Austin Griswold is the founder of Secret Service PR. He was previously the Director of Publicity at Epitaph Records.
Tell us a little about yourself and your experience.
My name is Austin Griswold and I own and operate Secret Service Publicity. My company’s focus is music and entertainment publicity and I currently work with a number of companies and indie/major labels on various campaigns.
I’ve worked in public relations for well over a decade now and previous to my current company I was the director of publicity at Epitaph Records.
What drove you to choose your career path?
I've always had an interest in music and entertainment and while in college I found that I really wanted to make a career out of my passions.
How did you go about getting your job? What kind of education and experience did you need?
I went to school for Public Relations at the University of Alabama. After graduating I moved to Los Angeles to find a job in the entertainment business that suited my goals. After internships and working at a PR agency for several years I landed a job at Epitaph. After several more years I wanted to challenge myself further and ventured out on my own and opened Secret Service Publicity. Over the years and different jobs the education and experience that has helped me the most is learning to refine my writing, communication and social skills. College laid the groundwork, and on the job experience helped truly prepare me for my career.
What do you actually spend the majority of your time doing?
Most of my time is spent writing press releases, pitching media, coordinating interviews, setting up photo shoots, preparing press reports, writing various marketing copy, going to shows, taking meetings with clients, administrative/office related business, etc.
What misconceptions do people often have about your job?
Many think that PR is a glamorous job, and while it does have perks it also is a very demanding and thankless job that requires extremely long hours, thick skin and a massive amount of patience.
What are your average work hours?
Depending on the week, usually around 50-60 hours
What personal tips and shortcuts have made your job easier?
Being organized and efficient with my time
What do you do differently from your coworkers or peers in the same profession?
I can't speak for others, but I believe in keeping a moderate workload that doesn't overextend my focus or abilities so I can do the best job I can for my clients.
Do you have any advice for people who need to enlist your services?
First thing would be to take a step back and see if you're ready to hire a publicist. Many think that by hiring a publicist it will instantly solve their problems or propel them to fame, but in reality much of the initial, organic legwork needs to be done by the client. They also need to have a product that is compelling enough for people to care about. Secondly, potential clients should have a clear and concise game plan of the roll out for said product and make sure other complementary areas (touring, marketing, licensing, etc) are all working together.
What's the worst part of the job and how do you deal with it?
Managing expectations of clients is one thing you have to master to really succeed at this career. While it's the publicist's job to aim high and pitch/create publicity that will make a difference to the overall campaign, often times the clients expectations are simply unrealistic or unobtainable no matter what the situation is. It's the publicist's job to manage that and communicate the realities of what is possible, what can possibly be achieved and what the goals should be in order to achieve the results of the overall campaign.
What's the most enjoyable part of the job?
I get to discover new bands, work with talented musicians and innovative companies and listen to music all day. What's better than that?
What kind of money can one expect to make at your job?
It really depends on your experience, the company you are at and the level of artists/bands you work with. It can be a financially rewarding career with hard work!
How do you move up in your field?
As with most fields the better you are at your role, the better chance you'll move up the ladder. Hard work, organization, refined skills, networking, etc all help!
What advice would you give to those aspiring to join your profession?
Make sure you know what you're getting into. Do it because you love it, but also make sure you know how to do it! Take classes, find a mentor, learn the ropes. Proper education and experience will lead you to success!