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Lewis Webster & Edward Bruce: How Blackspire Partners’ music industry roots are reshaping PR & marketing

The agency provides essential guidance for artists and labels navigating a competitive industry

By Molly Peck

Black and white image of two men sitting on stools
Lewis Webster (Left) and Edward Bruce (Image: Blackspire Partners)

In the ever-evolving world of PR and marketing, driven by rapid technological advancements and shifting consumer behaviours, businesses face the challenge of staying ahead. Digital platforms, social media, and data analytics are reshaping traditional strategies. Lewis Webster and Edward Bruce of Blackspire Partners demonstrate that establishing and securing brand authority is more crucial than ever in this dynamic environment.

Before founding Blackspire Partners, Lewis Webster and Edward Bruce made significant strides in the music industry as executives. Their journey began with collaborations with various powerhouses such as Boiler Room, Sony/RCA Records, and Red Bull, marking their names in the industry. Edward, in particular, earned Gold and Platinum certifications in France and Belgium through artist management. This foundation in music not only honed their skills in identifying trends and talent but also set the stage for their innovative approach to PR and marketing, blending rhythmic creativity with strategic vision.

Transitioning from their notable success in the music industry to the forefront of public relations, Lewis Webster and Edward Bruce have positioned Blackspire Partners as a vanguard of modern PR strategies. The co-founders came together to share their unique insights and the visionary tactics that distinguish their agency in a competitive market, offering a beacon for companies searching for dynamic and effective PR guidance.

1 It’s 2024. If there are no guarantees, don’t sign!

Guarantees are the most essential thing any prospective PR or marketing agency client should expect. Without them, you should “run the other way”, Lewis says.

There are many different ways that guarantees can be a part of your contract with a PR or marketing firm:

  • ROAS (Return On Advertising Spend): Choose a firm with multiple case studies showing previous ROAS numbers achieved. If they have a lot of experience in your industry of delivering excellent results, they can sometimes offer a minimum multiplier following setup and refinement of their marketing methods. These indicate confidence in their marketing capabilities and your product.
  • Coverage Guarantees: We currently reside in the most interconnected age in human history. PR firms no longer have just one local newspaper or TV station to target for pitching stories; instead, countless media outlets are eager to share narratives. The ability of a PR firm to secure both quality and quantity of media coverage now relies on the firm’s expertise and proficiency. It is crucial to conduct thorough research – examine their track record with past clients, review their case studies, and note where they have been featured. As Lewis aptly notes, claiming no guarantees for any level of media coverage in 2024 is simply “a joke.”
  • Audience/Exposure: A more direct ‘assurance’, commonly linked with influencer marketing, is an expectation that any PR firm client should reasonably hold regarding the visibility of their story. It’s essential to assess the ‘AVE (advertising value equivalency),’ a metric that aligns the viewership of media coverage with the cost required to achieve the same exposure through alternative advertising channels, such as a TV ad. This evaluation aids in determining the value of PR for both you and your business.

Expanded Tip: Actively seek specific examples or case studies from the agency to demonstrate how they’ve successfully met guarantees in the past. This approach will give you a clear insight into their capabilities and reliability.

2 The Advantage of Full-Service Marketing:

Edward stresses the significant impact of a comprehensive marketing strategy. A multi-faceted approach will lead to more meaningful and measurable results than isolated marketing efforts, a service that Blackspire Partners proudly offers many clients.

Consider the following hypothetical:

Three unique companies exist: A, B and C.

Company A relies solely on PR for marketing, while Company B opts for Google ads. In contrast, Company C adopts a comprehensive approach by integrating Google ads and PR services. The results:

  • Company A achieves outstanding exposure and attains an abstract value of 5 through PR.
  • Company B’s Google ads perform well, delivering excellent results and generating an abstract value of 5.

One might expect Company C, leveraging both marketing channels, to achieve an anticipated abstract gain of 10 value, but that assumption needs to be corrected. Company C experiences a conceptual gain of (10 + x). Edward explains that this phenomenon is full-service marketing. Imagine a potential customer who becomes somewhat intrigued by a product’s advertisement; the instinct is to search for it online. Given Company C’s robust media presence, the potential customer initially encounters a glowing product review in the industry’s most prestigious publication associated with Company C. This additional gain of value ‘x’ is achieved through full-service marketing. You need to have as many touchpoints with your customers as possible. Each additional marketing channel supports and bolsters the next. It doesn’t stop at glowing product reviews to strengthen marketing campaigns; “there are countless other examples,” Edward remarks. You must ensure you increase your ‘x’ as much as possible to see the full returns on full-service marketing.

3 Results are everything:

Lewis and Edward emphasise the importance of seeing tangible outcomes from marketing investments. They advocate for transparent, results-oriented contracts without long-term lock-ins. Key considerations include:

  • Monthly Performance Metrics: Choose an agency that offers detailed monthly reports showing the progress and impact of their efforts.
  • Client Retention Rates: It stands to reason that a company that refuses to offer any contract term shorter than 12 months may be trying to lock you in because you would have left if you weren’t. “This is a red flag”, says Lewis, who believes that shorter-term contracts should always be available to clients.

In today’s fast-paced marketing world, selecting the right PR agency requires a careful and informed approach. Demand contractual guarantees to ensure accountability, consider the benefits of a full-service marketing approach for a synergistic brand impact and prioritise results-driven and transparent agencies in their performance metrics.

The unique blend of music industry savvy and marketing acumen that Lewis Webster and Edward Bruce bring to Blackspire Partners underscores the agency’s exceptional approach. Their history of creating resonant narratives and achieving measurable success across industries offers a compelling model for businesses aiming to amplify their presence. By aligning with partners who not only navigate but also shape the evolving landscape of public relations and marketing, your enterprise can secure sustained growth and a commanding brand authority, echoing the chart-topping successes of the past.

Stream Publishing was not involved in the creation of this content