Posted on: January 5, 2024
Billions of dollars in profit. Millions of fans captivated by her concerts. In 2023, Taylor Swift has been everywhere, and her omnipresence provides valuable lessons for the entire public relations industry.
In PR, we dream of making our clients a hot commodity. We dream of sending consumers into a frenzy. We dream of going viral. Sometimes, dreams become realities, and that is the excitement of PR. With hard work and strategic execution, PR campaigns can truly change hearts and minds.
Swift’s success is essentially PR at its finest. Because of positive PR, the singer extraordinaire has become one of the most famous people on the planet. Whether you’re a Swiftie or not, the reasoning behind her success can be applied to other industries outside of entertainment and popular culture.
Lesson 1: Be Careful About Your Brand
Taylor Swift seems to understand that a personal brand is a promise, and her promise consists of being authentic and transparent with the public.
Case in point: Swift’s foray into football as the girlfriend of Travis Kelce and a new diehard fan of the Kansas City Chiefs. On NFL broadcasts, Swift doesn’t appear to put on a fake show for football fans. On the contrary, she comes across as just another fan, ingratiating herself with a totally new audience, but in the same old ways—authenticity and transparency. The visceral excitement of the NFL resonates with millions of fans, and Swift embodies that same energy.
Because Swift has allowed herself to be swept up in NFL fandom, she has conveyed a unique sense of humanity and even humility that many didn’t expect. She’s gone from the star attraction at sell-out concerts to just one of tens of thousands of fans at a given stadium, bringing her down to a more personal, relatable level. She has grown her own brand and even grown the brand of the NFL by bringing her audience to the Chiefs.
This is instructive for branding yourself or others: Your allies matter. Associations matter. So choose them carefully. If a local small-business owner advertises in a community newspaper, that shows interest in and respect for the local community. Similarly, if a statewide political candidate focuses more on small-town radio shows than national podcasts, that shows a certain level of appreciation for their neighbors.
When I put on an event for my own business, I try to find a warm, homey atmosphere that gives off a neighborhood feel. As a connector in my local community, it’s important to come across as community-oriented, and picking the right event locations reinforces that reality. It’s not just a perception.
Lesson 2: Put In The Work To Grow Your Brand
My prediction is that Swift’s star power will only grow in the coming months. She has not peaked, at least not yet. She is so beloved in large part because she is seen as giving back to her fans. She has not lost sight of the people who propelled her to stardom, and she seems to be singularly focused on keeping them satisfied. Her three-hour concerts are now the stuff of legend, but they speak to a star who has truly earned her legions of fans.
Swift’s work ethic is noticed by consumers across generations. She isn’t coasting, and people appreciate stars who put in the proverbial work. They are grateful for stars who don’t rest on their laurels and grow complacent, but rather keep rewarding those who were on the bandwagon from day one.
To demonstrate work ethic in PR or any other industry, it’s important to show others that you’re always “on standby.” People come to rely on you when you’re always there for them, and they keep coming back for more, especially clients. Even if it’s late at night or on a lazy Sunday, I am responsive via email, so my clients know that I’m constantly thinking about them. I don’t just think about them Monday through Friday; it’s a 24/7 way of doing business. Emails, phone calls and text messages can be used strategically to that effect.
Lesson 3: Never Lose Sight Of The End Consumer
Is the customer always right? Taylor Swift certainly seems to believe that, since she treats the customer to a true spectacle whenever she performs. That goes a long way in our world of virtual technology, where many people are longing for in-person interactions that create special memories. Swift understands that her Eras Tour shows leave people with those memories, and she performs each one like it’s her last.
Go above and beyond for your clients too. Treat them like your friends or family members—people who deserve your utmost attention. In addition to being extremely responsive via email, I always try to give 10% more than what clients expect. For example, if they want four to five talking points for an upcoming interview, I may share six or seven, just so they have more information to analyze. If they set a deadline of 3 p.m., I may meet it at 2 p.m., just to show how efficient I am. Of course, the work product still needs to pass the test, but try to show effectiveness and efficiency when exceeding expectations.
Whether you’re a grandfather or a teenage Swiftie, there is something to respect about Taylor Swift. And that’s why 2023 has been her year, with everyone else in second place.
Learn Taylor Swift’s lessons, apply them to PR and 2024 will be your year. If you take branding as seriously as she does for yourself and your clients, you will succeed. And the end consumer will notice too.
This article originally appeared on the Forbes Agency Council CommunityVoice in November 2023.