Lorde – A Star with “Royal” Branding

1827165_et_2014_coachella_photo_2000_w__LSGuest post by Devon Landman

Considering the amount of time Lorde has been famous, you would think to call her a “rising pop star.” However, within a single year, the New Zealand native won two Grammy Awards (Song of the Year and Best Pop Solo Performance) for her album, “Pure Heroine” (2013). It seems she skipped the “rising” part and became a pop star overnight.

Perhaps it’s Lorde’s unique song lyrics and tunes that caught the attention of America. But to gain that much success in such a short amount of time, and not even be from the United States, is something to explore. There have been many foreign artists who have tried to make it big in the U.S. How did Lorde brand herself in the U.S. market so impeccably?

I have come up with a list of strategies that Lorde has used to make her a star before her journey even began:

1. She promoted her single “Royals” on the biggest talk shows early in the game. Lorde performed on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon,” “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” and the “2013 New Zealand Music Awards.” Although without proper PR representation, this type of media exposure is rarely something that a performer can accomplish on his or her own, by debuting her music on top tier media outlets she was able to firmly establish herself on the pop culture stage.

2. She stays true to her age. For example, the music video for “Royals” featured Lorde’s high school classmates in slow motion. Many other artists hire famous actors to perform in their music videos rather than their peers.

3. Lorde reminds her fans, “Flaws are OK.” On March 30th, she tweeted a before and after picture of her during one of her concerts. The photo had been photoshopped to hide her acne. She said she preferred the “before” photo, because it was real. She tweeted, “I find this curious — two photos from today, one edited so my skin is perfect and one real. Remember flaws are ok :)” She also Instagrammed herself another time with acne cream on, proving she is the same as everyone else and making her even more lovable to the public.

4. She keeps her focus entirely on her music. In the entertainment world, stars like Miley Cyrus often exploit bodies at the expense of their musical talent. When asked to discuss her role as a feminist with V Magazine, Lorde replied, “People like to paint me in a certain way, but I’m a hugely sex-positive person and I have nothing against anyone getting naked. For me personally, I just don’t think it really would complement my music in any way or help me tell a story any better.”

5. Lorde created a strong, universal name for herself as an artist. Her real name is Ella Yelich-O’Connor, but choosing a short and memorable stage name such as “Lorde” was a smart move when branding herself. The reason for her name choice? “I was interested in aristocracy and royalty at the time.” It has nothing to do with religion. “Lorde is like a character, something I can switch on and switch off when I’m on stage,” she said.

Whether you call her Lorde or Ella, she knows how to remain grounded despite the pressures of the entertainment industry. If I ever decide to ditch my law school plans and become a singer, I know who I’m calling for advice on making it big in no time.

About Devon Landman:

Devon Landman’s expertise includes social media management and creative writing. She gained her experience from being a member of the writing team and an editor for Platform Magazine and interning for Eastern Florida State College. She is graduating from the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Ala. in May with her B.A. in Communication and Information Sciences. This upcoming fall, she plans to attend the College of Charleston School of Law in Charleston, SC.

Sinco, Luis/ Los Angeles Times. “Lorde performs at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio.” Photo. The Los Angeles Times. 16 April, 2014. 16 April, 2014. <http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/gossip/la-et-mg-lorde-teen-vogue-hilary-duff-lena-dunham-hair-name-20140415,0,6738572.story#ixzz2z5p0F9uG>

Refusing Quentin

Levon-Biss_Quentin-Tarantino_071212-2890_V1Many moons ago I was a partner in a company that offered public relations and personal management services as well as video and film production.  We shared an office with a solo entrepreneur whose stepson used to spend a good deal of time there.  Eventually the stepson also moved into the office space.  He was well, unique.  You generally didn’t really have a conversation with him, you asked a question and then kicked back as he let go with an amazing machine gun, rapid fire monologue.  He spoke with his body, acting out his responses.

He was working on financing a short film that he was directing and starring in called My Best Friend’s Birthday.  He had run into money issues.  He knew we were involved in producing so he snuck us into an editing bay at UCLA to watch some of the raw footage of the film to see if we were interested.  It was a black and white short, but dialogue was great, the direction was rough but interesting.  Still, it was a short with no names and we were producing low budget horror films.  So, we passed.

The short was eventually completed and, by the title of this blog I’ve pretty much given away who I’m talking about here.  When we refused, Quentin, Tarantino he, in no uncertain terms, explained that we were making a colossal mistake because he was going to become one of Hollywood’s biggest (expletive) directors.  The prediction in and of itself was nothing new.  Having worked in the entertainment industry for a while, it was a prediction that I’d heard several times.  But never had someone said it so assuredly.   I had no doubt as to his sincerity, but I’m not sure of the odds that I gave to that particular prediction’s accuracy.

Well, the odds were on Quentin’s side, big time.

Fast forward about twenty five years. Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill 1 & 2, Inglorious Bastards, Django Unchained...  The list is incomplete but it is impressive to say the least.  I’ll never know if Quentin knew he was going to be this successful, or if his bravado was part of what helped propel him to where he now sits.

Looking back I now see him as a great study in the emergence of an artist.  Quentin is unique in that he both writes and directs his films.  His singular vision is truly reflected in his films.  Few filmmakers have the talent to write and direct, or the pull to get their films financed at such a high level.

Back when I knew him he was still working at a video store, but he made that his university.  He ate, drank and breathed films.  There were times he would come to the office after having gone to see two or three films, something I couldn’t even imagine doing on a weekday.  He had a vision, but he also had talent and drive.  And, as he predicted that day as we walked to the parking lot after having viewed part of his film, he has become one of the(arguably the) major directors of the cinema.  Pulp Fiction changed the industry and spawned legions of imitators.  His stories, dialogue, direction are singularly his.

He’s also as brazen in his marketing as he is in his filmmaking.  During last year’s race to the Oscars, what other director had the gumption to have an image of him or herself in the film ads?  And here is where Quentin is a great study in creative marketing.  Working with Hollywood’s master marketer, Harvey Weinstein, they’ve turned the marketing of Tarantino into an art.

It’s been an amazing career to watch from both a creative and a PR and marketing perspective.  So, maybe I’ll pay closer attention to the next person who announces that they’re going to be the biggest (blanking) whatever in Hollywood.  Sometimes, as Quentin, illustrates, it happens.

Copyright © Anthony Mora Communications 2014

Bliss, Levon. “A FEW IMAGES FROM A RECENT SESSION WITH QUENTIN TARANTINO.  A GENTLE AND THOROUGHLY LIKABLE MAN.” Photo. Levon Bliss. 21 Dec 2012. 10 Feb 2014. <http://levonbiss.com/news/2012/12/quentin-tarantino/&gt;

PR For Artists: The Art of PR

Creative businessFrom my perspective, when it comes to building a career as an artist, creating your art is step one.  That’s simply your starting point.  You then have a responsibility to your art, which is to find ways to get your art to the public.  If you are creating simply for yourself, that is great; that is valid.  But, if you are creating in order to sell your art and build your career doing what you love, you then owe it to your art, and yourself, to market.

I realize that this can sound self-serving coming from someone who runs a public relations company, but along with being a PR consultant, I’m also a novelist, playwright and screenplay writer. When it comes to creating and marketing art, I’ve been on both sides of the fence and know it can often be an uneasy fit (to mix a metaphor).   But it needn’t be.  Throughout the ages, artists as varied as Dickens, Picasso, and Bowie have all illustrated that creative marketing can and should be a seamless part of one’s career as an artist.

Several years ago, when I was working as a freelance journalist, I interviewed William Burroughs for an article.  He was a fascinating interview.  One interesting point he made was that Allen Ginsberg was the best PR rep that the Beats could have ever had.  He spread the word like wildfire.  And Ginsberg wasn’t the only PR master in the arts.  Lord knows that Warhol was a marketing genius.  He knew exactly what buttons to push to get his story out to the public.  It wasn’t advertising or direct marketing that Ginsberg or Warhol used, it was the art of effective storytelling, which is exactly what public relations is all about.

PR truly is the art of storytelling and if you realize that creating a successful marketing or PR campaign for your work is an art form in itself, you can begin to look at it with new eyes.  The secret is in finding the right story to tell and then presenting it in a compelling way to the right journalists.

American painter, Brendan O’Connell, who has been featured in a wide range of media including The New Yorker, The Colbert Report, NPR, and the Boston Globe (front page) is a client who has been dubbed by the media as the “Warhol of Walmart.” Brendan’s melding of pop culture with fine art, tells a story of everyday America, one that resonates with the media.

As in Brendan’s case, it’s a compelling story, not a sales pitch that grabs the media’s attention.  Whether you’re a musician, author, filmmaker or a painter, your story is your fortune.  The media doesn’t want to be sold or hyped; it doesn’t want smoke-and-mirrors or jargon.  What it wants (and needs on a daily basis) is compelling stories.

PR is the most effective way to build a bridge between your art and the media, and the public, and is the most powerful way to create and establish your personal brand.  It is the only form of marketing that reaches your target market and offers you the legitimacy and validation of being featured as a news story.

If you’re not yet in a position to invest in a media campaign, there are definitely other marketing avenues and steps you can take.  The main point is that you take action; that instead of waiting for that preverbal white knight to appear and discover you, you take matters into your own hands.

From my years working as a writer and a PR consultant, I’ve seen first-hand the impact that media coverage and marketing can have.  As I mentioned earlier, it’s not about selling, but about story-telling, how an artist develops, tells, and presents his or her story can make the difference between a struggling artist and a breakout success.

Copyright © Anthony Mora Communications 2013

From Guest Blogger, Ann Convery: Want the Real Secrets of a Super Star? Ask Will Smith

FILM Smith 1Hi ,

Years ago, Will Smith was doing OK
as a rising TV star and movie actor.

But he was dead clear about his goal:
he wanted to be the biggest movie
star in the world.

So he and his manager studied
the 10 top-grossing movies of all time.

10 out of 10 had special effects.
9 out of 10 had special effects with creatures.
8 out of 10 had special effects with creatures and a love story.

They found the sweet spot in the market.

So they found a special effects script
with creatures and a love story.

Matthew Perry dropped out of
“Independence Day” at the last minute,
and Smith was in.

It was the highest grossing movie of 1996.

“Men in Black” didn’t do too badly either.

By age 44, Will Smith had accrued $4.4 Billion
in box office receipts.

What does this mean for you?

Will Smith’s success is no accident.
He studied the market and
made it happen.

Will Smith, and it might surprise you,
Elton John, Paul McCartney, and Mick Jagger
plotted their rise to the top.

If you want to go from where you are
to the top of your field, take this little test:

Have you actually studied your rise to the top?

Do you have a juicy, mouth-watering vision,
in living color, of what life will be like when you
get there?

Do you know what the sweet spot is
in your market?

Do you know what your market craves
and can’t get enough of?

Do you know what draws people to you and makes them
want you, you, you?

Do you know how to create that?

Think Will Smith. Bruce Willis. Tom Cruise.

Their star power is not an “accident of birth.”

Smith studied every actor, like Don Cheadle,
who came on “Fresh Prince” to learn the
secrets of what made them good.

Do you study the stars in your market
to see what makes them stand out?

Do you know how your market sees you now?

Do you know how to reposition
yourself for amazing success?

Do you have a mentor who can take
you there?

And by the way, you need that
juicy, mouth-watering vision from
the top right now.

Research proves that without a
crystal clear picture of your success,
you’ll never believe you can get there.

So you won’t have the motivation
to get going.

So you stay where you are.

Success is not fairy dust.

It’s more than hard work.

It’s a series of deliberate, planned, calculated,
shrewd moves.

If you answered “yes” to 8 out of
10 questions…

World – Stand back!

You’re on your way.


There’s 1 spot left in the Private Accelerator
Program for entrepreneurs who are hell-bent
on reaching the top.

If this is you, and you’ve got butterflies
just thinking about it –
Good sign.

Send a quick email to annc@annconvery.com with “Ann, I’m interested” in the subject line.I
I’ll send you a one-page application so we can see if you’re a good fit for this high-octane ride.

Copyright © Ann Convery 2012

McMullen, Marion. “The Secret of Will Smith’s Success.” Photo. Coventry Telegraph12 Jun 2012. 27 Mar 2013. <http://blogs.coventrytelegraph.net/passtheremote/2012/06/the-secret-of-will-smiths-succ.html&gt;

The Art of Success

art of successAs an artist, you never know what is going to grab the media’s attention.  That’s why your best bet is to do the work you love and then tailor your marketing to fit your artwork.  I’m not a believer in trying to figure out what‘s going to entice the media, or coming up with the next big thing. Film companies and TV networks have tried that approach for years and you’ve seen what their track record is like.  Your job is to focus on your art, your creativity and on your strengths.  But that doesn’t mean you forget about the marketing aspect of your business, because art is a business.    And that needn’t be a bad thing.  It simply is.  Don’t resist it; use it to your advantage.

It all comes down to your perspective and how you approach this aspect of your career.  Remember creative marketing is an art.   Not to mention the fact that without marketing, most likely your art will be your avocation instead of your vocation.  But again don’t tailor your work towards your marketing, but tailor your marketing towards your art.

For example, our client, Brendan O’Connell, has been painting his Walmart series for going on eight years now.  This is not a series he’s worked on because he thought it would be a great marketing tool.  He painted the series because that’s what he was organically moved and inspired to paint.  He was following his calling.  Now the media has caught up.   His work has struck a chord.   He was featured on CBS Sunday.  Watch Brendan O’Connell (Walmart’s Warhol) CBS SundayHe’ll be coming out in People magazine; he was profiled in the New Yorker and was interviewed on the Colbert Report.

Brendan O’Connell on the Colbert Report!

The bottom line is he stay focused on his art first, but was prepared when media interest surfaced.  So, yes come up with a marketing plan and a direction, make that an integral part of your career gameplan, but don’t try to assume you know what’s going to interest the media and tailor your work in that way.  You’ll generally be wrong and you won’t be doing your work…

…Focus on your art, your unique vision and then tailor your marketing accordingly.  Be authentic, do your work and prepare for success.

Copyright © Anthony Mora 2013

The Art of Music Marketing

music marketingBack when I was still managing musicians you could take a cassette to an A&R rep, drag him or her down to see a band perform and if they struck the right chord (so to speak) the label could take over from there.  Times have changed.

Truth is even if a label does get excited about an act or a singer; now a days they’re as much in the dark about how to launch a new artist as anyone else.  Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating it a bit.  The labels still have some clout.  But you basically follow my drift.

The bad news is there is no longer that huge well oiled machine that can take a band, run them through the process, and pop out a potential mega star.  Although, truth be told that machine was not always a benevolent one and quite a few artists lost their sound, persona and soul while being run through the process.

The good news is more artists have a shot at getting their music out there.  Production costs are miniscule compared to what they used to cost.  More and more artists are able to control the process and more albums, CDs, Downloads (whatever) are being produced.

The really tricky part now is how, without the help of a label, artists can get their music heard.  It’s tricky but not impossible.  Musicians that realize that marketing is now a part of their job description can take their fate into their own hands.  Yes, the music is the thing, but musicians who focus on their look, image, PR, guerrilla marketing, social media outreach can still reach a formidable market.

It takes work time and dedication, but not that long ago this type of individualized outreach was not possible.  Without a label there was little chance of finding a real market.  Times have changed.  Chances are no A&R rep is going to make you into the next rock superstar, but you now have the control box in your hands.  Use it!

Copyright © Anthony Mora 2013

PR Tip of the Day: Developing a Trend Story

Don’t only stay on top of the news and breaking stories; also keep a look out for trends in the media, in pop culture or in your specific field.  A good PR approach is to define a new trend or a new approach that you can discuss and explain to the media and the general public.  For example, if you’re a musician or producer, can you address how the music industry is shifting and explain how the various new trends in music are impacting the culture at large.  The Internet has changed the music business in ways no one could have predicted a decade ago.  Develop a PR pitch on how the music industry has changed and give your take on how musicians or producers can utilize the net to enhance their brand and outreach.

Copyright © Anthony Mora 2013

PR Tip of the Day: Expanding Your PR Focus

expand your focusExpanding Your PR Focus:  When creating your PR pitches, your primary expertise is the area you’re going to generally focus on.  But that focus doesn’t have to be limiting.  Before launching your public relations outreach, study different ways that you can present or pitch your primary story.  For example, if you’ve produced a new film, you can talk about the story line, the actors, the director, the journey it took to bring the film to fruition, any current topical stories that the film touches on, how the film reflects the culture, etc.  There are a number of different approaches you can take and you want to broaden your pitch when approaching the media.  The more story angles you given them, the greater your chances of garnering media coverage.

Copyright © Anthony Mora 2013

Producing A Film? Create Your PR Plan First

Film PRMaking a film can be a magical experience, but  many filmmakers get so excited about and engrossed in the making of their film that they forget producing their film is only step one.  Actually the production of your film should be pretty far down the line in your film to-do list.  Particularly when it comes to new filmmakers, the excitement of making a film, and all that is involved in scripting, pre-producing, casting, production and post production, has a tendency to become all consuming.  Creating the film becomes everything.  But here’s the question, what are you going to do once your film (filled with joy, enthusiasm and dreams as well as blood sweat and tears) is completed.  How are you going to get your film, promoted, marketed, distributed?  How are you going to build that bridge between your finished product and your audience?

If this article were actually a script, we’d be having a flashback sequence here.  We flash back to the incarnation of your project.  We would fade back to before you edited, shot, cast, or wrote your film and add a new focus to the process.  In this sequence your new flash back approach in the past would change your future.  You’d figure out a game plan outlining how to PR, promote and market your film.  Your new public relations plan would act as a guide, as a roadmap as you moved forward in your filmmaking process.  It would be a bridge-building process between you, your audience, distributors, potential investors and influences.  It would be the focus that helped insure your film would have a strong shot at succeeding.

So many filmmakers come to me after they’ve finished their film.  They’ve been so wrapped in the process and the project has inevitably gone over budget.  They didn’t consider a marketing campaign before they started production and now have very little money left for marketing.   There’s often little I can do for them at that point.  Those I have most success with either start with me during pre-production, or from the start realized that marketing was an essential part of the game plan and kept that in mind during the production process.

Ideally you want to start promoting your film and creating a buzz online and in the media before you finish shooting or editing your project.  A well thought out media relations and social media campaign can serve you in a number of ways.  Keep in mind, depending on your needs; you are going to be addressing different audiences with your media relations campaign.   One outreach could be directed to the general public, another to a more targeted grout of viewers, another to distributors and still another to possible investors.  You can also start creating a buzz for upcoming projects while promoting your current film.

So dive into your film project.  Make the very best film you can.  But be smart about it.  Make a PR and marketing campaign an essential part of your film’s game plan.  You don’t want to end up with a film that a few of your friends see, or gathers dust in your home, or gets submitted to a few film festivals and then fades away.  You’ve put your heart, soul, time and money into your film project.  You now owe it to the film and to yourself to give it a chance to succeed.

Copyright © Anthony Mora 2012


When launching a public relations or publicity campaign, you want to highlight your company, product or service, but to be successful you need to go a few steps further. You want to educate, to enlighten and you want to entertain. It’s important to realize how important it is to meet those objectives.  Many business owners mistakenly think of media relations as fluff and hype.  Granted that type of PR does exist, but the glitter and flash isn’t what makes for an effective campaign. What makes PR and media relations effective is that it tells a story, educates, entertains, enlightens and it gives the public information on a particular topic or field that they otherwise wouldn’t have access to. So, how can you create a media pitch that meets those requirements?  To start, study these tips:

  1. Study the various media outlets.  You’re going to succeed by learning how the media thinks, not by assuming you think they know what they want.  Put yourself in the place of the editor or producer that you’re pitching.  Rethink your presentation with an eye at how you could fit a story on your business, product, or talent into the format of that media outlet.  What story would work?  What would the focus be?
  2.  Broaden the way that you view your business.  Don’t just pitch the obvious, look for various hooks and stories, including human interest stories, business-based stories, etc.  For example when we worked with a Hyperbaric Oxygen Center, we made sure to broaden our approach so the pitches were media appropriate.   We pitched it as a medical story and placed them in the L.A. Times, pitched it as a beauty-oriented story and placed it in W magazine, and other women’s publications.
  3.  Press conference, events.  Events and press conferences can be helpful if used judiciously.  But you have to be realistic and have a really strong hook.  If it works, it can help take a campaign to the next level, but keep in mind that it takes quite a bit to get the media to an event or a press conference.  Make sure you’re offering a compelling reason for the media to show up.   Also, if a big story hits on that day you’re in trouble, so always be aware of that fact.
  4.  Write a book.  I know, easier said than done. But a book makes for a great media calling card.  He helps present you as an expert in your field
  5. Tie your story to a story that is being covered in the news.  Look for current events or news stories that are being covered in the media.  Now see if you can find an angle that you can use to tie your story to the larger story.  For example, when I was doing PR on my book Spin to Win, I would scan the news to see if there were any stories of celebrities or companies that were having media or PR issues.  I’d then pitch a story on how said celebrity or company could best handle their image problem.
  6. Find the editorial calendars for publications and pitch them stories that fit in with stories their planning.  Most every publication uses an editorial calendar.  Study them and see what stories they’re working on that you can tie your pitch to.  It makes it an easier pitch if you already know they’re working on a particular topic.

These are a few tips to get you going.  Remember you want to pitch towards the media’s needs.  Do that and you’ll meet your needs.

Copyright © Anthony Mora 2012

Whaling, Heather. “How to Take Your PR Pitches to the Next Level.” Photo. Mashable. 03 Mar 2012. 15 Aug 2012. <http://mashable.com/2012/03/03/better-social-media-pitches>

Public Relations for Artists

PR for artists is an art in itself.  Effective public relations comes down to compelling storytelling.  The more compelling the story, the more effective the PR campaign.  Unlike with advertising, or direct marketing or other forms of promotion, by utilizing PR or media relations you are the news.  Developing effective stories is the most important part of a campaign.  A compelling story that connects with their readers, viewers or listeners is what writers, editors and producers are looking for.

As an artist, your responsibility is creating the best work you can. The trouble is, particularly now in the age of social media, it’s often difficult to realize that creating your work is step one.  In the real world, it’s not where your job ends if you want your art to reach your audience.

Creating the work is step one, marketing it is a whole other story. But if you realize that creating a successful PR campaign for your work is an art form in itself, you can begin to look at it with new eyes. Whether offline or online, your story is your fortune. A band, author, filmmaker or a painter becomes successful once they tell their story in a believable, impactful way.  Effective PR truly is the art of storytelling. The media doesn’t want to be sold or hyped. It doesn’t want smoke-and-mirrors or jargon. What it wants (and needs on a daily basis) is compelling stories.  PR can bring stories about you, your work and your career to your target market and to investors and influencers in your field.  It is a way to create and develop your brand.  It’s also a way to get out such practical information as where your shows and exhibits will be, which galleries are showing your work, activities or organizations you’re involved with, collaborations you’re working on, new work you’re creating.

To start you need to know your target market and your audience.  Understand where they find their information, what do they read, watch and listen to?  What sites or blogs do they visit?  What interests them?  Who else shares those interests?

Now develop stories about your art, your journey as an artist, your perspective on art and the art world, etc.  You never know where your most compelling stories are until you work on them.  Don’t just stick with the obvious.  Chances are you’ll be surprised by which stories will connect with the media and your audience.  But then again, art is like that.

Copyright © Anthony Mora 2012


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