Founder / CEO
Years with Company: 13
Address: 195 Broadway, Suite 341, NY, NY 11211
Clients: American Authors, Sum 41, The Used, Naughty By Nature, The Eagles, Matisyahu, Peter Gabriel, All Time Low, Yanni, John Williams, Hans Zimmer, Pure Noise Records
Spurred by her love of pop-punk, Dayna Ghiraldi-Travers knew working in publicity was her destiny. Although not by design, her company, Big Picture Media, is staffed entirely by women. Recent service expansions include branding and management.
The Big Picture
I went to college on Long Island and was a PR major. There were no internships within the entertainment field at my university. There was a big binder to flip through and I remember being like, where are the record labels? Where are the music management companies?
At the time, I loved the band Thrice. They were on Island Records, so I applied there. A&R was what was offered, so I took it. I listened to submissions and really enjoyed it, but ultimately didn’t have that A&R ear. And it wasn’t really what I loved.
From there, I went to Nettwerk Management, because I loved Sum 41. I got to work on a lot of exciting things, but it also wasn’t what I went to school for. And then I got my first PR gig at a small agency that doesn’t exist anymore. I got to work on a lot of kids’ pop stuff, like The Gemz and Dream Street. Then I went to Press Here [Publicity] and worked there for a couple years. And then I left and started Big Picture.
We’re sort of the unsung heroes of the industry. Billboard is always pushing top A&R execs, top managers, top music lawyers… There are never publicists. We rarely get the credit we deserve, but we’re a huge part of each project.
The Female Factor
We have had male interns in the past. I’ve interviewed many different people for jobs, but ultimately it comes down to who is going to be the best. That’s regardless of gender or race or anything like that. I just need the right person in that seat. It’s worked out this way. My staff is incredible. We are an all-female, boutique PR agency, which is very rare. It’s not something we set out to do.
Katy Cooper, who has been with me for over four years, was promoted to Manager of Publicity and Business Development. Katy is going to open up an L.A. branch. In addition to that, Kirsten Horner has been promoted to Brand Advisor. We’re going to be offering different branding services—helping clients with their visual aesthetic, doing a complete social media audit, making sure the messaging that they’re putting out is cohesive, everything looks cool and that they’re presenting themselves in the best light. We’re offering digital marketing services. We’ve started working in the cannabis tech space. There are a lot of exciting things happening this year.
[Instead of] sitting back and letting this pandemic affect [us, we thought], how can we grow? How can we stay relevant? I was scared, but I was able to keep the entire staff employed. Nobody took a pay cut. No one got furloughed. We were even able to do promotions last year, just because we pivoted so quickly. Many of our projects went virtual and, without skipping a beat, we went in that direction.
Since the pandemic [started], we’ve opened up our internship globally. It’s been nice to be able to do that. Typically, they had to be in the office. But I got rid of the office in June because I was basically paying for our computers to sit there.
Once you do a good job with something and do right by your client, word spreads. We get emails [from] people who are like, “I’ve heard of Big Picture. Would you consider working in this space?” And we’re like, “Yeah, if it’s something we can connect with, we’re going to do it.”
We’ve worked with an upscale men’s watch company. We’ve worked on a coffee festival. Many different things. But it has to be something we connect with. If I get an email from a band and don’t see the potential or connect with it, I’ll send it to the team. I am not the be-all, end-all of knowing what’s cool. I want everyone else’s opinions.
Having a Story
We’ve had artists reach out who make great music but have no story. There’s nothing to separate them from the rest. Those are tricky clients. It’s not just about writing a good song anymore. It’s who are you as a person. What are your interests outside of music? What is your philanthropic passion? What is your voice?
We’re not going to work with you if you’re a jerk. It’s not worth it to us. If you’re a difficult person, that’s not something we’re ready to work with. We’ve worked with artists that have no managers, no agents, never played a show, but they’re awesome, kind and make good music.
We’ve worked with legendary rock band Kansas for over five years. We’ve worked with The Eagles. We’ve worked with Peter Gabriel, which is very different from The Wonder Years and John Carpenter’s Halloween soundtrack. Every single project starts with a fresh, clean slate. And we’re like, okay, who are you? What is it you’re looking for? And how can we help?
The way I was taught to do PR is to always think about angles. We spend so much time reading through lyrics and saying, what’s the angle here? Did this album help you get through a phase of depression? Did you write this as a cathartic healing process because you lost your father? We try to figure out what it is that they’re trying to say and pitch it that way. That sets us apart from other PR agencies. We’re not just servicing press releases. We are actually thinking of angles.
Cost and Service
Our rates start at around $2,500 per month, depending on client. Typically, we like a three-month project. That said, we are flexible. Our communication with clients is every single day. They get press reports every two weeks. At the end of every project, they get a quote fee document of all the press that’s run. And then they get a really nice PDF, which they can use for whatever they need.
My staff has free-reign to take on projects at either no fee or a lesser fee, as long as it doesn’t affect the paying clients and it’s something that is going to benefit the publicist and company as a whole. It’s always a case-by-case basis. There are certain times of year where we can be more flexible with rates or, if there’s a hole in the roster, we are more open to discussion.
Get To Know Writers
There are journalists on Twitter and Instagram and Facebook. Without coming off too aggressive or stalker-y, say, “I know that you’re into this type of music. No pressure, but check out our band.” It can be as casual as that. Do your best to get in front of the right people.
Working at different places has showed me what not to do. I’ve had bosses tell me, “You need to be more aloof and act like the publicist you are.” I can’t change who I am. I’m a genuine person. What you see is what you get. That’s kind of what we put forth to the clients and what I look for in my staff. We’re pleasurable to work with. We see ourselves as equals and want to make our clients happy. And that really is what clients are looking for.