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Big Reputation: PR Tips and Tricks We Can Learn from Taylor Swift

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This is Taylor Swift’s world, and we are just living in it. The American pop singer continues to rise in fame with each new album launch and her rerecorded albums. Her “Eras Tour” in early 2023 and “The Eras Tour Film” in October of the same year pushed her popularity to soar even higher. Last December, Taylor Swift was officially named by TIME magazine as the “Person of the Year,” further cementing her status as an icon.

Of course many attribute her success to her talent in singing and her deeply relatable songs. But one cannot deny that a significant part of her success can also be credited to her – and her team’s – masterful PR and marketing skills.

Taylor Swift goes above and beyond in promoting her albums, merchandise and events. From sharing mysterious posts on her social media, spreading hints about her songs’ lyrics, releasing puzzles for the fans to making the grand reveal and the album release, Taylor knows exactly how to keep her fans at the edge of their seats while ensuring her strategies are new and fresh each time.

Here are a few tips we in PR can snatch from this marketing “Mastermind”:

“It’s you and me, that’s my whole world”: Know your audience
Anyone working in PR (and marketing) already knows this. Understanding your audience is the first and foremost PR (and marketing) rule. Any Taylor Swift fan — or Swiftie — can attest that no one knows the audiences the way Taylor Swift does. In fact, the singer once admitted that she keeps tabs on her fans online and follows their thoughts and opinions.

Excerpt from “Late Night with Seth Meyers”

The best example of this was the release of “All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor’s Version).” In one of her interviews, Taylor mentioned that this fan-favorite song was originally 10 minutes long. Since then, the fans would ask the singer for the original version every chance they get. In 2021, Taylor finally released the most-coveted song in “Red (Taylor’s Version).” Not only that! Knowing how much the fans love the song, Taylor also filmed and directed a short film with and about the song.

Taylor puts a lot of importance on what her fans think, which makes fans feel that they actually share an intimate relationship with her. Even if she knows she has the freedom over her art and what she chooses to put out, Taylor recognizes what her audiences want. And this is not because she knows that by giving them exactly what they want she would get more views, streams, reactions or purchases. It is because she wants to further strengthen her relationship with them.

But Taylor does not just give exactly what her fans want. She exceeds their expectations by giving more. Although Taylor does not do this with all of her fans’ requests, she gives plenty for them to be overjoyed with. In turn, Taylor receives their love, support and loyalty, which translates to millions of views, streams, engagements and purchases from anything she puts out.

It is this knowing one’s audience and catering to the demands and preferences of that audience that makes a lot of difference for Taylor’s brand. Establishing a relationship with a brand’s followers goes beyond sales: It builds the foundation for the brand’s market presence.

“Strategy sets the scene for the tale”: Keep them at the edge of their seats
Taylor veers away from the simple announce-and-release way of launching her albums and chooses to be theatrical about it.

The release of her album “Reputation” is definitely one for the books. After disappearing for one year from the public eye following the intense feud with Kanye West and Kim Kardashian, Taylor shared her very first social media post to end her long hiatus. The series of cryptic videos depicts a snake — a symbol that the opposing party used to mock her with. Five days after her post, Taylor unveiled the “Reputation” album art and followed it with another post with the message “FIRST SINGLE OUT TOMORROW NIGHT.”

And did the fans go wild.

Taylor released the single “Look What You Made Me Do” the following day and unsurprisingly, the song broke records. According to American music and entertainment magazine “Billboard,” the single scored the biggest weekly streaming and sales numbers for a single and became the most-streamed debut week by a female artist with 84.4 million streams.

If you’re aiming to build up hype for a product release, this strategy is worth some thought. Dropping hints instead of immediately making a direct announcement will definitely cause a stir among your audiences.

At the same time, timing is everything. The album might not have had the same impact if Taylor released it soon after all the backlash. Putting out something new might gain her more hate than support. Taylor opting to release “Reputation” at a time no one expected her to definitely added to the album’s success and gained the fans’ support.

“I come back stronger than a 90s trend”: Take advantage of your online platform
Taylor uses her social media presence strategically.

After making the announcement of her most recent album “Midnights” during the 2022 MTV awards, Taylor went to social media at…well, midnight to post more details about the album. Her first post was an emotionally in-depth overview of the “Midnights” concept. To build the momentum, Taylor continued on TikTok with “Midnights Mayhem,” a mini TikTok series consisting of 13 episodes in which Taylor uses a bingo-roller to announce the titles of her songs. The series garnered more than 86 million views in total.[1]


Midnights tracklist reveal!! Introducing: Midnights Mayhem with Me ???????? #TSmidnighTS #SwiftTok #MidnightsMayhemWithMe

♬ Midnights Mayhem episode 1 – Taylor Swift

Taylor shares interesting details about the album on her Instagram account. These include behind the scenes of the album conception, her personal thoughts on specific songs and details about the collaborations she’s made for the album. Days before the album release, Taylor shared a video showing a schedule of events that includes her TV appearances for interviews, music video premieres, exclusive merchandise releases and a “special very chaotic surprise” that the fans should look forward to. As expected, fans tuned in to all these events listed on the post.

The result?

“Midnights” broke record after record during the week of its release. It debuted with 1 billion global streams in its first week and received more than a million pure album sales in the US, a record previously held by “Reputation.” It also broke Spotify’s record for the largest album debut with more than 185 million streams. Taylor captured the entire top 10 on Billboard’s Hot 100 Chart.[2] These are just a few of the records the album managed to break.

The message here is pretty simple: Use and maximize your platforms wisely! Taylor knew social media is the best way to reach her audiences. So, she uses her platforms to share material that provides fans with a peek into her work and hints about her upcoming releases.

Social media is a great tool to use for creating excitement and setting audience expectations. The key is to create posts consistently to build anticipation but leave enough mystery to keep the audience wondering what’s to come.

“It’s a love story, baby just say ‘yes’”: Tell a story
Taylor’s songs depict the different experiences of a person in love and during a heartbreak. The universal truths she tries to share in the songs remind fans that there’s always a Taylor Swift song to describe exactly what one is going through.

By being vulnerable, authentic and wildly creative in her songs, Taylor Swift maximizes the art of storytelling, making her lyrics resonate even more. But it’s not only in her songwriting that Taylor crafts incredible stories. Her PR and marketing strategies likewise reveal effective narratives.

Whenever Taylor announces the release dates of rerecorded albums, she also includes a heartfelt message. In her announcement of “Speak Now (Taylor’s Version),” Taylor wrote: “The songs that came from this time in my life were marked by their brutal honesty, unfiltered diaristic confessions and wild wistfulness. [Speak Now] tells a tale of growing up, flailing, flying and crashing… and living to speak about it.”

Telling stories is not only useful but also important in PR. Stories help us connect with our audiences in a way that makes brands and companies more relatable and therefore accessible. When we achieve this, we earn the audience’s trust, which will then make them feel comfortable enough to share their own stories with us in return. When we understand the audiences and know their needs and preferences on a deeper level, we will be able to address their concerns in a more effective manner.

Storytelling has been from olden days the surefire way to make connections. It is how we connect today — the same way Taylor connects with her audiences by being open and true in the songs and messages she shares.

PR has always been a business of relationships after all. At the end of the day, our goal as PR practitioners is to forge and strengthen bonds through the stories that we tell and the strategies we create. The next time you need to come up with a campaign or a new creative strategy, consider a Taylor Swift song. Maybe you’ll create something that people will remember “All Too Well” (wink).



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