The Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS) has selected Rock-it Promotions as its new PR agency of record for the Juno Awards.
Announced Tuesday, the selection comes following an extensive, board-mandated RFP process that started in December 2015. Prior to the RFP, Holmes PR had served as the PR agency for the Juno Awards for 15 years.
The new partnership will see Rock-it handle all public relations for The Junos, as well as supporting the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, which is set to open a physical space within Studio Bell’s National Music Centre next summer. Strut Entertainment will continue to handle PR for CARAS’ music charity, Music Counts.
CARAS president and CEO Allan Reid said the organization was eager to explore its options for a PR partner as it looks to grow the Juno brand beyond the annually broadcast award show. In recent years, the Juno Awards have shifted to an always-on content strategy with projects like the Vault Sessions, a series of performances CARAS has filmed with Canadian musicians.
Reid noted the selection came at a high point for Canadian music in terms of commercial success, noting acts like The Weeknd, Justin Bieber, Drake and Shawn Mendes have taken over the music charts both at home and abroad.
“Canadian artists have been, this year and over the past couple of years, dominating the charts globally,” Reid said. “It’s probably the most exciting time I’ve seen in Canadian music, other than the ’90s when Celine, Shania, Alanis and Sarah McLachlan were dominating the charts.”
Reid is also hoping Rock-it will connect CARAS with potential sponsors looking to foster their associations with music. TD, Google Play Music, Samsung, Tim Hortons, Holt Renfew and Volkswagen were all sponsors of the 2016 award show broadcast. The expansion of the Juno brand has also meant more integrated sponsorships, with social and digital content that lives beyond the broadcast and over-arching sponsorships of both the Juno Awards and other CARAS properties.
Rock-it Promotions president and founder Debra Goldblatt-Sadowski has a long history in the music industry. The publicist started her career representing artists such as Dragonette singer Martina Sorbara and Joydrop’s Tara Slone. In more recent years, Rock-it has provided PR services to an array of music-related clients including the record label Arts & Crafts, the musician Feist, the music festival Field Trip and the Festival Music House at the Toronto International Film Festival.
“Deb’s been around for a long time and has a good connection to the arts and entertainment scene in this country,” Reid said, adding, “[Rock-it] brought some very interesting concepts to us and ways to approach not just how we’re dealing with our industry and the media, but how we can further engage with brands as well.”
Speaking about the Juno Awards, Goldblatt-Sadowski said, “We felt we could help elevate something that’s really well-loved; that our team could bring some fresh perspective and some out-of-the-box thinking that will push the envelope for them.”
As for the approach to PR, Goldblat-Sadowski said there are plans to beef up influencer relations for the Juno Awards and to expand the press outreach beyond the music press to pitch lifestyle, fashion and business stories about the award show.
The Juno Awards attracted 1.7 million cumulative viewers on CTV this April; a 3% bump over the previous year. The property also managed to buck the trend of young viewers eschewing appointment viewing and increased its viewership among the 18 to 24-year-old demographic by 42% year-over-year thanks to youth-skewing nominees and performers like The Weeknd and Alessia Cara.