A type of publicist, the tour publicist specializes in promoting interest in and drawing attention to an act's live shows. Like a more traditional album-oriented publicist, the tour publicist typically kicks off a promotional campaign by crafting a media release and reaching out to local and national music journalists to secure an advance story or review.
From there, however, the job branches off. Tour publicists reach out to radio and television stations in each city the tour is passing through to set up interviews and schedule appearances, creating local buzz. For larger acts, tour publicists may also contact fan clubs and record stores to arrange meet-and-greets, autograph sessions, and in-store performances.
Unlike album publicists, tour publicists travel with the acts they represent so they can run interference at personal appearances, communicate with the media on the band's behalf, and make sure promotional events run smoothly and stay on schedule. On show nights, the tour publicist is ensconced at the venue, greeting invited journalists, bloggers, and photographers, and handing out media credentials and backstage passes.
Tour publicists are unlikely to work with smaller acts, as their duties are usually handled by a single all-purpose publicist. If by some chance a tour publicist does represent a small act, he or she probably won't travel with the band. Instead, the publicist will focus on advance work, such as pitching coverage; arranging ticket giveaways on college radio; and spreading the word about shows on social media.
Tour Publicist at a Glance
Any publicist who works for a record label, public relations firm, or entertainment company might be assigned to travel with an act as a tour publicist. But while most return afterward to the typical publicist career path—advancing to become first a senior publicist and then a publicity director—some find that they love life on the road, and excel in this fast-paced and unpredictable environment. Specialized tour publicists with proven track records tend to work with the biggest artists in the business on high-budget tours that bring them all over the world.
Internships are the way to go when trying to break into the world of publicity, and many public relations companies offer development programs for students and recent graduates. Aspiring publicists can also promote friends' shows to gain publicity experience, or they can contribute to a music blog to hone writing skills.
- Media relations
- Written and verbal communication
- Writing press releases
- Social media management
- Public speaking
- Experience with touring
Flexibility and problem-solving skills are key for tour publicists, who work in a fast-paced and unpredictable environment. When a radio appearance is double-booked or a key journalist doesn't show, tour publicists must make quick changes to ensure the band doesn't lose momentum for the night's show.
The ability to get along with many kinds of people is a must, as is the capacity to remain calm under pressure and when things don't go as planned. Finally, exceptional organizational, time-management, and multitasking skills are vital in order to stay on top of the job while also dealing with a rigorous travel schedule.
While musicians have their fair share of downtime on tour, there's rarely a dull moment for the tour publicist. In the weeks and months leading up to a tour, publicists work the phones and email like crazy, setting up as much media coverage and as many promotional opportunities ahead of time as possible. They continue to do so while on the road, conducting business in the corner of a noisy club, on a crowded tour bus, or in a motel. Specialized tour publicists catch their breath when the touring period is over, regrouping and recovering at home for a period before setting out again.