Unless your cell phone has been dead since November 12, you’ve probably heard something about Taylor Swift’s release of Red (Taylor’s Version). As a public relations professional, having your client drum up as much attention as this album release would be an absolute dream come true. I can only imagine what Swift’s PR team was thinking when they saw that brands have incorporated the country-turned-pop singer in their own marketing tactics, resulting in tons of earned media for Swift.
We’ve received months’ worth of easter eggs and promos from Swift, leaving her fans anxiously awaiting the album’s release. She left a trail of numbers for us to calculate the dates, created a website with anagrams to identify the tracklist and used her Instagram as another code to decipher. Like any successful brand should do, she teased the launch of her ground-breaking new product. On the weekend of the release, Swift herself appeared on Saturday Night Live, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and Late Night with Seth Meyers. Diving into the world of PR, you should earn some sort of award for getting your client a lineup like this one. Yet, Swift’s name does the work itself. An established performer for 15+ years now, most people associate Taylor Swift with “Love Story,” “Our Song,” “Shake it Off” and more.
Brands have been hopping on Twitter trends left and right to stay true to the times, so, it’s no surprise that they’re capitalizing on this rare moment of pop culture. Taylor’s PR reps must have been shocked by the reaction from big accounts all through social media. Starbucks introduced Taylor’s favorite drink to the menu — a caramel latte (Taylor’s Version), Sour Patch Kids took to Twitter to say good morning to everyone except Jake Gyllenhal, TikTok briefly changed its username to TikTok (Taylor’s Version) and more. She also received acclimates from CNN, Rolling Stone and Variety all detailing her album launch.
While most people will remember this moment as a time when Swift continued to rise above her former music producers, take back her music and re-share it with her fans, our PR brains will see this as an extremely successful campaign. The most long-awaited track, “All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (From the Vault) (Taylor’s Version),” earned 43 million views in one week on YouTube for the short film starring Dylan O’Brien and Sadie Sink. Red (Taylor’s Version) broke records (including her own) for the most-streamed album by a female artist in a day on Spotify with 90.8 million streams. These are some really strong results for a campaign if I say so myself.
Swift fans continue to sit tight while waiting for more re-recordings, including Speak Now (Taylor’s Version) and 1989 (Taylor’s Version), already placing bets on which is to come first and which artists will be featured. Will these two releases gain as much attention as Red (Taylor’s Version) or will Swifties hit a point where they lose interest? My guess is the first option, but we’ll have to wait and see.
Kimberly Hurd is a senior public relations student at the University of Florida. She’s a member of the UF Chapter of PRSSA and the PRSSA National Publications Subcommittee. Aside from PR, she sings in UF’s all-female a cappella group, The Sedoctaves. Connect with Kimberly on LinkedIn.