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Views from the top: The festival publicist (Nikki McNeill)

Global Publicity on the festival scene

A team of hardworking hedonists have put a Serbian dance festival on the map of international must-attend events

Who are you and what do you do?

We are Global Publicity, and I am Nikki McNeill! The festival season has started WE are never in one place for very long at this time of year as we do PR for music festivals, events and techno DJs, including Richie Hawtin and Dave Clarke.

Where do you do it?

We are based in London and Berlin, but often travel the world attending events we work on or gigs our DJs are playing at.

Why do you do it?

We love what we do and once the work is done we can always be found on the dance floor, where our passion for music first started.

What is your greatest achievement?

We have worked with the EXIT Festival for 11 years, which is such a special event considering it’s rooted in a student protest against the Milosevic regime.

A client since 2004, we have helped grow awareness of EXIT both in the UK and internationally, cementing its reputation as one of Europe’s leading music festivals with a unique history and location. Winning the highly coveted title of ‘Best Major Festival’ at the 2014 European Festival Awards reflects how EXIT has grown over the years, attracting a global audience of 2.5 million visitors from over 60 different countries. What was once a movement is now one of the most prestigious music events in the world, achieving recognition from media around the world.

What do you consider to be the biggest challenge coming up?

The biggest challenge is being a slave to your inbox. It’s great that so many media reply to the press releases and emails we send out, but then dealing with all those requests and not missing deadlines can be tough!

What’s the perennial problem that you face?

Mostly artists not wanting to do interviews at festivals, which in turn makes the events media partners unhappy and they need content to report on the festival, especially when it’s for radio or TV who have been planning and advertising shows about the festivals for months in advance.

What would make life easier?

Journalist having the guts to say ‘no this is not for us’ instead of ignoring emails and calls so you keep chasing them thinking there is a chance of them covering your artist or event. We are all adults, we’re not going to cry, we know not everything will be suitable all the time and we won’t take it personally.

Describe, briefly, how the job role has changed in the last ten years.

We now have to have all encompassing knowledge of digital developments too. PR is no longer limited to print, radio and TV, so our workload has increased and we have to keep up with trends. Clients expect a lot more from their PR person these days.

What makes a winning festival?

They need a unique selling point to attract an audience outside their own country. It’s also all about the experience and atmosphere, not just the acts you book. A festival with the biggest acts can have no atmosphere and the weather can be bad making for a miserable experience. Think about the atmosphere, the lighting, stage design. It’s also often the little things that make the difference and they are not always the most expensive.

What’s the best festival location?

The best place for electronic music is definitely the EXIT festival dance arena, which is a dried-out moat and makes a natural amphitheatre for 20,000 people. The atmosphere here is like no other place in the world and the fans don’t want to leave. They stay until 8am!

Eurosonic Noorderslag is hard to beat for checking out new bands as there are hundreds of amazing new artists playing in small intimate venues across the city of Groningen in the Netherlands.

For big headliners, I’d have to say the Positivus Festival in Latvia, as the crowd is so receptive to the artists and they really do go crazy, proving big is not always better.

This is #2 of 10 ‘views from the top’ appearing in PSNLive2016, PSNEurope’s 11th annual analysis of the European live sound industry.