Job of the Month #7: Press Officer
Each month, IDOL presents a different job in the music industry. Actually more than a job, a person! Because behind the same job title, different individuals bring their role to life in unique ways according to their qualities, and the scope of their position in the company. Meet Cécile Legros, independent press officer, who tells us about her role in the development of musical projects.
What does a press officer do?
The basic job of a press officer is to be the intermediary between artistic projects, artists or cultural events, and the media, be it TV, radio, print or web. The press officer will carry the artistic project as far as possible in the media, and make sure that it is talked about as much as possible, in order to develop the image of the project.
Can you tell us a little about your career path?
I started as an intern at Barclay’s, where I signed for my first job, then I worked as a press agent at SNEP and with UPFI. These experiences taught me a lot because they allowed me to discover the role of the institutions in our industry.
After that, I worked for a few years at the communication department of Fnac, where I was in charge of all the music and ticketing activities. Then I came back to the label side of the industry as promo director for Atmosphériques for almost eight years, and then I set up my own independent press office.
Why did you choose to set up your own press office?
After eight years, I needed to diversify my activities. Atmosphériques was a label that I liked a lot, which had developed very nice things, like Charlie Winston, Louise Attaque, Abd Al Malik, the first Soldat Rose… So we looked for a solution to continue working together.
The label’s founder Marc Thonon and I knew each other very well since we met at Barclay, so we decided to build our collaboration differently. It allowed me to start working with festival type events, which I was very interested in at the time. It was a good compromise.
What would be a typical day for you?
The key is to never think that the day is going to unroll the way you imagined it. In essence, you depend a lot on your artists and their entourage, and at the same time, you depend on the demands of your media.
The daily routine would be to write newsletters, press releases, and make a lot of phone calls, send various messages, whether it’s to follow up on a journalist, reschedule an interview, confirm a call… It’s a lot of meetings that you set up to try to have a real contact with your media. At the same time, you’re reflecting with the manager or the project managers of the event you’re promoting.
In short, you are in a perpetual back and forth with the media and the entourage of your projects. You take part in all the strategic meetings, and those about the tools and timing of the project’s communication. You’re a bit of a simmering pot because you get a lot of feedback from the media and you’re in touch with almost everyone on the project.
What do you like about your job?
What I like about this job is the human encounters, and all the strong points that this represents, both positive and negative. All these collaborations, all these relationships that you build and that you magnetize around projects feed you, feed the project and your reflection.
The driving force behind the work of a press officer is the human relationship, the real one, the one embodied by the smile, by the link you create.
To represent your projects, you have to be visible, to be everywhere, in order to meet people. This is the essence of what we do: a network is not just an Excel file, but also the way in which you feed it, preserve it, and nourish it.
What are the qualities required for your position?
There are quite a few! First of all, you need to be a good listener, empathetic and organized. You also need to have a good network and therefore a certain sense of adaptation, a sense of communication and interpersonal skills.
The basis is to try to be as curious as possible about the people you meet. Because everything is linked in this job, and all the people you meet, whether it’s a production assistant in a radio station, a programmer, a freelancer in the press, a young journalist who sets up a small website… All these people, no matter how important, can play a role in the development of a project.
And what will make the difference is all the energy you put into embodying the project.
What are the main difficulties of your missions?
It’s a long-distance race. It’s not immediately fulfilling, so you have to have some confidence in your decision-making over the long haul. We have to take into account both the objectives of the artistic project and on the other hand the ecosystem of a media.
Sometimes, we have to explain to labels or project managers that it is not possible to ask more from our media, to make them aware of the fragility of this ecosystem… And in the end, we never have the guarantee of what we will obtain in the end.
We often forget that the development of an artistic project takes time. Of course, some projects go faster than others and that’s great. But for example, the success of Clara Luciani was not made in a day: the single did not enter immediately in radio and yet there was already this smile, this energy on stage and especially a huge title!
What's the strangest task you've ever had to do?
During the Fnac Live festival, I found myself with François Hollande – at the time French President, who absolutely wanted to greet Christine and the Queens. I had to take him through the crowded courtyard of the Hôtel de Ville to get to the main stage, all on a very tight schedule because I had to take Christine to a live broadcast for France Inter.
This meeting was important, but at the same time I needed to show the head of state that I had something else to do – without losing my smile! This kind of thing happens quite regularly, so depending on the personality in front of you, it’s more or less embarrassing.
Because you create life around your projects, you don’t necessarily restrict yourself to your primary mission. For example, the dinners that you organize around a concert, simply to bring people together around artists that you like, that’s part of the lot even if you don’t have to do it. But any human moment you create is going to get attention in some way.
What binds you to IDOL?
When I arrived at Atmosphériques as promo director, the label was sharing the premises with a very young company… IDOL! That’s where I met Pascal Bittard for the first time and at the time, Atmosphériques was one of the very first of IDOL’s partners. I can say that I have seen IDOL grow.
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