Claire Thompson, Thames-valley based freelance PR Consultant, Waves PR
With the dust settled on the final thupr event, I thought it appropriate to create a final blogpost, rounding up the good stuff that happened. In due course, I’ll share some of the learnings from thupr, but in the meantime, here’s some of the material that the last event generated:
Claire Thompson: The final thupr (A preview to the event)
Emily Breder: On engagement (Participant)
Halima Amin: The Final Countdown (An event roundup)
Claire Thompson: Music, Money and PR Prats (And event round up)
Gareth Cousins: How to brief musicians A guide for PR folk
Today I plan to throw open thupr to the community of people who have shown an interest in at some point. Our plans for ramping it up really weren’t sustainable, and whilst charging was an option, I personally don’t think that’s the right thing to do in this day and age. The old maxim ‘you get what you pay for’ has never been less true!
Thupr was always a horrible name, but one we got stuck with. So I’m changing the name of the group to Deeper – a mix of digital + engagement + PR – and throw it open for anyone who has conversations they want to start to go ahead and do so. I’ll offer what support I can, but the settings on the meetup have changed. We have a group of over 400 people with diverse interests and skills to share. If anyone has thoughts on rules, they should share them.
Over the next week or so, they will all be made co-organisers. I’m leaving myself as an organiser only to be able to remove spammers. It really is ‘over to you’…..
Halima at thupr: music
Post by Waves PR intern, music blogger Halima Amina
Friday was the last meet up for THUPR, but it was indeed indexical of the whole THUPR vibe and journey. From big meet ups and company involvement, to small scale conversations. It’s with great sadness but with a brilliant ending that we say goodbye to THUPR.
The final meet up was under the theme of music, with contribution from Steve Lawson, Emily Breder, Claire Thompson herself and all attendees. THUPR has always been about bringing the conversations that count-and that’s exactly what we did.
Ideas bought up included the idea of branding. Is branding now merely a crass tool used to stamp something on the head and sell it on? Perhaps branding doesn’t cater for the multi faceted and terrifyingly impersonal nature of modern media, but the question then is-what’s the quick, strong alternative?
One cannot speak about music at a PR event without piracy taking a stake in the air time. Steve, as an independent musician himself, explained the concept of “gratitude” being the highest currency available online. Making his work available for free download, he welcomes (and receives) optional payment should the listener have enjoyed it. So the power goes right back to the consumer. A risky tactic maybe, but it is clear a radical change of the digital music market is needed.
I raised the point, from a consumer point of view, audiences are much less likely to feel the obligation and need to pay for an album when little or no engagement with audiences is being made; bragging about money in every song will probably not strike a chord with students the next time they’re in HMV. It stands to reason then that this concept goes right back to branding-an impersonal brand is less likely to earn money than an approachable personality.
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We were unable to hook up (technical hitch) with Emily Breder at the last thupr. This is what she had to say….
I’m from the East Coast, but I work in the Silicon Valley of the MidWest now – Columbus, Ohio. We have a ton of developers for web and mobile here because people flock here from all over the world to go to the Ohio State University. It’s actually a much more diverse place than Washington DC, which is about a half hour from where I grew up.
Because of the diversity of culture and interests here, a lot of amazing innovations have come out of this area, in the last five years especially, and among them is the app I work with, eEvent.com. I was brought on board to help them streamline their message and communications early last year, and over that period of time I had noticed some patterns within the new developments of communication, via social media and email and the rest.
There are the spammers – people who try to generate engagement posting static messages, or direct messages to people who didn’t ask for them. This is for social media or email mostly, but it’s the same behavior we saw in previous years from people who are what I call “serial networkers” – shake as many hands as possible, hand as many business cards out as possible, and hope something sticks. Some are better at this than others, but the end result is the same: shallow connections, and what relationships are built are tenuous at best. Even with people who are successful at this, they tend to be very protective of their connections and resources, which is not sustainable in the new social age. They have to continually re-invent themselves, which is exhausting and draining work.
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The final thupr was fascinating insight into the music industry as well as having more general lessons for others in PR. It’s an industry of extremes that holds a light up to so many of the things that are wrong with the way the entire PR industry has played out. With musicians, social media practitioners, digital experts, students, PR folk and bloggers in the same room, the conversation was insightful and interesting.
So many PR people have no concept of business – with the result, in the music industry, that even apparently successful musicians in the public eye end up losing vast sums of money. The whole spin cycle creates an illusion of sex and drugs and rock and roll, a glamour that can’t be lived up to, pressure that’s taken many talented musicians to an early and unhappy grave.
You can add to that the laziness of the average music agent. Whilst I understand that the average celebrity’s PR team may not want to be constantly bombarded with requests to open a village fete (if any of these still exist) it’s nigh on impossible to find out who represents who and get past the ferocious receptionists to offer cash to musicians to be part of a campaign. Have they never heard of the Internet? A quick form fill would quickly sort the wheat from the chaff. The signs are there that music PR – like many other PR sectors – is simply not getting the new world order.
Music blogger Halima Amin expressed her disdain of those lazy PRs who fail to engage with bloggers – or who prioritise the big titles over the niche blogging communities. Yet in terms of engagement, these niches are far more likely to bring profit to the musician than, say, a piece in the Telegraph.
On reflection, perhaps this is more about the way we (PR) measure the numbers of success? I’d stake good money on this being something to do with ‘opportunities to see’ or AVEs (Ad Equivalent Values)? Yet time and again we see clear economic proof that good engagement brings financial benefits.
Alex Thomson of the Greenhouse Group personified some of that ‘I’m a music PR’ arrogance by failing to even show up – or to send an apology - even though he’d promised Halima he’d be there .
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