Take 5 with Stacie Vining of Vining Media Relations

Stacie w/ hubby Ray & daughter Olivia

When I first interviewed Stacie Vining in 2002, she was only on the job for two years and working with a big publicity group.  I was a senior in college writing an article on women working in the Christian music industry for my graduation project.  So when I established a professional relationship with Stacie a year ago, I asked her via e-mail, “Do you remember when…?”  And, of course, she did!

Enthusiastic about her artists, Stacie is the owner of Vining Media Relations, which is based in Nashville (or as Stacie puts it, “Nashvegas, TN, baby!”).  Currently, Stacie’s current PR roster includes Francesca Battistelli (read BSW’s Take 5), Jonny Diaz, Yellow Cavalier, Anthony Evans (read BSW’s Take 5), and the Show Hope Adoption Agency.  In the past she’s worked with Steven Curtis Chapman, Derek Webb, Jeremy Camp, and Nicole Nordeman—to name a few. Most days, Stacie shows up for work in her pj’s, but it’s OK because she works from home.  Because Stacie did such a fantastic job the first time around on that senior project of mine, I asked her to Take 5 with Backseat Writer.

I know that you’ve been working with Francesca Battistelli for a while now.  What’s it like for you to see her have such a successful debut album?

It’s super exciting! I’m not one to have that “A&R” ear–that talent that an A&R rep has, to know who’s really “got it” to be a successful artist. But at first listen to Francesca’s record, it’s a no-brainer. This girl’s got some great songs and a major set of lungs. She’s just good. She’s very talented for her young age and can write some amazing melodies and lyrics.  I knew when I first heard “Free to be Me” that I had to be part of the project and help to promote it to the media world! Plus, I’m a sucker for really talented female singer-songwriters. I think she has a very nice and long career ahead of her.

Why did you decide on a career in publicity?

It was offered to me and I couldn’t refuse. When I worked at a record label, I was working in the artist development and marketing department. I didn’t know where to go beyond that department after I’d been there a while, and someone on the staff thought of me when a publicity position became available. They gave me the chance and it was a perfect fit. I fell in love with it.

How do you go about promoting an artist that you don’t like personally or musically?

Now that I have my own PR firm I can be more selective in whom I represent. When I started Vining Media Relations at the beginning of  ‘08, I pretty much took anything I could, just to get the work and more experience. I had a great first year and now have been able to be a bit choosier. I don’t think it’s fair to work a project, be it PR, radio, marketing, etc., where you just don’t “get it.” It’s not fair to you or to the artist.

I want to always be ethical and honest in everything I do and with everyone I publicize. If I don’t “believe” or like the artist I’m doing press for, it’s just not right, in my opinion. I’d rather bow out of it and let someone else take it if they like it. I used to work at a record label and had a roster of artists that was given to me. I admit I didn’t like a couple of them–personally or musically. But at that time, it was my job and I just had to do it.

I would much rather work with one to two artists that I love and can talk about all day and make less money than to work with five or six that I just don’t get, even if the money is great. It’s all about believing in the artist and his or her music and ministry. If you don’t, then don’t work with them!

What’s on your desk at this moment? (Don’t clean it to answer this question!)

A lottery ticket that I was supposed to scan three days ago for my husband (that I haven’t scanned yet!), my calendar (I’m old-fashioned. I like to use a paper calendar rather than my Blackberry), my Blackberry, lotion (my hands always get dry), my landline phone, and my notebook with all of my notes and to-do list. Oh yeah…and there’s some old stickie-notes I just need to purge. And of course, my computer

What is one misconception that people have about your job that drives you crazy?

That they know publicity when they are not publicists!! Many people in the industry think that it’s sooo easy to get an artist coverage on TV or in a magazine or on a website. I admit it’s certainly not brain surgery, but it takes time and a lot of effort and continuous follow-ups to get your clients coverage. It’s really all about a handful of things that a lot of people don’t understand.

It’s about:
*Relationships–Relationships that you build with the media are so, so important. When you gain the trust of a media contact, they know they can count on you to deliver and vice versa. That goes a long way. You don’t want to burn any bridges; that’s for sure.

*Fitting the demographic of the media–When I pitch an artist that truly fits a media outlet, they tend to take notice and take me seriously. They know I’ve done my research and that the pitch “makes sense.” For example, it doesn’t make sense to pitch an artist that is Southern Gospel to a hard rock late night show. Make sure that when you pitch to an outlet, especially one that you haven’t worked with before, that the pitch makes sense.

*Talented artists! When you’ve got a great artist with some great songs and a great ministry (think of Francesca, and when I worked with Jeremy Camp, Steven Curtis and the like) then it’s just awesome. I love being able to pitch just really good artists who are the REAL DEAL, who are genuine.

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