We are so excited to launch our ‘The People Behind the Scene’ feature with the talented and very lovely Clare Dickins. We hope you enjoy the read.
What is the role of a PR Director?
Currently I don’t have any employees, so I’m doing everything from liaising with clients regarding strategy and updating them with media reports, to executing all stages of press campaigns, plus all the accounting and admin side of things.
Tell us about your typical day?
A typical day will involve chasing up music I’ve serviced to press and pitching for reviews, radio play and features where applicable.
I’m lucky as I have a desk in the Berlin offices of Mobilee (label and agency), home to two of my clients Anja Schneider and Rodriguez Jr. A few times a week I will liaise with label manager Ralf Kollmann about upcoming releases and associated strategy so we’re all in sync. The bookings department works only a room away, which is very handy for working out logistics for travel so I can coordinate press while my artists are on the road. Elsewhere, I’m in regular contact with my other clients’ (Adam Beyer and Alan Fitzpatrick) managers via skype and email multiple times a week.
Throughout the course of a week, I’ll schedule meetings with other industry colleagues, artists and local media to discuss and plan future projects to work on.
And of course whenever I get a chance to catch up with my artists, I do so. I regularly travel to see them play key gigs, as well as to oversee important media commitments often in London – it’s a hectic but fun experience, but always worth it as you take plenty of inspiration back to the office on Monday.
How did you get your job?
I was working as a journalist back in Australia about 10 years ago, but not earning enough to support myself properly but still keen to stay in music, so when a job in PR popped up, I jumped at the chance and gradually learned the ropes thanks to my first boss and mentor Sam Cameron (who used to run Australian music publicity agency Beat Broker). To cut a very long story short, when I moved overseas in 2010 I found my way back into PR work (after going back to work as an editor for now defunct Zebra Magazine that was published in Melbourne) via some volunteer work with the Strummerville Foundation in London. Their publicist was Kim Booth who runs Rebel Butterfly. She took me on to wrap up a few projects in December 2011. It was only supposed to be a very temporary thing, but it kept rolling for the next three-and-a-half-years till I left in August 2015 to start up independently. Will always be hugely grateful to Kim for the opportunity. Without it, I’d probably be back in Australia doing a ‘normal job’.
What’s the best part of your job?
This is going to sound corny, but just the pure privilege of getting to work with artists I’m a huge fan of. When they send me new music that often hasn’t even been mastered yet and I know it’s coming fresh from their studio, it’s like being a kid at Xmas again. That’s when I feel the luckiest and so so grateful to be doing what I’m doing.
And the worst…?
All the back end admin side of things. It’s not my strength at all. I need an amazing intern or a PA to blitz this side of life for me. I’m working on it!
What has been the highlight of your career to date?
Securing a Mixmag cover for Adam Beyer & Ida Engberg and a DJ Mag cover for Anja Schneider that both dropped in the month of July 2015 was a genuinely exhilarating life moment. The build up to both magazines being published lasted over 12 months from the point of the stories first being pitched to all the work that went into organizing the artists for photo shoots and getting the editorial completed. Once I could hold those magazines in my hand, they felt like trophies for all the hard work and very very long hours I’d put into the job over the past decade or so. It’s also particularly special when the artists get a big buzz out of it and ask for extra copies to show their parents etc.
Any tips for aspiring PR Directors?
I never started out thinking I would go solo and start my own company. It all happened organically; as the years progress, you want to have total autonomy on what clients you work with. Be in the now and love what you do. Don’t waste your time with projects you’re not passionate about. Only work with clients that get you so excited you can’t go to sleep at night and inspire you constantly. That drives me to do what I do.
I work between 8-10 hours a day, sometimes longer, sometimes a little less. I will usually do a few hours on Sunday night to prepare for Monday so I can hit the ground running. One of the reasons I went solo was to work on less clients, give them more energy and ultimately have more time for myself, so since going solo it’s been more manageable.
I did Bachelor of Arts at Melbourne University majoring in Cultural Studies and English. With something as niche as being a publicist for electronic music artists, it’s crucial you have a good mentor when you first start out (big thanks again to Sam Cameron). Secondly a knowledge and diehard passion for music is obviously essential. Being able to write well is a clear bonus too, as you’ll be authoring plenty of press releases. On top of this, organizational and multi-tasking skills are the backbone of working in publicity.
Below clockwise from top left: Clare with clients Anja Schneider and Alan Fitzpatrick, with Adam Beyer and B.Traits at ADE 2015, with the DJ Mag team after Anja’s cover shoot and being bandaged by nurse Rodriguez Jr. at Sonar 2015.