Having worked with artists like Boy Better Know, Fekky, Toddla T and Jammer, Ten Letter PR are considered to be on the frontline of what’s hot in the world of radio, online and TV. Representing independent clients, Ten Letter have been forging a place in the world of PR for a good three years now.
Pitching stories, features and campaigns to journalists is an uphill battle. That’s why List For Life, dealing with PRs regularly, had to know the secrets behind a great PR company.
We spoke to Cat (Director), Nina (Radio PR) and Shireen (Online & Press) from Ten Letter PR about where they started, the future of PR and their dream clients.
1. How did your career path lead to media PR?
Cat: I began working in the music industry by answering the phones and doing general admin work at the music channel, Channel U. I worked my way up to manage the channel and ran it for almost 8 years. It was an amazing experience and I learnt so much and met so many people in that time.
In the early days of the UK urban scene, things were small, raw and very independent. Artists did everything themselves, including delivering their own videos to me. As the channel grew, the director of the company set up an independent record label, 360 Records. Having the experience of running campaigns and dealing with pluggers gave me a fresh insight in to the way PR worked and an overall knowledge of what to do with music once it had been created and left the studio. It made me realise there needed to be a stronger bridge between the underground and the mainstream.
By following and supporting artist’s careers from the early stages to the mainstream was fascinating. Seeing Tinie Tempah, Tinchy, N Dubz, Chip, Skepta all grow, gave me a real buzz and helped give me the knowledge of how you take an artist or a campaign from the grassroots to the mainstream and put more of a spotlight.
Towards the end of 2012 Channel U, or AKA as it was then known, was sold to AATW. It was this change that then made me really look at my pathway and how I would move forward. I realised the thing I loved most about my job was playing a part in an artist’s journey and being able to support them and shine a light on what they do. I applied this to my own company and all I knew is that I wanted people to give me their music and come hell or high water, I’d make people take notice of it: Ten Letter was born!
2. What advice would you give for any young people thinking about getting into the media PR industry?
Shireen: I’d get an internship first because until you do the job you will have no idea what it takes, it can be very tough sometimes and if you don’t have the passion for it, it will be even harder. Understanding of the job comes with experience too, so doing an internship will help you with this also. Being out and about and building connections with people I found has helped me always. Don’t ever think PR is 9-5, even when you’re out at a gig for example you always have the hustle in the back of your mind of networking. Thick skin too, never take things personally.
3. As an independent agency, what exactly do you look for in clients you want to campaign for? What is the criteria?
Cat: Passion, enthusiasm and great music. If you get that formula it makes for an amazing campaign for everyone involved. Great communication is also hugely important as it can help drive the momentum and the excitement through the team. The most important thing for us, and something that we always stand by, is that if we’re taking on a campaign , whoever will be working the music HAS to like the music. We send all enquiries to the full team and get feedback from everyone, if we’re all excited then we’ll do it, if not, then we won’t. You have to be true to yourself and I think it is essential that you share the vision and the passion of the artist and the rest of the team involved.
4. As technology develops and the media culture changes, where do you think the PR industry will be in 10-15 years from now?
Nina: I think as technology develops, both the PR and music industry will continue to develop and change along with it. Everything is so instant now and because of the use of the internet, artists have more control of their music and when they want to put it out. I think as long as you are willing to move with the times, technology will make a positive impact on the PR industry.
5. What are main differences between Radio, TV and Online PR in terms of daily tasks and who you have to deal with?
Cat: We all have our own roles and speak to different people daily. Each area also looks for different things. The majority of campaigns now start with online activity and are majorly online driven, TV & Radio both look to online for key markers of how well a campaign is doing.
Online is instant, the first few weeks is the most important for an online campaign, you have to strike while the iron is hot! A lot of online PR is all about digital links and in terms of sending content is quite quick and simple.
Radio is totally different, it’s a much slower process and takes time to build and a lot of going back and forth to update and nudge DJ’s or stations for support. It is also about ensuring files are easy to access.
TV is different again, dealing with large files, OFCOM guidelines and using all of the success from other areas to coverage. TV is probably the smallest area now but that also makes it one of the hardest to secure coverage in.
6. Who would be the dream client in any industry for Ten Letter to represent?
Cat: I love the way Skepta and JME work, they have that sick attitude where quite frankly they don’t give a f**k! I love that. Krept & Konan were amazing to work with too on the Young Kingz mixtape. They were so hands on and so exciting, I loved their ethos and the whole campaign
Nina: I love working with exciting UK artists and I think one of the most exciting acts out right now is Stormzy, so I would love to work with him. He has a massive following and he is breaking all the conventional rules of the music industry, like charting with a freestyle and hitting crazy views online with his videos. He has proved that you can stay true to your genre and not be with a major label to succeed.
Shireen: For me it would be Novelist, like Skepta he has that don’t give a f**k attitude and has a very DIY, hands on approach to his music. I’d also like to LOVE to work with Giggs and Section Boyz.
7. What’s the most rewarding part of your job and, inversely, what are the greatest challenges you face?
Shireen: We all work so incredibly hard on EVERY campaign we have, so the rewarding parts for me for online and press is securing features, premieres and getting support from platforms all around the world with each audio track, video, mixtape or EP I send out. Client appreciation is so rewarding too, when you read an email thanking you for your work, it can make your day honestly!
I think the greatest challenges are getting people to take notice, you have to find different ways and be creative and it can be hard. Journalists get hundreds of emails a day, you have to think what will make them take notice of yours?