BPI represents the UK’s recorded music industry and organises the BRIT Awards show as well as Hyundai’s Mercury Prize and the Classic BRIT Awards show, We spoke to Gennaro Castaldo, Director of Communications at BPI about what his role entails on a day to day and the main skills needed to succeed in Communications.
What does your role entail on a day to day?
It’s quite a broad range, covering the implementation of a long term communications strategy, to managing and responding to a larger number of media and public enquiries. The BPI is the main trade association for UK record labels, with over 380 members, and so is responsible for a variety of industry activities that promote and protect British music. These include organising and putting on the BRIT Awards and Mercury Prize every year, whilst also co-owning the Official Charts Company. What we do in the BPI’s communications team therefore had to take place in this wider context. We also help to publicise our content protection measures aimed at encouraging people towards legal content online, as well as a range of services that we offer our members such as free training and overseas trade missions designed to boost their business prospects.
How did you land your current role at BPI?
I had worked in entertainment retail for nearly three decades prior to this role, but an opportunity presented itself nearly four years ago, and I found myself heading up the comms at the BPI.
What is the best thing about your job?
Meeting and working with a diverse range of incredibly talented and inspirational creative people who work across the music sector and creative industries generally. And also being able to work on the BRIT Awards and Mercury Prize.
What is the most challenging aspect of your role?
Mainly the heavy and intense workload – the cliché of too many things and not enough time to do it in, which can often lead to late nights and work over some weekends too. The biggest frustration is that it’s hard to stand back and really think about things strategically – so you tend to be too reactive. But it’s such a rewarding environment to work in that it helps to make it all worthwhile. A lot of professionals are in the same situation – it’s not always easy finding a work life balance. The key is to make your work a fun and fulfilling part of your life.
What other job roles do you work closely with at BPI?
Our events team who organise the BRITs and Mercury Prize, but also our research, legal and content protection departments. One area is that is very rewarding is our membership and overseas work, organising international trade missions and providing funding to British indie artists so they can build their fanbases outside of the UK through the Music Exports Growth Scheme, which the BPI manages.
What are the main skills needed to do your job?
In terms of approach, I’d say ideally five ‘P’s’ – Passion, Patience, Preparation, Principles and Perspective. It’s hard to stick to these all the time, but they should be the constants that guide you. In terms of skills, you obviously you need to be able to write well and to deadlines, cope with a pressured environment, and have an instinct for a good story (or possible issue) – seeing things from the point of view of the journalist.
What is your career highlight so far?
I have been privileged to work with many wonderful colleagues and industry associates, and in my former comms role working in retail I had the great fortune to meet some iconic artists – the likes of David Bowie, Michael Jackson, Dolly Parton, Paul McCartney and Richard Attenborough, to name a few. I have been very lucky, and it’s moment like these that help to make the hard work and long hours worthwhile.
What do you wish you knew about the industry before you secured your job?
What a brilliant question. I guess how much and how it was going to change.
What piece of advice would you give to anyone that wants to work in PR and Communications?
It’s important to remain courteous and to treat people with respect at all times. Always try to help people if you can – you never know when that favour may find its way back to you. If media consider you helpful, professional and reliable – they will come back to you more often than not, which is the name of the game if your job is to generate press for your organisation. Read up about an outstanding PR professional called Alan Edwards, who founded and heads up the Outside Organisation. He is an inspiration and founded the rulebook when it comes to PR and communications.