Any music enthusiast will know who Eddie Van Halen was. He was an American songwriter and musician who founded the Rock Band Van Halen in 1972 in Pasadena, California. This band consisted of himself, his brother Alex Van Halen, David Lee Roth, and Michael Anthony.
While Eddie played the guitar and was the main songwriter, his brother played the Drum. The lead singer David Lee Roth along with another vocalist Michael Anthony completed the band. The band’s reputation grew as it toured around venues in California and slowly built a huge fan base. The first album was released in 1978 and was ranked 19th on the Billboard music chart. The heavy metal, hard rock, and charisma of Eddie and his band ensured the group did not need any external PR assistance and became PR themselves for the band.
The PR Lessons
The group taught that the PR exercise was more of an engagement exercise than a broadcasting model. Whether it is public relations or the music business, originality is the key. It is an accepted practice for music artists to perform on songs done earlier by other artists. They add their spin or tweak the format, thus making it look original. Van Halen was known for their original tracks though they also did cover versions of earlier hit tracks.
The same approach is for PR campaigns. PR firms have their style and try their best to make a unique campaign. There are times when advertising campaigns have concepts that have been tested before. Still, if they are presented with a new flair and style, they are considered original.
The Van Halen group did not stop at hard rock and heavy metal. They diversified to pop music, and one of the songs, “Jumps,” was number one on the pop charts. This success was a lesson that one can be bold and not afraid to try out new things.
Pay Attention to Details
Van Halen was particular about details. They made an outlandish clause in the contract that stated “no Brown M&M.” This was done to ensure that the promotors read every word in the agreement and pay attention to every detail in the contract so that there are problems later. This was a test to check if the venues would also be subject to the minutest details while setting up. The learning from this is that for PR exercises the attention to detail is crucial for the client’s success. Inaccurate information or wrong spelling of words in press releases or any campaign would create a negative impact.
Van Halen adapted to the new generation of audience in the 90s after successfully rising to fame in the ’70s and ’80s. They changed their styles and rotated lead singers bringing in fresh faces. The band kept the group’s core values intact, dish out new songs, and increased the fan base.
The message from this approach was that every activity has a shelf-life ad one needs to evolve and grow. For pr firms, there cannot be a better example. No matter how successful a campaign has been earlier, they need fresh content for their clients to stay relevant. PR is not a one size fit all industry. If a campaign is not working into the scheme of things, it has to be changed, the way lead singer David Lee Roth and his successor Sammy Hagar were both replaced.
So once again, whether it is a music band or a PR firm, the idea is to stay relevant and fresh. Losing out on any deals may be a setback, but that is an opportunity to come back in a different format and stronger than before. After the death of the founder Eddie Van Halen in October 2020, the latest Van Halen news is that his son Wolfgang has declined to carry on the band Van Halen. However, there are plans from the existing team members to have a tribute concert in honor of Eddie Van Halen.