever storytellers who know how to get the media and target audiences excited about you. Then, they help you craft your messages to best generate buzz, and ultimately boost your business.

To learn more about how a PR campaign can benefit you, and how to use blogging to your advantage, contact Mutant Communications. Joseph Barratt: [email protected]

Newspaper. image by James Yu is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

10 easy steps to organising a stellar fashion event

Events are an important part of a fashion brand’s PR campaign. They can also be a fashion brand’s worst nightmare, but here are 10 easy steps to a successful shindig.

I’m definitely not going to give you my two cents on the latest fashion, but I do have an idea of how you can make your fashion brand or concept fabulously famous through a memorable, successful event.

Events can be scary, but they can also be very effective marketing tools.

All you need to remember is this very simple acronym.


(Purpose, Audience, Channels, Budget, Strategy, Measurement, Management, Equipment, Details, Follow-up).

Let’s start with purpose. There must be a reason you are promoting your brand or event. Do you have a new line? Do you have an interesting guest? Are you celebrating Valentine’s Day? Pick a purpose that will run through all the elements of your event.

Audience. Who do you want to attend your event, and who do you want to hear about it? Fashion bloggers? Cashed-up mums? Investors? Identify the groups who absolutely want to hit, as well as those it would be nice to hit.

Channels. There are so many to choose from now – be it the multitude of social media platforms, broadcast radio or TV, flier drops in shopping areas, blogs, newspapers, magazines, ads on taxis and buses. When you know WHO you are talking to (audience), it’s easier to firm up which channel is best for reaching them.

Budget and timeline. Bor-ing, you say. But this will make or break your event. These days, brands are looking for creative ways to do more with less, but things you may still need to pay for include venue, talent, F&B and marketing materials. Keep costs down by using your already-established relationships, by building partnerships with other complementary brands that reflect the same purpose and audience, and try to be clever about aligning your event with something your audience is already excited about (increasing their likelihood of attendance and support).

Strategise. Now that you have your budget and timeline, you need to make all the pieces of the puzzle fit together. How are you going to hit your audience via those channels you had established? How are you going to communicate your purpose? How much time do you have till the event takes place and what do you need to accomplish each week leading up to it?

Measurement. Before you start executing your bulletproof strategy, set yourself some targets. What will determine the success of your event? Media mentions? Attendance numbers? Sales? Make sure you place adequate weighting and direct budget towards the channels that will ensure you hit those targets.

Management. You’re nearly there, but before you press play, think about what you can do to make sure the people you are communicating with get the right message. Look at the materials you are giving press, and make sure there are no burning questions left unanswered. Brief your spokespeople on what they should and shouldn’t say to any press and make sure you prepare for the worst-case scenario.

Equipment. Technically this is the event management team’s role, but really, if the music is too loud, or there aren’t enough microphones, or your slideshow won’t play, or the lighting makes all the guests look a bit unwell in photos, there’s no point in having an event. Make sure you personally check all these components before the event.

Details. Again, you might think this is the event coordinator’s role, but what are the location, food, invitations, music and collateral going to say about the brand?

A lack of food, an awkward location, deafening music and tacky collateral can be all it takes to deter the media from what could otherwise be an amazing story.

Follow-up. So the event’s over – now don’t let all that hard work go to waste.

How are you going to track the success of the event, thank guests and media for their support, and give them something to hang on to, to ensure they continue to be interested in what you are doing? How can you make best use of the database you have built? A follow-up email with links to photos and regular (but not spammy) updates to let the guests know when you have special offers, or just that you are around, ensures you continue to build on the success of the event.

So, there you have it. A killer event, as easy as it is to say PACBSMMEDF.

Have a chat with us about organising a media event and getting the word out to ensure a successful shindig. Reach Joseph at [email protected]

Stop looking! Fashion Runway 2011 image by Henry Jose is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

How to make your band famous

So you’ve been jamming with your best buds for a while now and you think it’s time people hear the awesome-ness that has been brewing in the studio. What you need (aside from quality music of course) is some PR. Public Relations or PR in short is all about bridging the gap between a consumer(listeners) and producer(YOU).

Here’s how upcoming Singapore bands can benefit from simple do-it-yourself PR tactics that can amplify the rock star in you.

Market research

Before you swim, you would want to know how warm the water is. This is where you study the environment where you’ll be setting foot in. Go to gigs and get to know who plays for which band, which promoter got them there, find out who the kind of people that go to these gigs are, and have a chat with them.

“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”

Even Rambo did some planning before he single-handedly stormed an army base, trust me. Arguably the most important part for a band, is to get your demos done PROFESSIONALLY. The emphasis on ‘professionally’ is referring to everything that comes with the definition of the word. Source out good producers whose recordings will reflect how amazing you guys truly are. Think about it, as a generic listener, how forgiving will you be towards demos filled with unclear vocals, accompanied by un-tuned strings and drums that may as well be using the rear ends of a rubbish bin.

Secondly, bands often overlook the importance of branding. This refers to how the band portray themselves online and this includes photos, your logo, stickers or anything that requires design work. Here’s a life hack, look for a friend who’s a student of graphic design and chances are, they’ll do it for a free meal because they could do with it in their portfolio anyway. Looking professional will only help others take your music more seriously.

“Bands tend to be more focused on the creative process of making music and often neglect the marketing/PR aspect of it,” Snakeweed studio’s bossman himself, Leonard Soosay told me. With that being said, by no means should you undermine the importance of creating the best music you can, it simply means that after finishing up on a mind blowing song, you are not done. It’s time to think of creative and effective ways for that song to be distributed.

It’s showtime

After countless hours in the studio with your producer, that tireless walk to look for the perfect spot for a new Facebook banner photo and all that chit-chat with promoters and musicians, it’s time to finally share the hard work. This is when your new songs are released and you engage with listeners. Platforms such as Bandcamp ,Soundcloud and Facebook are perfect mediums to engage other musicians and potential fans.

However, according to Roland Lim, producer, mix engineer and owner of Sync Studios ,“depending on online platforms alone can only do so much, you need to meet people, give out a sticker, flier or even your demo amongst other physical promotional tools. Everyone has a Facebook page and gets tonnes of invites to like a page every day so let’s not just do what everyone does and take it up to the next level.” Patience is not running high when people are checking their inbox and they have even less tolerance for notifications from unfamiliar sources.

Done all that? It’s still not quite time to kick back, relax and wait for the organisers of Glastonbury to give you a call begging you to headline their festival. This is the point when the band has to be more proactive than ever in spreading the word. Prepare a press-kit which contains a high-res photo, your logo, the song you have released and most importantly a little write-up about your band and start sending it out to all stakeholders. Stakeholders refers to anyone that can be of help to your band such as the promoters you’ve been talking to, music journalists and any other individuals you feel are influential in the industry.

After action review

If you have done it right, you should have a played a few shows by now and have a reasonable following on social media. With that, it’s good practice to have an after action review. Talk to as many people as possible who have heard your music, study your social media’s traffic and gather as many feedbacks as you can.

After that, sit down with your bandmates and discuss what you believe was done right and what should be improved upon. This doesn’t mean you should switch from playing indie to black metal overnight just because some of the people you spoke to liked it when you guys had that one short heavy guitar riff. It simply serves as a general guideline to how accepted your music is in the environment you’ve been playing in.


it's 11:11

Playing in a band and having your music heard is not as simple as pressing record on a recording software and putting it up online. As Leonard Soosay says, “local bands with good PR and marketing strategies are the ones flying overseas to play shows and are conquering local airwaves”. No matter what your cause, getting your voice heard requires creative tactics and most importantly, hard work. Only when that’s done, should you let your natural talent speak for itself.

Pitching Etiquette – how to approach media

Ah, Public Relations.

It has its perks. Scoring a cool client, brainstorming equally cool  and creative ideas for pitching and marketing angles, meeting colourful personalities (some of them becoming friends), the satisfaction of successful event launches, and ultimately, seeing everything you’ve worked towards slowly forming into tangible results.

But there is a dark side, one that many journalists will attest to – the act of pitching a story for coverage. The frustration is understandable. The incessant hounding, incoherently written press releases, and overfamiliarity, can be off-putting, especially if you’re on a tight deadline.

Let us understand a typical day of a journalist’s job – having to sieve through mountains of emails and pitches for a headline-grabbing story, research, fact checking, interviewing multiple sources, transcribing those interviews, and having to complete at least five to six stories at the end of the week (or day, in some cases).

How do they find their stories if not through contacts, and long, in-depth investigations and breaking news events? Often, it’s because a PR person passed it to them, helped them find the right people to talk to, and ensured they had the right images and interesting angles. Despite what we might say about one another, journalists do use press releases for content, the relationship between media and PR is symbiotic – we need each other to survive in the industry.

I was once the eager beaver obsessed about clinching the cover story. I would follow up (pester) aggressively, and had no qualms about being pushy; not realising that I may come across as insincere and unabashed.

So how do we pitch with grace? There is an art to the delicate craft, which is all about the finer details – picking the right words, and getting the across the right message in the press release, actually knowing your client or brand to be able to convince editors why they’re worth writing about, and giving alternative angles.

According to Social Media Today, and my fellow Mutants, there are a few points to bear in mind for an effective email pitch.

Know your brand, and the journalist or publication you’re pitching to:
Mutant Directors, Joe and Jacqui, used to be journalists from The New Zealand Herald, who affirm that there is nothing more annoying then an “irrelevant” pitch, “Don’t pitch a fashion story to a Food Editor or Foreign Correspondent. Save yourself a bit of time and do a little research to make sure that you are speaking to the right person.”

Keep it Short and Simple:
“Brevity is the soul of wit” – Keep to the point and get your message across clearly with minimum words.

Bullet points:
It can’t get any clearer than succinct, concise, and factual bullet points – a journalist’s dream.

Nabeel, Mutant’s Communications Assistant, says that adopting a friendly tone when speaking with journalists on the phone helps, “Also be clear and stick to key points when explaining the reason of your call.”

This is where ‘relationship building’ comes to play – make it a little special and address them by their names. Writers know when it’s a generic cookie- cutter blast. Make an effort to know them, and make small talk about an article they wrote on this week’s paper.

Jacqui says that it helps if you sincerely get along with the writers. Meet them up for coffee or lunch, “I feel more compelled to read an email from someone whom I’m already familiar with. Don’t bribe, or be too needy – be natural, as you would with a friend.”

According to Hunter PR blog, they loathe the question, “So have you read my email?”, so try an alternative approach when following up – offer new and interesting angles, or try and tempt them with……

Giveaways and Freebies!:
You don’t have to force things down their throat for coverage, there is a more passive and effective way for them to relate with your product or client, and offer their readers a reward. Have them review it; send them samples, run competitions and giveaways for their readers.

Following Up:
Daniel, Mutant’s Content Manager, thinks that following up in a timely and tactful manner will do wonders, “Give it a few days before calling to follow up. Be confident and prepared for whatever questions that may be thrown at you.”

Pace your flow of information:
Going back to the first point, keep your message short and simple – don’t reveal too much and try to whet their appetite. Once they bite the bait, furnish them with more details.

Journalists everywhere will start thanking you for this. (You’re welcome!)

Need help with pitching? Drop a message to [email protected]