The rumor that Hollywood is full of cutthroat people has some truth to it, but publicist Brian Bumbery doesn’t fit that bill. His charisma and positivity immediately floods any room he walks into, though it’s not an invitation to take advantage of him. After spending time over the years at various other companies in the industry, Bumbery created his own PR agency – BB Gun Press – which represents high status music clients such as Green Day, Metallica, and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros.
Despite his direct connections and immersion in the entertainment world, Bumbery hasn’t lost touch with his sense of decency. His genuine passion for helping artists craft their stories in a special way shines through the way he speaks and carries himself, and our Semester in L.A. class was lucky enough to get a behind-the-scenes look at Bumbery’s career, what he’s learned being in crazy world of PR, and his dream job in another life.
Q: Explain what your key roles are.
A: My role as a publicist… I feel that it changes so much because of technology. We use the media, which is the vehicle to get [the artists'] points across, but we also help them create the message in a way that they feel confident when they get out there. They’re creating music, film, sports, etc. and they look at the press as “Ooh, the bad guy,” but ultimately they’re not the bad guy – they’re gonna help you spread your word. I think the most important part is when you sit down with an artist and you help them articulate their story and broadcast them out.
Q: What types of artists do you represent?
A: All kinds. The Band Perry, Gerard Way, Muse. We also do corporate events with Citibank and Pandora. Really anything that moves us – we’ve worked with painters and sculptors. It’s more about if it draws you in and you love it, I’d work with it.
Q: What kind of mentality have you adapted from working in this business?
A: You have to have thick skin. You’re going to get told ‘no’ a lot more times than you’re going to get told yes. Don’t take it personally. And just be honest.
Q: If you weren’t a publicist, what would you want to be doing?
A: I would love to work in the Secret Service or the state department or be stationed overseas. I just love to travel, and I love meeting people and absorbing other cultures.
Q: How did you end up on the West Coast?
A: Ever since I was a little kid, something told me to move to California. It was something in my gut.
Q: Do you ever get starstruck anymore?
A: I’ve met enough [celebrities] where you just realize they’re normal people, and a lot of times, they’re nothing like what you see up on that stage. I don’t think I’ve ever felt that passionately about somebody as an artist, cause when you meet them, it’s like ‘eh.’
Q: Do you have a role model though?
A: Mmm… Lorraine [Ali, L.A. Times writer]! (laughs) She was one for me and I still do look up to Lorraine. She once said to me ‘write what you feel.’ When you’re writing pitch letters to people, you’re writing in hopes of them listening to music, watching a film, so writing what you feel – people can feel the sincerity in that. It definitely changed my life.
Q: And what’s some advice you would give to anyone looking to enter the industry?
A: The best advice someone gave me was ‘hire someone smarter than yourself,’ because you’ll learn a lot more from them and it’ll keep you on your toes.