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Why Justin Bieber could work in PR

hollywoodAs a public relations professional working in the 21st century, I am reminded every day about the importance of combining traditional tactics with (the ever-growing in popularity) practices from the wonderful world of technology. Social media, search engine optimization and big data analysis—to name a few—are not going away any time soon, but many of us in the marcom industry still have a lot to learn when it comes to integrating these strategies into our campaigns.

Recently, I’ve been taking advice from my friends in Hollywood. You might not believe it, but megastars like Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift have some genius marketing tricks up their sleeves. Let’s take a look at their most recent album launches.

Taylor_Swift_-_1989Both artists took the social media world by storm when announcing their latest albums. Swift hyped 1989—which sold 1.287 million copies in its first week—months before its release, by manipulating the marketing and PR surrounding it. By announcing 1989 exclusively on a Yahoo! livestream, she turned herself into a gatekeeper and created her own media coverage instead of waiting on it. Following that announcement, Taylor carefully started publicizing the album little by little. Best of all, she did this in ways that were relevant to the most important audience—her fans. She posted handwritten lyrics to album tracks on Instagram, and released interviews explaining how and why she writes certain songs. She had #TS1989 and #5HoursUntilOutoftheWoods both trending worldwide, proving she knows what social media is capable of.

justinFast-forward a few months and we’re hit with another social media campaign: a month-long rollout of Justin Bieber’s “What Do You Mean?” The Biebs started a social media countdown 30 days before the single was released, posting a photo of Ryan Seacrest holding up a sign reading “Justin Bieber 30 days What Do You Mean?” Every day following that, Bieber posted a picture of a different famous friend promoting the song.

Switching gears to the fashion industry, even the Victoria’s Secret models can teach us some lessons in marketing: Since it debuted in 1995, the brand’s annual fashion show has turned into one of the most highly anticipated television events of the year, driving in an added $5 billion worth of sales. Victoria’s Secret calculated social media and event marketing practices have turned the brand into much more than a product.

Based on all of this scholarly research, I have come away with some important tips to get your message and brand out there. Some are tried-and-true while others may be new for you.

Know your audience.
Okay, this one is straight from the marketing bible, but it will always be important. You have to know exactly whom you’re selling to, whether it’s a product, a service or a behavior change. These days, it’s more than just where they live, how old they are and how much money they make. You really have to tap into what makes them them. Who do they trust? What do they do for fun? Where do they socialize? How do they consume content? You can’t move forward with any campaign until you know your audience as well as you know yourself.

Ask your friends to help.
Building strategic partnerships is a great way to promote your campaign. You’ll reach more people and find opportunities you may have otherwise missed. Though your “friends” may not have as much pull as Ryan Seacrest or Ellen DeGeneres, they can help you share your message, host events or hand out any collateral material—maybe even guest blog for you.

Don’t be afraid of social media.
Whether you like it or not, social networking sites are one of the best ways to reach certain audiences, particularly Millennials. Social media marketing can actually be fun! You can really engage with your followers and create custom content for them to share. Social media is also a great opportunity for integrating all of your campaign’s messages. Definitely tailor all of your postings to the theme of your campaign. Take a page out of the Taylor Swift marketing guide and even create your own hashtag!

Invest in production.
Most of us don’t have a celebrity’s budget to work with. But you should invest in producing the right campaign for your client. Invest in the messaging by determining how the “story” is told best, whether it’s words, photos or videos. Invest in making it better by listening to your audience. Is there traffic to the website? Are people sharing content online and showing up at events? If not, what should you change?

Thinking outside the box is becoming the norm in the world of marketing communications. You may not be a fan of any of these pop stars, but you can’t ignore their surprisingly successful tactics.

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