I had the pleasure of interviewing Jamie Roberts. Jamie has a wealth of experience as a music PR executive having led departments at Roadrunner Records, Universal Records, 10th Street Entertainment, Eleven Seven Music and EMI’s The Enclave, collaborated on the launch of Right Angle PR in 2016 and left to start FOR THE WIN Media in May of 2018.
She has 25+ years of experience working with top-tier artists from multiple genres such as Motley Crue, Blondie, Papa Roach, Godsmack, Nick Lachey and Paulina Rubio, among many others. She has been an integral part of building the careers of artists like Slipknot and Nickelback as well as reaching new plateaus of success for breakout stars like The Dillinger Escape Plan, Sloan and Nothing More.
Thank you so much for your time. I know that you are a very busy person. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I have always loved music, but have had zero musical talent. I wanted to be part of the team that made talented artists (ones people may not even have heard of otherwise) into household names. The most direct way to do that, in my estimation, was through PR. I have known I wanted to do this since I was 13, so I was able to gear my education and experiences to things that would benefit my line of work.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began at your company?
I started FOR THE WIN Media in May 2018 so we haven’t had much chance to do anything crazy yet. I will say that the most recent interesting thing I did was take a band I adore, NOTHING MORE, to the Grammys and worked the red carpet with them. They were nominated for 3 awards and did not win this time around, but we did a TON of interviews and they got the attention they deserved. They are going to have a long, successful career, so I am sure they will win next time! I did the winners press at the Grammys in 2006 with SLIPKNOT (another band I worked for many years). That was a thrill.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I wish I had a good story for this. My mistakes were pretty mundane. I did learn to be optimally organized / prepared and not to speak ill of anyone to anyone else (you never know who is friends with the person) from some early mistakes.
How did you scale your business to profitability? How long did it take? Please share the steps you took.
I am actually in the process of doing so. I have done many favors for many people and have not charged as much as I should/could have for years. I am hoping that loyalty / favor comes back to me — it usually does for other things. Hoping Karma is consistent.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
PeerTracks.com has me super excited, as I am really into technology… especially technology that is making fair amounts of money for musicians. PeerTracks is a blockchain-based music streaming service that gets content creators paid well (a floor of 1.5 cents per stream — way above all others) and quickly — with a 24-hour turnaround. The transparency allows you to see what was streamed, when it was streamed and that is compliant with the Music Modernization Act.
Tommy Lee is making a record in the EDM genre that is AMAZING! I heard some tracks recently and can’t wait until his fans get to hear it!
I am also super excited about being in the comics/collectibles world with Big Apple Comic Con happening in March 2019. I am a big fan of all things geek.
Based on your personal experience, what advice would you give to young people considering a career in PR?
The greatest feeling in the world is when you book an A-level TV appearance or big print article for an artist you have nurtured. You feel like a superhero! However, make sure that you are also able to take repeated rejection and not internalize it. Know that the rejection is not about you… there are so many factors that lead to it. Even if that good feeling only comes once in a while, it makes all the rejection worth enduring.
You are known as a master networker. Can you share some tips on great networking?
Always be yourself — you will find your ‘tribe’ within your industry. If you aren’t the kind of person that can command everyone’s attention in a large setting, conquer the room small group by small group.
Also — study body language — it will help you know who you can approach to chat. You will gravitate long-term toward the people who are most like you, communication-style-wise, Ask them who their friends are — they will want to know you too. Never lie or pretend to be something you are not. Not only because most smart people can tell, but also because lies are too hard to bother remembering.
Is there a particular book that you read, or podcast you listened to that really helped you in your career? Can you explain?
I approach PR as the study of people — how to meet their needs and get them to help meet yours. As a result, the books I like are those of technique in recognizing people’s needs and preferences.
The Art of Seduction by Robert Greene is an amazing way to simplify analysis of what people need and how to become that for someone you want to date — or someone you want to write a piece on your client.
What Every Body Is Saying by Joe Navarro is a great body-language primer… reading people is so important in networking situations. Nobody is better at reading people than people that have to catch criminals!
The Art of War by Sun Tzu is the consummate book on strategy. You have to use it as a battle-as-PR analogy to help your work, but it can help so many other parts of your life too.
The Art of Charm podcast is amazing — so many suggestions for how to improve things that will help your career and life!
Because of the role you play, you are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
I am an advocate for the de-stigmatizing of mental illness. There are so many shades of mental illness, some totally benign that can be managed with discipline to ones that are serious, but when treated with medication can be invisible, and lots in between. The people at The Jed Foundation (who I have worked with for many years) educate people early on — in their teens — about mental illness and what you can do to help a friend who is suffering. Education about mental illness alleviates the fear many people have of the mentally ill and it helps people who need it to be ok with getting help.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)
Always wear comfortable clothes/shoes — nobody is looking at you… they are looking at your client. I got all dressed up the first year I worked the Grammys. By the 3rd year I did the carpet i was wearing sneakers… it made so much more sense. All I did all day was run back and forth. Doing that in heels is my idea of hell.
Remember — your clients are not your friends. A lot of people get crushed by this one. You work closely with a band and having a cordial relationship is important, but if you disappeared tomorrow from their lives, they might not care or notice. Some bands are so transient — on tour all the time — that they are used to not getting attached to people. I was ‘friends’ with someone in a band I was working. I quit my job and 3 months later he texts me to ask what press we were doing tomorrow. He had no idea I was gone!
Work/Life Balance is VERY important. When I was building my career I worked and traveled a LOT. I never really thought about whether I wanted to get married, have a family, etc until it was too late (to have kids, at least). My health was terrible for a long time because I was so busy taking care of other people that I didn’t take care of myself. When I hit 40 I started thinking about this and started developing my personal/family life. If you catch this early, it is so much better for you.
Save everything! You never know when you will need a particular piece of information. Now that we have Google Drive and Dropbox and things of that sort, you can store all the things you need. Make folders in your email and in your google drive and save all your releases, notes, emails, etc.
Assume ignorance before malice. Many times, you will be in a situation where someone seems to be talking down to you or someone is explaining something unnecessarily thoroughly. You can think they are being condescending or that they think you are dumb, but I have learned not to make that assumption from the jump. They can’t know what you know and don’t know if you have just met them. Their experience with other PR people could have been such that they assume all publicists don’t know a particular thing. Before you jump to the conclusion that they are being jerks, assume maybe they just don’t understand you / your process. It prevents so many arguments.
Originally published at medium.com