What Does a Publicist Do? According to 10 Real Publicists

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What is the role of a publicist? What do they do on a day to day basis?

Learn about the essential duties of a publicist, as discussed by experts.

Tami Belt

Tami Belt

Owner & CEO, Blue Cube Marketing Solutions

Public Relations is the strategic crafting of your story, your message. Publicity is the result of your story being placed in front of your target audience through social, print and electronic media.

However, Public Relations goes beyond telling your story to engage your public in conversations. It’s about connecting and building relationships.

People often equate PR with sending Press Releases to the media. The truth is, a press release is only one tool in Public Relations Professional’s toolbox.

Public Relations professionals help excavate, craft and share the hidden treasure trove of stories inside an organization that spark conversations, build relationships and help shape Brands.

You see, a company or nonprofit does not own its Brand. A Brand is a perception in someone’s mind. An organization can help shape their Brand by the stories they share. Scott Bedbury said, “A great brand is a story that’s never completely told.”

Stories are content. Content is PR – the strategic crafting of your story, your message. Examples of content Public Relations Professionals craft include articles; bios; blogs; case studies; collateral material; social media posts; scripts for videos; testimonials and web site copy.

In addition to writing stories, Public Relations Professionals can help companies create a Community Engagement Strategy to build relationships and align with a cause.
Business is personal. It’s about relationships. People want to do business with and work for companies that share their values. One of the best ways to build relationships is to connect over the passion for a cause. Companies that are involved in their communities realize:

  • Increased market share
  • Higher employee satisfaction and retention
  • An enhanced image in the community
  • A better place to live, work and do business
  • Receive more press coverage

Finally, some Public Relations professionals also organize special events for clients. This is another way for them to build relationships and engage with the community.

Related: What Are the Different Types of Public Relations Jobs?

Dai Baker

Dai Baker

Lead Publicist & Founder, Dai Baker Creative Group, LLC

A publicist’s job is to communicate the client’s message to the public and to create brand awareness

A common way this is done is through the media (press). A publicist’s job is to take the client’s story and make it newsworthy so that the media will want to cover.

The publicist will make genuine connections with the appropriate media outlets to help get the client’s story to the public. The publicist will act as a go-between for the media outlet and the client. They will also help the client prepare for public appearances and interviews so that the right messages are being communicated.

A publicist can also handle the crisis management efforts for a client in the event of a public scandal. A publicist will work to control the narrative and reshape the public image of the client.

A publicist is not a magician, manager, project manager, assistant, or any other non-related role. A publicist job can entail long hours as the world is now connected to social media which means a situation can occur at any time.

Norah Lawlor

Norah Lawlor

Principal & CEO, Lawlor Media Group Inc.

Public relations is the art of communicating to a target audience the desired message and attributes of the client seeking assistance

At its simplest one might regard the reality of public relations as creating a media alert and then placing it in the public domain via successfully pitching the alert to a member of the media.

The fragmentation of the media marketplace means that a Publicist has to be capable not only of pitching to a journalist, but also to produce the story or media materials containing the attributes and messages to print, online and/or social media as appropriate.

Social media demands fast response and creation of short, to the point messages allied with imagery which conveys an immediate impression supportive of the words projecting the brand or messaging. The ability to create images or video material and/or direct the right professionals to create this collateral in short timeframes is a further critical success factor for a modern PR campaign.

Today’s media is also consolidating, leading to fewer traditional publications and outlets, which in turn makes relationship building with journalists and understanding their publication needs more critical than ever.

Andrea McKinnon

Andrea McKinnon

Public Relations Executive, AMcK PR, Inc.

A publicist’s main goal is to increase client exposure to their target audience

Publicists plant idea seeds and nurture them as they develop, sometimes enjoying great results, sometimes not. Unfortunately, there is never a guarantee for media placement, but a publicist’s job is to use expertise, experience, and relationships to increase the exposure of a brand/product/person in the media and to their target audience.

PR is not to increase sales through advertisements or paid marketing. However, the gap between marketing and public relations overlaps now more than ever – social media, influencers, paid & otherwise, Google ad words, for example, all work together in tandem as interconnected and creative forces.

PR can result in sales when the story is unique and newsworthy, of course. A campaign that’s developed and executed well can be extraordinarily valuable or it can do absolutely nothing for the client’s bottom line if the sales and marketing strategy isn’t in place to capitalize on it.

It is important to have a dedicated publicist to “protect” a brand’s message, regardless of the spokesperson hired to directly engage consumers. Celebrity spokespeople most often have their own publicist(s), but their interest lies strictly with the celebrity. It is important that your liaison works with the spokesperson’s team to ensure brand consistency and intent.

Kaity Roberts Bandura

Kaity Roberts Bandura

Public Relations Consultant

Publicists partner with clients to garner maximum media exposure for their brands

A large part of our job as publicists is to build relationships with key media covering a variety of beats so that we can pitch relevant clients for earned media opportunities that benefit both the client and journalist.

Think of publicists as the facilitators – they immerse themselves into your brand strategy to fully understand the messages (and possible messages) you should be focusing on and then they create opportunities for you using those messages.

Without them, all of the great work that brands are doing can easily go unnoticed and opportunities are left unrealized.

Some ways that publicists accomplish that brand exposure include creating bylines, assisting with social media messaging, identifying speaking opportunities, crafting press releases, securing press to attend brand events and activations, organizing media mailers, securing media interviews and advising on talking points for said interviews. It all depends on which specific goals the brand wants to accomplish.

Frank Tortorici

Frank Tortorici

Senior Strategist, Marketing Maven

A publicist works in the best interest of his/her clients and conveys the truth of their wares often and accurately

A publicist’s job is to distill the best inherent in his/her clients’ product or service into a few solid sound bites and effectively weave these essentials into the news of the day to bring immediate attention to the virtues of the client and why one needs to procure its product or services.

A publicist must be a fast learner to keep on top of the clients’ industries as well as the comings and goings at media companies and the ins and outs of what’s currently hot in the news. A publicist must also be an advocate for clients and ensure that the pros of their products or services are often touted well and completely and that any cons be kept out of the spotlight.

Megan Bennett

Megan Bennett

President & CEO, Light Years Ahead

Publicists are the direct connection between a brand/personality/service and the media

Our job is to create compelling pitches and get them into the hands of the top movers and shakers in the top digital, print and broadcast media and then do extensive follow up to ensure the brand is included in editorial coverage.

Basically, I am a certified stalker! I literally email the media daily to make sure there’s an ongoing stream of media placements.

Ilana Youngheim

Ilana Youngheim

Chief Media Strategist, Branded Media

I say that publicists are an extension of you or your brand

As a publicist, I get asked this all the time. We help cultivate positive relationships through various unpaid media. There’s an old saying: “Advertising is what you pay for; publicity is what you pray for.” We are storytellers.

These unpaid or earned placements are an effective opportunity to reach the general public. Keep in mind publicists are trying to reach everyone, not just a paying customer. That’s where people get caught up at times. They only want to speak to their client base but it’s all about building credibility.

Jennifer Mancini

Jennifer Mancini

Publicist, Super Connector Media

Publicists are care-takers. Some of the highest tier clients with multi-million dollar businesses, whom you would think have an exorbitant amount of confidence, still need a cheer squad.

A publicist is a bridge between clients and the public

I tailor my work methods strategically to the personality of each client so I know how to show up for them in the best way possible. Behind PR is an entire game of persuasion.

It is important to me to work only with clients who I believe in, who are ethical and have an admirable business that has an impact I want to help spread awareness around.

The most successful people are those who do work they believe in. I believe in my clients 100%. That is not something all publicists can say.

A great publicist is one who learns not only their client’s industry but their unique authentic vision as thoroughly as possible

One who does 90 minute phone calls that aren’t just centered around business per usual, but incorporate time for the client to update on their personal life i.e. how a divorce is affecting them, how they are lonely now that their children are back in school, how they are struggling to stop comparing themselves to other leaders in their industry.

One client has even needed a lot of coaching around a recent near-death experience! It is my job to bring them back to the center ; To remind them of how capable they are despite their insecurities.

Imposter syndrome is something we see a lot as publicists. The excitement of us landing them a huge broadcast segment, a live interview, or contribution in print media can often be short-lived when they realize they have to actually show up and put themselves out there.

I go with my clients to all of their NYC based broadcast segments. I make sure they have coffee and water, that their purse is somewhere safe, that they spit their gum out, smile, look directly at the person interviewing them. I give them styling tips and review outfit options beforehand. But most importantly, I hold their hand. I remind them that no matter what, there is no such thing as failure, and everything is a learning experience.

I had a client who I landed a live broadcast segment for (her first one ever!) and she was shaking like a leaf. I met her and her daughter beforehand. I let her tear up for a minute and then I calmed her down. I revved her up and reminded her that there is nothing she doesn’t know and that she is going to crush it! I pumped her up, got her game face on and did all her negotiating with the network, making sure her personal brand and book were going to promote in the segment.

I was there to tell her first thing after the interview how amazing she was, how proud I was of her, and how this was such a huge deal. The smile that spread across her face filled my heart in a way I can’t even tell you. That is what real PR is about. It is known as a cut-throat industry, and it is. But it can be an amazing experience for clients when they are nurtured and kept in a positive mindset.

On a daily basis, I do tasks ranging from client calls, tracking client coverage, reporting to them how many unique viewers saw their segment, source opportunities from every angle to get them in as a thought leader.

I respond to HARO’s queries, call local and national broadcast, build pitches, strategize, create content, leverage prior coverage, scan media, coordinate events, media train, and submit pitches!

A really cool aspect of being a publicist with a healthy mindset is I know I have the power to influence the media.

I have the power to suggest overlooked, yet extremely important issues that the public should be made aware of. I can provide resources to media who have solutions to problems the world is facing.

So, that is what a real publicist does. It is the ultimate win!

Michael Stover

Michael Stover

Award-winning Songwriter | Musician | Producer | President, MTS Management Group

As a music publicist, I am responsible for distributing press releases regarding my artists’ latest releases, events, and happenings

I follow up on these press releases, to schedule interviews, reviews, articles, appearances, radio airplay, social media posts and more. I am responsible for maintaining my clients’ schedules, sending reminders for upcoming interviews on a daily and weekly basis.

I am also in charge of submitting artists for award consideration (Grammys, CMAs, Josies, etc.) I also act as a liaison between
my clients and the press, or any other business contact.

I look for any and all opportunities to expose a potential fanbase to my artists’ music. I secure the Spotify playlist placements. I promote youtube videos for them. I also submit them for licensing opportunities for film, tv, games, etc.