18th August 2017 – Blank Space.
A merciless Taylor Swift wipes her social media slate clean, with not an Instagram, Twitter or Tumblr post left unscathed.
Her fans are dumbstruck. Is she alright? Is she having some Britney-esque meltdown? Will she ever return?
Three days later, life returns to her Instagram in the form of a black snake. Then, a whole five days after the initial blackout, Album Number Six is confirmed with maximum hype, yet minimal PR effort.
Fancy being a publicity pro like Swift? These are the rules she stands by:
1. She NEVER forgets her audience
Swift is the queen of Generation Y and doesn’t she know it. Whether it be popping over to fans’ homes for surprise listening parties or sliding into the DMs of admirers to thank them for their support, she knows how to work both a real-life and virtual crowd.
Cannily, she’s also a pro at turning a gesture of kindness into great PR. When a fan ranted about her student loan repayment struggle on Tumblr, Swift responded with a cheque for $1,989 towards her education. As all Swifties will know, 1989 is the name of her fifth album.
2. She knows that less can be more
Let’s not pretend that Swift has got to where she is with a minimal publicity budget. That said, the simple act of deleting her social media content was enough to make global headlines.
When it comes to PR, you don’t always need a budget to rival the coffers of a celebrity to succeed. Some of the best campaigns are built on data that is in the public domain or obtained for free with a Freedom of Information request. Small businesses can be inspired by these budget PR stunts that have helped put local firms on the world map.
3. She lives by the motto “All PR is good PR”
Spend some time in the company of a PR practitioner, and you’re bound to hear the phrase “there’s no such publicity as bad publicity” slammed at some point. Okay, so bad publicity may have caused the deaths of some businesses (I’m looking at you, Bell Pottinger) but when it comes to celebrities, it’s a different story. Swift is infamous for her relationship disasters and celebrity feuds, but these have clearly had little effect on her popularity; she’s lying in sixth place overall on the Instagram follower rankings.
It isn’t impossible for brands to twist bad publicity into good publicity, as Go Compare showed in 2012. The company’s face, an annoying Italian opera singer called, er, Gio Compario, was so detested by the British public whenever his adverts appeared on TV, that they “killed” him off. The resulting defaced billboards and dramatic TV adverts enjoyed lots of social media attention.
4. She harnesses every social media platform she can
Swift is well aware that her fans are social media stalwarts and uses this to her advantage by engaging with as many of them as possible on as many platforms as possible. It’s clear to the average fan that it’s Swift herself rather than her management using the platforms, which boosts her authenticity.
Taking her passion to the next level, it has just been announced that she will be launching her own social media channel called The Swift Life. This has been done successfully by some brands, notably Nike with their Nike+ platform. There are no up-to-date members numbers, but in 2013 Fast Company reported that it boasted 18 million users. To put that into perspective, Pinterest had 70 million users and Etsy had 25 million!
5. She uses influencers of all levels to bolster her brand
If the hashtag #reputationsessions swamped your Twitter timeline last week, you know who to blame. Swift held a listening party with a hand-picked selection of British fans, who promptly spilt the beans about the experience on their social media.
A good PR campaign won’t just focus on those top-tier media outlets and household name bloggers. But also more niche industry publications and budding bloggers. If you need some influencer inspiration, GroupHigh sends out regular spreadsheets highlighting key bloggers and vloggers in a range of industries, from parenting to sport.
6. If all else fails, she knows the power of a cute pet!
Even her cat, Meredith, boasts 17,000 Instagram followers…
Worried about your brand’s digital PR strategy? Shake It Off and speak to our team to secure top-tier online coverage.