Dayna Ghiraldi and her husband’s first date took place at a the Used and Thrice concert in Long Island, New York in 2003. Fourteen years later, on Nov. 8, 2017, she watched the Used perform again at Terminal 5 in New York City. Only this time, she did it as their publicist. “I know it sounds crazy, and every day I pinch myself and I’m like, ‘How is this my life?’” she asks.
Read more: 5 ways to make your band your business
Between those two concerts, Ghiraldi studied public relations in college, interned in the A&R department of Island Records and, most importantly, started Big Picture Media, a PR agency that works with nearly every artist you’ve ever loved, from the Wonder Years and Circa Survive, to PVRIS and New Found Glory. She was responsible for promoting Sum 41’s comeback album, 13 Voices, and granting singer Deryck Whibley’s wish of performing on Stephen Colbert.
[Ghiraldi with Sum 41 on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert]
“It was such a full-circle moment for him because he’s such a big fan. That entire day just meant so much,” she gushes. “And a couple weeks later, they sent me this—I mean, it’s the size of a wall—picture of me and Sum 41. It’s autographed and says, ‘To Dayna, you’re the best publicist in the world, we couldn’t have done it without you.’ It hangs on the wall of my office. It’s so expensive. It’s the nicest thing in my whole office.”
Big Picture Media celebrated 10 years in 2017. Inspired by her father, who was also an entrepreneur, Ghiraldi decided to start the company after being told by a boss she needed to be more aloof. The advice came when Ghiraldi came across the opportunity of working on Thrice’s frontman Dustin Kensrue’s first solo record, Please Come Home. “This is my favorite singer,” she says. “This is the whole reason I work in music; it’s because I love Thrice.”
They ended up bringing Kensrue in for a meeting. “I’ll never forget. I had ear-to-ear smiles, and I was myself. I was honest, and I talked about how big of a fan I was,” she explains. “When, he left, my boss said, ‘You’re not going to get the project [because] you wear your heart on your sleeve.’”
Ghiraldi wasn’t satisfied with the response: “That’s bullshit; that’s not who I am!” She couldn’t change her personality. After she ended up getting the project and booking Kensrue on David Letterman and Jay Leno, it was time to go and do her own thing.
She researched how to open a business, gave a two-month notice and started to create Big Picture Media at her kitchen table with her phone and her laptop. “I knew I had no ego and, if I failed, I’d just get a job, but I was going to die trying,” she reflects. “I worked as hard as I could, and I said ‘no’ to nothing.”
The main goal wasn’t getting to work with one specific label or artist, but to be true to herself: “I believed in what I wanted to do, which was to create a company that runs on passion and leadership.”
After all, it was her passion for music that started it all.“I have an older brother who’s about five years older, and he was always into music,” Ghiraldi says. “He was kinda goth, always going to shows, and I loved that.”
[Ghiraldi at her desk at BPM]
Then, that one friend showed up. You know the one, the kid who carried a Discman everywhere they went. In this case, it was a Goldfinger CD that changed everything. Then came other bands. “I just loved this pop punk, high-energy [that] gets you dancing, gets you moving. I always needed motivation to clean my room, and then I’d just throw on Green Day’s Kerplunk CDs and cassettes tapes,” Ghiraldi says. “Music truly made me happy. It sounds cliché, and it’s said a lot, but when I really needed to reset, when I needed a mood boost, I’d just put on Green Day. That made me so happy.”
Ten years in, the passion is still there. Ghiraldi talks about her bands affectionately, highlighting how lucky she is to work with who she describes as “such good people.”
And the feeling’s mutual.
While Ghiradi was working on Neck Deep’s album release this summer, her father had a heart attack and needed emergency open-heart surgery. She was in the hospital with him, so she told management she couldn’t accompany the band on interviews during that time. “They told the band, [who] reached out and started sending this outpour of messages,” she remembers. “It was so nice and, the day of Warped Tour here in Long Island, my dad was doing just fine.” He urged her to go and watch Neck Deep play: “When I got there and I saw the guys, they were so happy to see me, and they dedicated a song to my dad from the stage. I couldn’t believe [it]. It was 100 degrees, and I was covered in sweat and tears. I took a video and sent it to him. Later, I was on the phone telling him, and Fil [Thorpe-Evans] came up [and] FaceTimed with my dad. It was the most beautiful worlds-colliding moment that you could ever imagine.”
Afterward, Ghiraldi made her parents listen to The Peace And The Panic, especially “19 Seventy Sumthin’,” and the band gained two new fans.
[Ghiraldi walking Neck Deep to the 2017 APMAs red carpet]
“Fan” is not a word she uses to describe her employees, but it’s something that comes to mind when hiring someone, considering one of the questions on job interviews for Big Picture Media is, “What was the last show you went to?”
“I can train anyone; it’s important that you’re a good person, [and] you’re a team player,” Ghiraldi explains. “I never want to exploit what we’re doing. I want people to be here because they care about music. They want to dedicate their lives to helping others—that’s what we do.”
Big Picture Media currently has 13 people working in the office, all female—not because she sought women who work in the music industry, but because these interns and publicists are the right people in her eyes.
For people who want to follow her footsteps, her advice: “When you strip down all the layers, what is it that you love? Ask yourself: What makes me really happy? Whatever that answer is, explore more of it, and never stop chasing it until you are completely satisifed.”