Taylor Swift: PR Nightmare or Day Dream

Courtesy of billboard.com

I love Taylor Swift and I love public relations. Luckily for me, Taylor Swift is great at public relations.

Unless you live under a rock, you know that Taylor Swift is set to drop her new album “Reputation” in mid-November. What makes this album truly unique is her album release campaign.

In the past, Swift has mirrored almost everyone in the industry — Announced the album’s release upfront, worked through the singles, announced a tour and so on.

For “Reputation” she took an alternate route. Instead of announcing her new album or songs there was ‘the blackout.” With this, Swift wiped all of her social media pages clean. No profile picture, no likes, no tweets, no Facebook posts, NOTHING. Needless to say, fans freaked out.

From a social media management perspective, the objectives and tactics of her campaign were clear.

Objective: Garner media attention in preparation for singles, album and tour dates release.

It’s worth noting that prior to any “Reputation” tactic, Taylor had not been seen or featured in the media for anything. Subsequently, her absence from the media turned into a constant story of “where is she?”

Tactics: Since her absence from paparazzi photos was enough to get her constant media attention, doing something would very easily gain traction. The first tactic was the social media blackout which had two goals: spark curiosity and allow for a blank canvas for her next album. Days after the blackout, a series of three videos were posted featuring a snake. An allusion to a previous comment from Kim Kardashian-West about Taylor being a snake. This would also gain media attention specifically from celebrity gossip outlets.

Once all this media attention and focus had been created, it was important that it all translates into something. That something — album sales.

Objective: Translate media and fan focus into album sales.

Over the past few years album sales, across the board, have dropped due to streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music. Taylor Swift has made it clear that she is no friend of streaming services (or is she).

Tactics: Standard steps have been taken on the social media pages. Links are bio’s and in the caption of photo’s for a direct path to purchase music. What’s different is Swift’s, “Taylor Swift Tix Program with TicketMaster. Through the program, fans are rewarded with a better spot in line to buy concert tickets based on activities they participate in.

This ticket program has an array of benefits. First and foremost, anyone who purchases the album on iTunes is automatically signed up into the Tix program via email. Once inside the program the “tasks” have varying benefits. From the promotion of video views, which has helped her break records and can also translate into ad revenue for the artists, to the purchasing of artist merchandise. Landing earned media on fans personal Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts. All for one purpose, to buy concert tickets.

Beyond all of the above strategies the one that took me by surprise the most was the partnership with ESPN College Football. Taylor decided to release her single at the beginning of the college football season on ESPN. While the medium may not seem on brand, that may have been the point. Since the aware and active publics (fans) were already aware of a new single and were on the lookout for it, it made sense to launch in an area not previously explored. An area that also happened to include more than 12 million people.

Love her or hate her, Taylor Swift clearly has a handle on her public relations and uses it to her benefit. The real question is, Are You Ready For It?

Andrew Young is the 2017-2018 vice president of external affairs and a junior public relations major at Middle Tennessee State University. Follow him on Twitter @andjyou or connect with him on LinkedIn.

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