Interview With Publicist Chuck Whiting

 Located in Nashville, Tenn., Whiting Publicity & Promotions is an award-winning communications solution for businesses, organizations, professionals and artists. We asked Chuck a few questions about PR, how artists can use it, and how he suports the arts community.

1. What uniquely qualifies you to work with indie artists?

My background as a newspaper reporter, publicist, songwriter, educator and author has given me the opportunity to learn the PR trade while experiencing similar bumps and bruises… and successes.  I’m a down-to-earth “self-starter” who has built a multi-faceted PR firm from the ground up.  Although I’ve worked with a host of top recording acts and celebrities (especially during my days at Opryland), I have a passion for helping emerging and professional independent acts achieve their dreams.  I’m a team player who uses his talents to help foster the careers of artists of all kinds.  There’s no better feeling than landing a news story for a client or sharing in the success of an artist.

2. Why would an independent artist hire a publicist in the 1st place?

Since the emergence of social networking sites such as My Space, Facebook and Twitter, some indie acts have tended to put most of their promotional eggs in one basket.  Some social media promoters suggest that writing and distributing press releases and landing news coverage is a thing of the past, and that using the Associated Press Stylebook is a waste of time.  That couldn’t be further from the truth.  In fact, landing news and feature stories is more important than ever.  It’s true that “New Media” has become an invaluable tool for promotion, especially for community and fan building.  However, a true PR effort should cover “all” of the bases.  I can cite many examples where print and broadcast news exposure has had a life-changing impact on someone’s career.  A story that appears in a daily newspaper or prominent magazine will likely appear in the Internet search engines for years.  Anyone can buy advertising or post an announcement on Facebook.  Only the most astute artists are fortunate enough to land “credibility-building” news stories.  I’m often amazed by the poor quality of writing I receive from artists, even those at the professional level.  Artists need to remember that their press releases and bios are a reflection of them.  To land news coverage, it’s essential to receive individual PR training or hire a professional publicist who knows what’s newsworthy and how to present the information in a format that journalists can use.  As an example, please plug “The WannaBeatles” into google, and see what you find.

3. In your experience, in relation to a cd release, when should an artist bring a publicist into the picture?

With so many independent artists vying for media attention, it’s important to develop your PR plan/to-do list months in advance.  Keep in mind that some national magazines have three- to six-month lead times.  The Tennessean’s deadline for calendar submissions is at least 17 days.  A preliminary meeting with a publicist should occur “before” the artist or group enters the studio.   A professional PR game plan should consider aspects such as release date, music genre, theme, songs, producer, session players, copyright and street date.  To better your chances for exposure, its crucial to find the perfect angle (news hook) to help build news value and credibility.  A public event/celebration can add ammunition.

4. You work with all aspects of the arts. Is there a lot of opportunity for musical artists to work together with visual artists, galleries etc.?

An enthusiastic yes!  To be successful, indie acts need to look for every available professional opportunity.  I work to  provide exposure for artists of all kinds.  Cross-pollination can be very beneficial.  I’ve booked numerous musical artists for art gallery openings, hotel gigs, benefits and multi-arts events.  One handshake can result in a life-changing opportunity.  A calendar mention in The Tennessean can lead to a big story.  We succeed by pursuing available opportunities, receiving encouragement, and learning from others.  Some musical artists broaden their horizons (and media exposure) by becoming authors, visual artists, playwrights, screenwriters, etc.  The possibilities are unlimited.  But we need to get out there to make it happen.

5. You are also a songwriter. Are you still writing? What kind of music?

When I was a kid, I experienced a tug of war.  I began reading The Mobile (Ala.) Press Register at an early age.  The songwriting bug bit me around the same time.  When I wasn’t printing up a neighborhood newspaper or writing letters to the editor, I was banging out original tunes on an upright acoustic piano.  My mother played Broadway classics, and my father wrote and recorded country songs.  That’s probably why I write in all genres.  I spent my University of Alabama years pursuing a journalism degree by day and writing songs at Comer Hall at night.  Eventually, I realized I had to pursue both.  When I landed a PR job at Opryland in late 1985, I discovered the joy of working in both worlds.  I’ve won awards for both and received royalties for my song and book Project, “The Littlest Star”.  Although PR and education are my current “bread and butter”, songwriting and composing remain a very important aspect of my life and career.

6. You run a monthly songwriting night here in Nashville called ‘Tunesmithing’. What made you you start that?

I started “Tunesmithing” in 2003 to help foster the careers of emerging songwriters.  Initially, it was an in-the-round.  However, I felt solo spotlight performances might be a better way to bring out each artist’s material and personality.  That format has worked very well over the past few years.  The monthly event at Casablanca Café typically features up to three emerging acts and a hit songwriter to close.  We’ve added an “open mic” for newer writers.  It’s been exciting to watch songwriters receive encouragement, learn from their peers, and receive invaluable insights from the pros.

7. Tell us about your newsletter, ‘Music City Arts Update.’

The Music City Arts Update e-newsletter came out of the blue.  One day, while checking my e-mail messages, it dawned on me that artists (many of whom I know) needed help letting fellow artists and others know about their events and accomplishments.  I started by forwarding a simple announcement to around 100 fellow artists. It didn’t take long for artist submissions to start pouring in and for the MCAU address book to grow.  The newsletter, which is now online, features a wide range of arts news in categories such as the Arts, Music, Songwriting, Literature, Film, and Theater.  A special Artist Resources section keeps fellow artists abreast of career opportunities.  The web site also has been a good place to post photos from events such as “Tunesmithing” and “Arts on the Row”.  I’d love to do a similar arts newsletter for every major U.S. city.

About Chuck Whiting

Chuck Whiting is an award-winning publicist, educator, songwriter/composer and author.  A former newspaper reporter, he founded Whiting Publicity & Promotions in 1993.  His customers include songwriters, musical performers, authors, visual artists, art galleries, hotels, non-profit organizations, and businesses of all kinds.

Chuck also serves as editor of Music City Arts Update, a free, non-profit newsletter that provides much-needed exposure for emerging artists of all kinds.  The newsletter is posted weekly at

He has developed the “Publicizing Your Dream” seminar to show emerging artists, entrepreneurs and non-profits how to handle public relations, including the writing and distribution of press releases.  The seminar has been held in Tennessee and Virginia and aired internationally on the Internet.  Chuck also has spoken to groups such as SongU, Indie Connect, Nashville Songwriters Association International, the Songwriters Guild of America, and the Positive Music Association.  For more information about the seminar, visit

Chuck also is the founder of “Tunesmithing Off Music Row“, a monthly event that spotlights emerging and professional songwriters.  He also created “Arts on the Row“, an event providing exposure and networking opportunities for artists of all kinds.

Shine Time Books and Music, the book and music publishing arm of Whiting Publicity, provides promotional and logistical support for authors and performing artists of all kinds.  Chuck is the author and co-songwriter of “The Littlest Star: a musical story, a book and CD featuring performances by musical performers Margo Smith, Denny Jiosa and Conni Ellisor.  “The Littlest Star” single has received radio airplay in the U.S. and Europe.   He also has composed and recorded a dozen instrumentals for a piano album.  In 2010, Shine Time Books published the book “Wordabulous!: Celebrating the Positive Power of Words” by National Vocabulary Championship Coach of the Year Debbie Watts.

Also an educator, Chuck teaches journalism classes as an adjunct professor at Middle Tennessee State University and Volunteer State Community College.

Chuck began his career as a newspaper reporter for The Birmingham (Ala.) News and The Mobile (Ala.) Press Register.  After that, he served as the employee newsletter editor for the 11,000-employee Alabama Power Co.  He was the PR representative for the 3,000-room Gaylord Opryland Hotel for seven years.  His PR firm, Whiting Publicity & Promotions, celebrated its 15th year of operation in 2008.

Chuck’s company has served a wide range of customers.  Highlights include “One Kiss Café” (the musical), professional songwriter-author Lisa Aschmann, Oasis Hotel, National Vocabulary Championship Coach of the Year Debbie Watts (“Word Woman”), former Harlem Globetrotter Dr. “Jumpin’ Johnny” Kline, American Music Channel, Ed Haggard and The Love Drums, visual artist Camille Engel, hit songwriter Rand Bishop, singer-songwriter-speaker Joyce Rouse (Earth Mama), Grammy-winning producer-composer Dennis Scott (and The WannaBeatles), HA Gallery, visual artist Gail McDaniel, author Vinny Ribas, performing artist/speaker Donna Michael, author Candy Paull, and musical artist Nancy Moran.  He has worked with organizations such as the International Leadership Development Institute and the “Students & Friends of Gail McDaniel Award“.

He has received awards from the Public Relations Society of America, the International Association of Business Communicators, the Public Relations Council of Alabama, Sigma Delta Chi, and the Songwriters Guild of America.

Chuck holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in communication from the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa and a bachelor’s degree in music from the University of Alabama (UAB) in Birmingham.

For more information about Chuck, visit or