Q&A with Rising Digital MD Seb Mysko
This post is the thirteenth Q&A in an ongoing series looking at the usual topics of PR, employability and other hints on getting into the industry, albeit with a particular focus on social media. I’m delighted that Seb Mysko, Managing Director at Rising Digital, the Leeds-based social media and word of mouth marketing consultancy has shared his thoughts with us.
A bit more on Seb, he studied Marketing Management at Northumbria University, but his background is at Leeds’ top PR agencies having cut his teeth at Trimedia Harrison Cowley (now Grayling), before rising to Account Manager at Wolfstar, then on to Rising Music, before taking up his current position at Rising Digital.
Seb works in the hugely competitive music PR sector; dealing with a range of artists including the likes of Deadmau5, Swedish House Mafia and Gorillaz to name a few. He is a shining example to any student, having gone from graduate to Managing Director in just four years.
1. As Managing Director of Rising Digital, what does your role involve on a daily basis
For me, it is and always will be about the clients. I have a team of in-house staff and external freelancers that operate under the Rising Digital umbrella, currently servicing more than fifteen artists, labels and brands. To try and summarise a day in my life right now is honestly a bit tricky; loads of client facing work, project strategy and team management, but I also buzz off the creative and techie stuff too. Building podcasts, video blogs, designing EP covers and playing with simple html code… all in a day’s work! ..and then there’s the admin, the legal, the accounts and all the other highly non-creative stuff to take care of. Not so fun, but very necessary.
2. What’s it like to work at Rising Digital and how does it vary from the other positions you have had?
The banter literally never stops. The team is more like a family now, which obviously has it’s pro’s and con’s, but everyone is driven and self motivated because they thrive off what they do. Not many people have the luxury of waking up every morning and doing 100% what they love. The guys and I are all very humble about this fortunate position we’re in and take every step to ensure we’re doing the best possible job we can for our clients and our team. In comparison to other positions… longer hours, more pressure and less holiday… but, personally, this is the best job in the world.
3. How did you become Managing Director at Rising Digital?
I left Wolfstar in the summer of 2008 after one of the best years of my career. I had the luxury (professionally that is) of uninterrupted time with Stuart Bruce the MD, one of the true social media guru’s and Tim, a CEO whose passion for driving a business to success is immeasurable. Under those guys, my Account director and good friend Chris Norton and after a VERY slippery start, I found my feet as an Account manager… and then suddenly everything fell into place. My oldest pal in the world, Chris Lake, offered me a job heading up his label’s (Rising Music) marketing. I jumped at the opportunity and less than nine months later, whilst touring the USA together, we decided to set up Rising Digital. Just over two years later… here I am… still loving it!
4. What attracted you to the social media side of communications?
Ok… apologies if I offend anyone reading this, but I found PR pre-social media integration… well… dull. Draft news release, get approval, sell-in, wait for coverage, see coverage, collate coverage in big document and… hit repeat. JOKE. No seriously, for a time I did really enjoy traditional PR, but I think that was the team I was in and the type of clients. I made some friends in and out of house I’ll never forget who taught me so much. As a student I excelled in socialising… but for some reason, when presented with a full contract to be a Harrison Cowley (now Grayling I think) Account exec, things got more serious. Take all the good stuff in client relations, and add in word of mouth research and implementation, running events through Facebook and creating YouTube videos… that’s when it all got pretty cool.
5. What do you think are the main advantages of online PR vs. traditional PR?
I could go and on and on about this, but really it boils down to two aspects: One-way Vs two-way dialogue and potential ‘reach’. Great, you’ve landed a full page feature in Q Magazine… what now? Nail a successful viral campaign online and your reach is endless, the feedback is instant, and basic analysis is evident immediately. Our man deadmau5 did a piece with a YouTube team called Epic Meal Time – more than a million hits in 24hrs. This was just meant to be a bit of fun, but this combo has now had +4mill hits, +28k comments and +58K likes.
6. What has Rising Digital got planned for the next 12-18 months?
We’re just going through the motions of partnering with Three Six Zero Group. We’ve been pals with them since the word go, and share a common sense of understanding regarding business Vs pleasure. At the end of the day we’re still in the music industry, but by taking a more professional outlook on what we do, throwing in some healthy doses of strategy and research, we make a good team. We don’t work with all of the Groups’ Artists, but the guys we do work with… well, lets just say, it’s fun, creative and it always works out well.
7. Should students bring a hard copy portfolio to a PR interview? What do you think about e-portfolios?
Sure, if I was going for an interview I’d do the lot. First impressions are everything, so why not be uber ‘on it’ before you’ve even walked into the interview room. Then, print out a beast of a portfolio that looks slick, informative and well collated. Get yourself on sites like about.me, and of course cover the basics; Linked In etc etc…. When anyone gets in touch with us, we check them out immediately. The more pics of them at festivals the better 😉
8. What are the 3 most important skills graduates need to be successful in PR?
1. Organisation; PR is not rocket science. What you want at entry level is to be an asset to your fellow execs and managers. Being organised is the first step.
2. Listen! (And ask). Unlike me, if you actually pay full attention, take notes and get your head around the work, it’s simples. If you become a ‘yes’ person, but don’t have a clue what you’re saying yes too… well, you’re screwed. As I found out on many an occasion.
3. Confidence in your knowledge. One of my pet hates in PR are Account Execs who a) don’t know their client inside out and b) have little confidence due to a). Research, learn and research some more. When you speak to a blogger or journalist at either an online or offline publication, you need to know your stuff, otherwise, not only do you look like a muppet, but you are potentially damaging your client’s reputation too.
9. What 3 tips would you give to someone trying to land a music PR role?
1. I honestly think something crazy like 80% of people working in the industry have been brought into it through connections, or birthright! If you don’t know anyone and you send a CV, I wouldn’t hold out too much hope, unless of course you’re pitching yourself at one of the majors. So, the solution is… get connected!
2. Be realistic about your salary. We do what we do because we love the music, not the wages. But, and this is a big but, once you’re in; tickets, queuing, drinks, etc etc… gratis baby!
3. Be confident with your creativity. But please don’t be a bullshitter. The last thing the industry needs are more jacked-up kids full of self importance. Be humble and honest and you’ll be respected. Remember, you’re not the artist!
10. What more can be done to convince clients of the benefit of social media? (ROI, evaluation, sales etc)
Unlike major brands, we have the luxury of operating on a somewhat lighter scale of analysis. Our clients are interested in clear statistics; YouTube hits, Facebook Likes etc. Of course Management companies will work with us to drill further into insights, but overall, there is little need to do any ‘convincing’ of the importance of social media. Everyone in our industry is either doing ‘it’ or is working on getting there as fast as humanly possible. If we do ever come up against clients that put up a resistance to our methodology, we just take it nice and slow, and 10/10 they will be fully on board in a matter of weeks. At the end of the day… you don’t want to scare them!
I would like to put on record my thanks to Seb for sharing his thoughts with us and wish him and Rising Digital all the best for another fantastic year. An increasing number of students I speak to say they want to work for a PR agency that specialises in social media and music, so i’m sure they will find this Q&A insightful.