You must have an understanding of the importance of authenticity when it comes to human relationships. A publicist makes relationships regularly and when they are experienced with a strong sense of honesty, the relationships survive and thrive. Mike Gowen possess that understanding, and with over ten years of industry professionalism, he has created himself the new and electic PR firm, Milestone Publicity.
Gaining monumental experience with The Mitch Schneider Organization (MSO PR), Mike Gowen has approached the next milestone in his life with Milestone Publicity. A firm focused on client goals achievement by running well-executed campaigns in the modern music industry. One EDM had the pleasure to discuss the inspiration behind the California based firm, must know industry smarts, and life lessons with the public relations professional.
“Mike makes a confident career move”
One EDM: You are a very strong support system in your clients’ careers. Did you experience having similar support in your personal goals to be able to provide that for others? If so, who was, or who is your support system in your life? Is there anyone you would like to thank?
Mike Gowen: I would have to say my wife is my rock. She’s my biggest supporter; always encouraging me to push harder and accomplish the goals I set for myself. Also, there are close friends in the industry, artists, and others that also gave a lot of support in my decision to further my career and launch Milestone Publicity.
Any well established and operating PR firm has long term relationships with their clients. Has there ever been a time where you had to end a relationship with a client? If you haven’t, how would you approach something like that in the most professional way?
At the onset of a new client relationship, I aim to be transparent in the PR campaign’s strategy so my client and I are in synch. This way we have a mutual understanding of obtainable press coverage—while still reaching for the stars—and they don’t feel they were promised something that couldn’t be delivered. Relationships are everything in this business so I do my best to never burn a bridge. If I had to part ways with a client, I’d likely just continue my motto of transparency and let them know exactly what the issue is and why our working relationship needs to come to an end.
Coming from account executive at MSOPR to the president of your own business is an excellent leap. Did you have cold feet taking this major step?
I wouldn’t say I had cold feet in transitioning into the launch of Milestone Publicity, but there were some butterflies. Those are usually a good sign that you’re pushing yourself into a new chapter in life…something I felt ready for. For me, the timing was right.
When did it feel like the right time to move on? Has this been in the back of your mind or a plan of yours for some time now?
It was percolating for a bit and it was a matter of timing. I couldn’t up and leave in the middle of multiple client press campaigns so once the year was winding down and campaigns were coming to an end, it was an optimal time to transition.
Was it hard to say goodbye to your old position?
No, after nearly seven years with that company, I was ready for the next step in my career.
What have you learned from Mitch Schneider that you will never forget and take with you throughout the rest of your career?
A valuable lesson he taught me is that “things change, and then change again.” Something he always said when a client would move over to another PR firm. It’s business and it’s not personal. Over the years, I obtained many PR skills while working at MSO PR. Angela Moreno, a publicist who hired me to the company in 2012, taught me that you have to give everything you’ve got in the tank for a client.
Aaron Feterl, another publicist at the firm, indirectly taught me how to get on a phone and really spark a personal connection with the person on the other end of the line. Alex Greenberg, who is still at MSO, was another great mentor that taught the importance of relationships with the media and industry. Bari Lieberman was the director of tour press and nobody could pitch and deliver the way she did. I could go on and on!
You said it was time for career growth which birthed Milestone Publicity, but as you grow in your career, does it influence any growth personally and internally for Mike Gowen? Has this major change shined a light on parts of you that were maybe hidden or needing attention?
Wow, that’s a great question! It’s possible it has and I don’t yet recognize it in myself. I feel that I was already very strong-willed, determined and excited to grow in my career when I decided to launch my company. Has it made me grow on a personal level? I’m not sure. My five-month-old son has been a major catalyst for personal growth. Having a child will show you what truly matters in life. My wife and son are priority number one, Milestone Publicity comes second. I think understanding that is the personal growth you might be talking about.
Have you ever ran into a wall where you felt stuck and unsure of how to create a buzz for a client? Do you have any tricks up your sleeve that you trust will work for you during crunch time?
At the end of the day, after you’ve called on your strong relationships and you’re not getting the results you were hoping for, it comes down to the journalist’s taste towards the music. No matter how much you like your client’s music, the journalist, editors, producers and talent bookers have final say in what they want to say ‘yes’ to.
If an artist doesn’t see their expectations or results they are looking for who is to blame? Can you honestly say it was the “failing” publicist or does an artist have as much responsibility for their career as the publicist?
I feel that it’s the publicist’s responsibility to have transparent conversations with clients on expectations at the onset of a campaign. Have a clear conversation about goals, wish lists, etc…When you’re representing an artist, you give it all you’ve got and you strive to deliver a successful campaign and help elevate their awareness in the media.
You’ll be bringing your skill, experience, and knowledge of classic industry PR technique to the current and modern world of music. As the music industry changes how does Milestone plan to keep up with the ever-changing times?
Be openminded and don’t rest on your past successes. What worked during a campaign five years ago, won’t necessarily work in 2019. Be willing to adapt and embrace new technology and new communication platforms. Also, listen to people younger than you. How are they finding music? Blogs, podcasts, Spotify playlists, etc…As the industry changes, know your client’s audience better than your client does.
Where do you see marketing and PR heading in 2019? Not just for Milestone but for the field in general?
To me, I feel like people are looking for more substance. We’ve been moving so fast – almost reading just the headlines and then moving on to the next eye-catching meme in our feeds. It seems like the pendulum is swinging back to longer-form, deep-diving features. Get a client on Joe Rogan’s podcast, The Joe Rogan Experience, and they’ll chat for up to three hours. People are into this long form, conversation focused type of experience.
offer consulting services to new talent. Can an artist ever be its own publicist and have success doing it all on their own? Or is it something like “an attorney who represents himself has a fool for a client” sort of thing?
These days, journalist move from outlet-to-outlet very frequently so it’s very time consumptive to keep all your contact information up to date. The landscape of what a publicist does continues to grow. We pitch print, online, podcasts, TV, performance sessions, social media takeovers, etc…can you imagine an artist trying to tackle all of this and be creative at the same time? It doesn’t seem to me they can, one area is going to lack and it shouldn’t be their creative side!
Do a publicist and a client having a friendship or family relation hurt business or help it?
It certainly can, money and family don’t mix well in my opinion. Again, to sound like a broken record, you have to have transparent conversations about realistic and obtainable goals to eliminate any potential sticky situations. I have friends that are current clients – The Dryes. Some of the nicest, and talented, humans I’ve ever met and we have honest conversations about what we’re trying to achieve. Their star is rising fast so I’m honored to be representing them.
Besides giving your clients excellent service would you say you are providing them with more than hope but faith in obtaining their dreams?
I only take on clients I believe in and together we aim to make their dreams obtainable when it comes to publicity.
Has Milestone Publicity become a milestone for you in your journey? Or is this just the beginning of something really big?
Absolutely! It’s one of the many milestones in my life. I love what I do and there is no greater feeling than knowing you’re playing a small role in helping artists reach new milestones in their careers.
Ten years ago today if someone said “Mike you’ll have your own PR firm”, would you believe it?
No, and that’s the beauty of life. You keep saying ‘yes’ and opening doors to new adventures. Anything is possible!
For more information on Milestone publicity, visit milestonepublicity.com