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3 Ways to Create an Unconventional Music PR Campaign

By: Bianca Gawencki

As social media has started driving musicians’ creative processes and their art’s randomized popularity, it’s getting more difficult for musicians to consistently stick out and break through the noise. While social media promotion is becoming the most popular tactic –– no doubt due to its insane reach –– the effect of truly original promotional tactics is getting lost to the power of the TikTok algorithm.

We can seamlessly access an abundance of art and creativity, but at what cost? If we continue to let most viral artistry fizzle out in weeks or months, where’s the impact? We have to get creative to successfully promote longevity and fan loyalty for these artists, so I’m highlighting just a couple of methods to start with:

1. Put Some Extra Thought Into the Release Announcement

Again, now’s the time to truly find a way to stand out against the constant wave of new artists and releases. Unless you're Beyoncé, who can drop an incredibly successful album like “Lemonade” with no announcement or warning, it’s your moment to get weird and bewildering. A simple press release or social media post alone won’t cut it anymore.

Harry Styles and Lewis Capaldi had two entirely different, but successful usages of unique billboard promotions. Styles’ approach for “Fine Line” was more serious and elusive, where billboards and signage were posted globally with no attribution to the singer, just one song lyric. Fans connected the dots themselves with the tiniest of clues. Capaldi’s approach was a bit more… outlandish and self-deprecatingly funny. Billboards appeared with Capaldi in his underwear, and lyrics from the new single “Forget Me” alongside him –– playing on the track title and “shameless self-promotion” as he said in a subsequent post.

2. Make Unique, Specialized Merchandise

One of the most significant things an audience can have is a legitimate, physical memento. Not only does merchandise create something special and valuable for a fanbase, but it can increase press coverage and talk about the artist.

“Out-of-the-box” merchandise can include things like personalized home goods, tote bags, pins, setlists, etc. –– basically any funky object aside from the usual t-shirt, sweatshirt, or hoodie. An unforgettable merch launch I remember is Daft Punk’s from 2013. The electronic duo teamed up with a condom company to create their own launch promoting their song “Get Lucky.” It’s offbeat, it’s eccentric, it’s unexpected, and it’s memorable.

3. Up the Ante On Your Visuals

Most know how crucial visuals can be for the audience’s experience with music and artistry. Music videos and album artwork are commonly thought through, but what about using different visual methods? Think about how you can make these common items more striking and appealing.

What first comes to mind is The 1975’s work on their album “Notes on a Conditional Form,” released in 2020. While having “traditional” music videos for the album’s singles, the alternative indie group also created “visualizers” for each cut on the album. These visualizers are mostly CGI-produced animations and graphics that are both intriguing and puzzling. These provide the audience with a visual aid to be enjoyed for each and every song, while also allowing the group extended creative expression for their art.

Aside from promotion, honestly, being interactive and showing you value the audience’s opinion can be the most powerful step you take. Getting tuned into the artist’s story and journey is paramount, but I’ve also personally been itching for the candid, the shameless, and the zany. I’ve been looking for something that evades recent norms for art and promotion. We can and must still strategize, but creativity needs to take center stage again.


About the Author:

Bianca Gawencki is a senior at Boston University studying public relations and psychology –– with the hopes of utilizing her knowledge in the music industry! She is on the PRLab e-board as an Account Supervisor for our client TedxCambridge. She loves reading, baking, making new Spotify playlists, and streaming random documentaries!

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