Here on ‘Skoped Out With Stoli Razz’ you know that we love to interview the hottest new artists. This week we are going behind the scenes to the the people who make the industry run like it does. It is a priviledge to interview Mona Loring, the president of Mona Loring PR in CA. Mona created & runs a full capacity PR firm for music, books, TV, & film. If you are looking for that big break this is for you!
Stoli: At what age did you decide that you wanted to get into PR and the music industry?
ML: I knew I wanted to be in the entertainment industry my entire life. For years I always thought I’d be the one in the spotlight until I got a dose of reality in college. I was a theatre minor and by the time I took my first acting class, I came to the realization that the spotlight wasn’t for me and that I’d rather be the one to do big things in the background. Flash forward, I was 26 when I went into PR after freelance writing while taking copywriting (PR writing) courses. It was kismet in a way– the entire thing fell into my lap. Not to cut myself short, I have worked 17-20 hours days over the past three years, but I did get lucky finding what I was meant to do so randomly and at such a young age.
Stoli: Did you have to go to a special school or university to study PR and/or music business?
ML: Yes and no. I took courses in copywriting, which is a form of PR writing. Therefore, my background in PR writing is solid. I had to learn everything else from experience. As I was growing, I was trying to learn every angle of PR in every area I possibly could. I worked for free at time but now, I have experience in non-profit and philanthropic, business, fashion, and literary public relations in addition to my background with TV, film and music.
Stoli: What had happened that led you to starting your own company MLC PR? How did you go out and attract clients when you were just starting out?
ML: This is where the luck comes into play. My first job in PR was as a PR Director for a children’s book publisher called Playdate Kids Publishing. The president of the company owned a music video production company where I had interned in college so she already knew my work ethic well. When she read a few press releases and articles I had published, she called and asked me to work for her on the spot. I was already making a living writing freelance, but I always had an interest in PR– just never thought I could get into it without working at a large company first. I decided to throw caution to the wind and go for it. Since my passion was always in the entertainment industry, in addition to working with the publishing house, I sought after film producers, musicians, actors and reality stars. I offered them incredible rates and asked them to give me a shot– I was a smart girl who’d do them well while trying to build my firm. Without hesitation many of them agreed… Things just snowballed from there! Word of mouth rocks…
Stoli: Your firm handles everything from radio promotion, music licensing and corporate sponsorship acquirement, artist development and consulting services. Would you not say that you are are much more than just a PR firm and maybe even on the verge of management as well?
ML: We definitely can be seen as a form of management to some, and I do personally have music management in my background. We try not to outright say we offer management since we work with many music managers seamlessly without crossing any lines. However, when we have an artist who is not yet completely established and is somewhat starting out, we definitely do our best to assist them outside of what our services provide, mainly because we treat clients like family and we want them to do their best. These extra services definitely give us a leg up over many other PR firms.
Stoli: MLC PR also handles book, movies, and TV PR. What is a major difference that you see when promoting a music client than a TV show or book release?
ML: Music clients are the most laid-back clients of all. There is a different kind of passion that I see in musicians. With authors, they’re much less artistic and much more business-minded. TV clientele is a mix. Some are extremely passionate artists and others are natural-born entrepreneurs.
Stoli: You have had very impressive success thus far. What top three traits would you say are crucial for success in business today?
ML: Thank you, it didn’t come easy! Crucial traits for business success? I’d say: drive, intelligence and confidence. If I could add another, I’d add ethics, but unfortunately, I do see many people succeed in this world without it.
Stoli: If a client comes to you for your services but you are not feeling their sound or potential, how would you handle that?
ML: I am very honest. If I am not feeling them, I tell them in some way. I may lessen the blow and say it politely, but I never work with anyone I don’t believe in. I also try my best to give them constructive criticism. If they have potential, I definitely try to give them some tips on what they could do to improve.
Stoli: How has the Internet revolutionized the PR industry from how it was many years ago?
ML: Wow, I don’t think I could even touch this topic without at least an hour of someone’s time. To sum it up as best I can, I’d say that the internet has been incredible for the PR industry. Publicists who know how to think outside of the box now can reach the masses without the media. Through brilliant websites like: Myspace, Facebook, iSound, Stickam.com, etc., publicists can create a client’s image, set the record straight, disseminate news and much more.
Stoli: What PR campaign that you worked on until now are you most proud of how effective it was?
ML: That is a tough question because I am proud of a number of my campaigns. Specifically with music clientele, my firm has brought bands no one knew about in the spotlight, created local celebrities and even scored record label attention through the buzz we’ve created. It’s been amazing.
Stoli: When you are not working at the desk, what do you like to do on your free time?
ML: What is free time? ‘Nuff said.
Stoli: Where do you see the music industry headed in 10 years from now?
ML: Again, another topic that could be a chapter in an entire book. The music industry has changed immensely because of the Internet. Artists now have a plethora of outlets to share their music to the public online. I choose the term “plethora” carefully because this abundance can at times be damaging. There’s so much out there, it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle. Many artists are now trying to release their music without the help of a label, which I agree, for some, is a smart plan. However, for many, if the marketing is not well thought-out, and the team around the artist is not well-built, failure is far too likely. Bottom line, I think in the next 10 years, the music industry will see a shift in music distribution leading to more and more independent artists and labels legitimately competing with the majors.
Stoli: Where would you like to see MLC PR in 5 years from now?
ML: I have to say I am thankful for where it is now! In such a short period of time the firm has grown immensely and the only thing I’d want to see is more growth, while the family-feel remains intact. We may seem somewhat corporate from an imaging standpoint, and I branded us like that on purpose, we’re professional and we mean business. However, our clients all feel right at home, knowing our hearts and minds are on their side at all times.
Stoli: You hired Jennifer Lyneis to handle corporate sponsorships (as well as head up record promotion and music licensing). What are the big corporations looking for before they invest in a musical act or entity?
ML: They want what everyone else wants when investing in anything. The peace of mind that they’re supporting an artist that has stirred up a strong buzz and built a solid following. Jen and I decided to come together because we both knew an artist would strongly benefit if they had one solid firm act as a team fueling the each other representative’s fire. When MLC PR builds a buzz for an artist and/or raises their profile, a record promoter can get them played on airwaves that much easier– and that much more often. If we create a celebrity-like image for an artist, a company is that much more likely to endorse or sponsor their act. Same thing on the flip side, radio airplay and corporate sponsorship gives us a story…
Stoli: What form of marketing would you say is most effective and why?
ML: In this day and age, online marketing is by far the most effective. The reason is plain and simple– the Internet’s outreach far surpasses any national magazine or radio show’s numbers. We’re always trying to build a strong online buzz around each client because in this day and age, almost everyone surfs the net to hear new music, check out their favorite artists and read the news.
Stoli: What can we look for from MLC PR for 2008 & beyond?
ML: Keep an eye out for our artists! They are the only one who really matter! Check out our Myspace for news and definitely reach out to me and my team… we love getting emails from our clients’ fans and potential clients curious about what we do and how we do it!
Photo: Alaina Alexander, Mona Loring and Sabrina Sloan