Taylor Swift from a PR Perspective
Look what you made me do, Taylor (You made me write an article about how you are one of the biggest PR icons of our time)!
Taylor Swift might just be one of the most polarizing names of our generation. Since her first hit single, “Our Song” came out in 2006, we’ve watched Swift become the focal point of several social media-induced scandals, maneuver her way through the rocky dating world of the teenage and 20-something years, and we’ve listened as these exact experiences inspired her ever-honest and catchy music.
Love her or hate her, Swift has proven to be an influential success and PR icon—and today, the release of her seventh studio album entitled, Lover, is no different.
Swift is always looking to expand her target audience which is clear by how many sponsorships she has been a part of over the years. She has partnered with brands that are meaningful and accessible to her audience, like Amazon, Spotify, Apple Music, Diet Coke and Keds. Like any good PR persona should do, she continues to amplify her message, grow revenue and remain a prominent name in the public eye by undergoing these sponsorships.
Another key element to being a PR icon as big as TS is the established, purposeful and strategic presence of social media. Swift has always had a large social media following and that is why it came as such a shock when she cleared her accounts, deleting all content and photos off of her Twitter and Instagram, in the wake of her sexual assault trial against David Mueller in August of 2017. She later began posting teaser clips for her then-upcoming album, Reputation.
Swift now uses the platforms to post teaser photos and videos for Lover, share pictures with her close friends, celebrity and personal, and to communicate with her fans. On all of her accounts she follows no one, but garners 120 million followers on Instagram and 84.3 million followers on Twitter. These platforms allow her to push content not only for her music, but for the previously-mentioned sponsorships.
Social media has always affected Swift’s public image—for better or worse. From the Twitterverse going wild after getting interrupted by Kanye West during her acceptance speech at the 2009 VMA’s to him and his wife, Kim Kardashian, leaking a private phone conversation between him and Swift via snapchat, she certainly knows how it feels to be targeted by the people of the internet.
What is surprising about Swift is how she reacts with ferocity time and time again to these events. She is a prime example of how to react in crises and communicate to the public effectively and truthfully. She uses hate to her advantage; after the Kanye and Kim incident, thousands of Snake emojis appeared on her Twitter and Facebook timelines and in the comments of every one of her Instagram pictures. She then made the resilient reptile the symbol of her Reputation phase. Snakes popped up in her music videos, lyrics and she even had three fire-breathing, humongous metal snakes dancing behind her as part of her Reputation Stadium Tour set design. She also wrote, “Blank Space”, one of her most successful records, about how the media perpetuates the crazy-ex-girlfriend image given to her.
Swift’s ability to play into the jokes and comments being made about her to the point that she ends up profiting off of them has always astounded the public and kept fans and haters on their toes.
The last reason why Swift has earned her title of PR maven is simply because of how passionate and connected she is to the people who love her and associate with her brand. No matter how many times you’ve heard someone say, “I hate Taylor Swift,” she remains the world’s highest paid celebrity according to Forbes. Someone must be buying her music!
Behind the famous blonde locks and demure, red lipstick-painted smile lies an unwavering, overwhelmingly supportive fanbase that has always admired Swift for her ability to connect with them in the form of lyrics and country-turned-pop-synth beats.
Since her first album, Swift has been dedicated to making music a personal, immersive experience for her listeners. It’s not unlike her to write hidden messages in her album art, leave easter eggs in interviews about her new music, commision her favorite muralist to make a TS-themed mural for fans to appreciate, and, most famously, invite her fans into all six of her houses for free concerts.
Swift has mastered the art of being completely open with who she is by the way she makes music. This has left her vulnerable to constant media attention and speculation from the public, but it is also the reason why her fans adore her and why she has always been a force to be reckoned with in the music industry.
However you feel about Taylor Swift, it's only a matter of time before her next hit song gets stuck in your head.
This article was written by Paige Kunkel, Director of Diversity and Inclusion.