Account Manager Victoria Cappelletti’s views on working as a PR in Paris and London: Differences, difficulties & evolution
Over one year ago I moved to London to start working at WildKat PR as an Account Manager. I had previously worked for two years in the music industry in Paris, at a major record label and also in an independent PR agency with a similar structure to WildKat.
Being aware of the stakes of promoting independent and emerging artists in Paris, I was curious to see and experience the differences between the industries, seeking new professional challenges and looking forward to tame British journalists.
As I had previously worked with UK and international clients, I already had an insight into some of the differences, however, after a year of working as a press officer in London, I was able to find distinctive quirks.
In my opinion, big record labels and majors rule music industries. That’s the case in both the UK and France. Independent, alternative and emergent artists thus struggle (more) to rise and thrive with their art.
As the French government cuts budgets for culture, the media has to focus on bigger artists, or at least on the ones that will gain a more significant audience. I could see that they were sliding dangerously from programming artists that they are personally passionate about, to generating profit for the media. As someone who is, and has always been so passionate about music, spending entire evenings digging for unknown tunes on Soundcloud, it makes me quite sad.
My knowledge of the UK government’s decisions for culture (apart from Brexit which will have an important impact on diversity in my humble French opinion) is limited, but it seems quite obvious that there are way more opportunities for new artist, to perform but also to be featured in the media.
Regarding live performances, for example, maybe it comes from the fact that all things cultural don’t happen in central London, as it is in Paris intra-muros, but alternative, emergent, underground cultural opportunities blossom in zone 2 and 3, whereas it is almost impossible to make Parisians cross the city centre’s limits.
Hence, there is a profusion of music venues, from established concert halls to basements and Pizza Express, that allow emerging bands and underground composers to perform their music or art, get visibility and improve their talent.
It also seems that there are more channels and ways to promote artists in the UK.
For example, I was able to secure a piece in a national newspaper for my first campaign, whereas the journalist had never heard from me before, and my sharp French accent couldn’t fool anyone.
Of course relationships with the media are the key to being a good and efficient PR. But here in the UK, I’ve felt like journalists are more open-minded and if you pitch to them right, offering an interesting idea, they will say yes.
In France, it’s more difficult to offer something original, and journalists are not likely to respond to you unless they know you. Maybe it’s also the case here, but simply in my experience, it’s not.
I’ve learnt that here anything is basically possible, if you put enough creativity and resources into it. This is an integral part of the culture at WildKat and has taught me a new way to approach to PR. The French music industry is obviously still strong, and there are still great things to do – it just seemed to me that without a strong record label behind them, emerging artists had less chances to be promoted in media and programmed in a venue, even the smallest.
Note: Beyond the PR and media industry, I think the differences between the two countries are probably beyond business. It’s social, it’s a way of working, communicating, and thinking.
The UK has seen the birth of major underground musical movements such as punk, grime and trip-hop. It’s the home of beautiful weirdos, from Elton John to Boy George to David Bowie, among so many others.
I believe that all these cultural developments and their leaders ‘used’ people’s minds to be more open, accepting, experiencing and enjoying alternative and underground music and art movements.
Generally, the UK is known for being a cool country, where people won’t judge you for your half-balled turquoise haircut, wearing shorts in January, or the music you are listening to. I’ve seen youngsters sing along to rock songs next to quiet old men in the pub.
I am not saying France is behind in terms of music – it has the 2nd best hip-hop scene, many other amazing weirdos and a new generation of artists that are now making their way across the Channel and beyond – for example, Christine & The Queens whom I’m always glad to see on billboards here in London.
Photo: momo.works/ refuse proposals
We have a great new wave of music, which I think and hope will go far.
I believe Paris should open its ‘borders’ offer more exciting opportunities to emerging artists through reopening old venues, rehabilitating others, and take (some) inspiration in London’s music life’s landscape.
Photo: Victoria Cappelletti
(Written on December 15, 2016 )