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5 Lessons PR’s Can Learn from Kim Kardashian

5 Lessons PR’s Can Learn from Kim Kardashian

 

Image Courtesy of Shop Pink Cherie, flickr.com

Image Courtesy of Shop Pink Cherie, flickr.com

It was not long ago that Kim Kardashian was a humble stylist to the stars. But look at her now; one of the worlds most recognised celebrity faces, wife to a millionaire rapper, star of her own reality TV show, fashion designer, businesswoman, model, actress and an international brand worth millions.

It doesn’t stop there.

The American socialite turned TV star now owns her very own clothing line, perfume range, jewellery collection, weight loss product line and a string of work out DVDs. She has starred in movies, graced hundreds of magazine covers, and taken part in some of the world’s most reputable retail endorsements; all contributing to an estimated net worth of $65 million.

This year the Californian entrepreneur even managed to land on Forbes’ Celebrity 100 list at #80, ahead of Oscar-winning actresses such as Meryl Streep, Gwyneth Paltrow and Natalie Portman and celebrated authors like Stephen King and J.K. Rowling.

So, what’s the secret to her success?

  1. Engagement

To date, Kim Kardashian has close to 25.4 million Twitter followers, 21.5 million Instagram followers and over 24.3 million Facebook fans. How? She engages.

Kim maintains a strong relationship with her fans through a continual stream of communication. By keeping her followers updated with what is happening in her life, she encourages them to revisit her social media profiles as loyal followers.

Forbes recently reported that a small component of Kim Kardashian’s income comes from social media. Like many celebrities, Kim makes a bundle of cash being paid by businesses and brands to tweet to her many fans and followers.

The greater the level of engagement, the bigger the fan base, the higher the number of endorsement requests, the larger the pay cheque. It couldn’t be simpler.

  1. Transparency

Any fan of Kim Kardashian will be familiar with the hit reality TV series ‘Keeping up with Kardashians’ – an American show starring Kim and the rest of the Kardashian clan which first aired on E! in 2007 and is now watched all over the world.

Image Courtesy of jamesjenkins1974, flickr.com

Image Courtesy of jamesjenkins1974, flickr.com

Part of the programme’s appeal is that the public can identify with the Kardashians and relate to their personal issues, despite their wealth and fame. From Khloe Kardashian’s divorce with NBA basketball player Lamar Odum, to Kim’s long line of failed relationships, and Rob Kardashian’s weight struggle, to the birth of Kourtney Kardashian’s son and daughter; fans of the reality show have enjoyed unlimited access into the Kardashians’ private lives.

The Kardashians are a transparent brand that don’t pretend to be anything other than themselves, working to make as much money as they can. Together they are worth over $80 million – living proof that the public are more likely to trust and engage with a brand who is honest and relatable, than those that are not.

  1. Immediate Action

Kim’s transparency has also helped her in situations where her reputation has been at risk. In times of trouble, she will immediately release a statement for the media and her fans to address a situation before it spins out of her control.

Image Courtesy of Claudia Flores J, flickr.com

Image Courtesy of Claudia Flores J, flickr.com

Remember the Turkish Cosmopolitan incident? In 2011 Kim appeared on the front cover of the Turkish edition of Cosmopolitan Magazine. Unfortunately for Kim, the front cover ran the same month as Armenian Remembrance Day, when Armenians remember Turkey’s genocide of the Armenian population during World War I. As Kim is Armenian, this sparked universal outrage.

After the magazine’s launch, Kim immediately shared the following statement with her fans and the media:

“When I did this shoot for the international covers I had no idea that Turkey was planning to run my story on their cover THIS month.

“My Armenian heritage means a lot to me and I’ve been brought up to be incredibly proud of my family’s background and culture so as an Armenian-American woman it is a huge honor for me to be on the first ever Armenian Cosmopolitan cover.”

“I have an amazing relationship with Cosmopolitan Magazine. World-over, Cosmo is known as a fun and inspiring magazine for women of all races, shapes, sizes, regardless of their political beliefs and I really hope that if I can bring awareness to the issue, then this is an accomplishment.”

  1. Brand Management

Whether you love her or hate her, most people will agree that Kim Kardashian markets herself and her brand commendably.

Kim is always ready to face the spotlight and is mindful that every appearance and interview reflects upon her brand. Renowned for her friendliness towards reporters, photographers, and even irritable paparazzi; Kim keeps the media on side, often agreeing to a photograph or a quick comment even when she is not working.

Besides coupling with a long list of highly-paid athletes and rappers, Kim also seeks out successful brands to attach her name to  (Sears, Sketchers, Bebe and Glu Mobile to name but a few!) Partnering with these successful businesses and brands have expanded Kim’s reach and amplified her reputation enormously – not to mention her annual income!

As of May 2014, the Kardashian queen ensured that her name will remain in the headlines for years to come by marrying millionaire rapper Kanye West in a typically lavish Italian ceremony.


  1. ‘There’s no such thing as bad publicity’

Our favourite PR catch-phrase couldn’t be truer if we journey back to Kim Kardashian’s rise to stardom. The Californian socialite shot to fame after a scandalous sex tape was released by Vivid Entertainment in 2007, after it was sold to them by her former boyfriend and rapper, Ray J.

While most people would have shied away from such an incident, Kim saw it as a business opportunity and faced the media head-on. Seven years later, and she’s a global megastar.

More recently, the 34-year-old star shocked fans when she chose to model nude for a ‘Break The Internet’ photo spread in the 2014 winter issue of the popular Australian publication, Paper Magazine.

Though scandalous, Kim’s nude images sparked debate on television shows and radio stations all over the globe, motivated millions of tweets and Instagram posts across social media, and generated coverage across newspapers, magazines and online titles worldwide.

5 Lessons PR's Can Learn from Kim Kardashian

 

Image Courtesy of Shop Pink Cherie, flickr.com

Image Courtesy of Shop Pink Cherie, flickr.com

It was not long ago that Kim Kardashian was a humble stylist to the stars. But look at her now; one of the worlds most recognised celebrity faces, wife to a millionaire rapper, star of her own reality TV show, fashion designer, businesswoman, model, actress and an international brand worth millions.

It doesn’t stop there.

The American socialite turned TV star now owns her very own clothing line, perfume range, jewellery collection, weight loss product line and a string of work out DVDs. She has starred in movies, graced hundreds of magazine covers, and taken part in some of the world’s most reputable retail endorsements; all contributing to an estimated net worth of $65 million.

This year the Californian entrepreneur even managed to land on Forbes’ Celebrity 100 list at #80, ahead of Oscar-winning actresses such as Meryl Streep, Gwyneth Paltrow and Natalie Portman, and celebrated authors like Stephen King and J.K. Rowling.

So, what’s the secret to her success?

  1. Engagement

To date, Kim Kardashian has close to 25.4 million twitter followers, 21.5 million Instagram followers and over 24.3 million Facebook fans. How? She engages.

Kim maintains a strong relationship with her fans through a continual stream of communication. By keeping her followers updated with what is happening in her life, she encourages them to revisit her social media profiles as loyal followers.

Forbes recently reported that a small component of Kim Kardashian’s income comes from social media. Like many celebrities, Kim makes a bundle of cash being paid by businesses and brands to tweet to her many fans and followers.

The greater the level of engagement, the bigger the fan base, the higher the number of endorsement requests, the larger the pay cheque. It couldn’t be simpler.

  1. Transparency

Any fan of Kim Kardashian will be familiar with the hit reality TV series ‘Keeping up with Kardashians’ – an American show starring Kim and the rest of the Kardashian clan which first aired on E! in 2007 and is now watched all over the world.

Image Courtesy of jamesjenkins1974, flickr.com

Image Courtesy of jamesjenkins1974, flickr.com

Part of the programme’s appeal is that the public can identify with the Kardashians and relate to their personal issues, despite their wealth and fame. From Khloe Kardashian’s divorce with NBA basketball player Lamar Odum, to Kim’s long line of failed relationships, and Rob Kardashians weight struggle, to the birth of Kourtney Kardashians son and daughter; fans of the reality show have enjoyed unlimited access into the Kardashians’ private lives.

The Kardashians are a transparent brand that don’t pretend to be anything other than themselves, working to make as much money as they can. Together they are worth over $80 million – living proof that the public are more likely to trust and engage with a brand who is honest and relatable, than those that are not.

  1. Immediate Action

Kim’s transparency has also helped her in situations where her reputation has been at risk. In times of trouble, she will immediately release a statement for the media and her fans to address a situation before it spins out of her control.

Image Courtesy of Claudia Flores J, flickr.com

Image Courtesy of Claudia Flores J, flickr.com

Remember the Turkish Cosmopolitan incident? In 2011 Kim appeared on the front cover of the Turkish edition of Cosmopolitan Magazine. Unfortunately for Kim, the front cover ran the same month as Armenian Remembrance Day, when Armenians remember Turkey’s genocide of the Armenian population during World War I. As Kim is Armenian, this sparked universal outrage.

After the magazines launch, Kim immediately shared the following statement with her fans and the media:

“When I did this shoot for the international covers I had no idea that Turkey was planning to run my story on their cover THIS month.

“My Armenian heritage means a lot to me and I’ve been brought up to be incredibly proud of my family’s background and culture so as an Armenian-American woman it is a huge honor for me to be on the first ever Armenian Cosmopolitan cover.”

“I have an amazing relationship with Cosmopolitan Magazine. World-over, Cosmo is known as a fun and inspiring magazine for women of all races, shapes, sizes, regardless of their political beliefs and I really hope that if I can bring awareness to the issue, then this in an accomplishment.”

  1. Brand Management

Whether you love her or hate her, most people will agree that Kim Kardashian markets herself and her brand commendably.

Kim is always ready to face the spotlight and is mindful that every appearance and interview reflects upon her brand. Renowned for her friendliness towards reporters, photographers, and even irritable paparazzi; Kim keeps the media on side, often agreeing to a photograph or a quick comment even when she is not working.

Besides coupling with a long list of highly-paid athletes and rappers, Kim also seeks out successful brands to attach her name to  (Sears, Sketchers, Bebe and Glu Mobile to name but a few!) Partnering with these successful businesses and brands has expanded Kim’s reach and amplified her reputation enormously – not to mention her annual income!

As of May 2014, the Kardashian queen ensured that her name will remain in the headlines for years to come by marrying millionaire rapper Kanye West in a typically lavish Italian ceremony.


  1. ‘There’s no such thing as bad publicity’

Our favourite PR catch-phrase couldn’t be truer if we journey back to Kim Kardashian’s rise to stardom. The Californian socialite shot to fame after a scandalous sex tape was released by Vivid Entertainment in 2007, after it was sold to them by her former boyfriend and rapper, Ray J.

While most people would have shied away from such an incident, Kim saw it as a business opportunity and faced the media head on. Seven years later, and she’s a global megastar.

More recently, the 34-year-old star shocked fans when she chose to model nude for a ‘Break The Internet’ photo spread in the 2014 winter issue of the popular Australian publication, Paper Magazine.

Though scandalous, Kim’s nude images sparked debate on television shows and radio stations all over the globe, motivated millions of tweets and Instagram posts across social media, and generated coverage across newspapers, magazines and online titles worldwide.

Julien Blanc and Katie Hopkins: Should we Feed the Trolls?

Internet trolls The PHA Group

‘Image courtesy of Eirik Solheim on Flickr’

 When Katie Hopkins offered support to ‘controversial pickup artist’ Julien Blanc, according to the Huffington Post, the story surprised no one.

 Seeming to cultivate her status as a professional troll, she responded to the polls calling for Blanc to be denied a visa with a roll of her metaphorical eyes and once again managed to command the attention of every media outlet poised for her next inflammatory comment.

Blanc, a Swiss-American who claims to be able to ‘game’ women so ‘hard’ that they ‘beg’ for his attention, has been called the ‘Most Hated Man In The World’ after a video of him choking a woman in Tokyo went viral and Australia gave him the boot. And despite an apology interview with CNN’s Chris Cuomo, shaking the reputation of a racist and sexually violent misogynist is likely to take some time.

Did Katie Hopkins help him at all? Probably not. If anything, it surely emphasises his unenviable position. Why shouldn’t the Most Hated Man In The World have the support of Britain’s Most Hated Woman?

But why don’t we look again at that tweet.

Accompanied by a photo of Blanc holding up a t-shirt, which has spawned almost as many headlines and hashtags as he has, Hopkins’ actual message seems to be: why is the UK afraid of a man who looks a lot like your average bloke about to go on a boozy holiday… and a lot less like the usual suspects who receive notice to ‘keep out of our country’.

And I don’t like to admit it, but there’s the distinct possibility Hopkins might have an actual, valid, and (dare I say it) meaningful point.

The vast power of social media is such that within days hundreds of thousands of people were signing up to keep Blanc’s ‘dating advice’ out of our country. There are two intriguing elements to this. The first is about the basic principles of free speech. The names on the sixteen-strong list of ‘banned persons’ from the Home Office belong to those ‘considered to be engaging in unacceptable behaviour by seeking to provoke, foment, glorify or justify terrorism’.

Thinking about what Hopkins posted, Julien Blanc doesn’t really fit into this category. Could the real question come down to freedom of speech? Can you really ban someone like Blanc on the basis of what he thinks?

What he reportedly offers is an insight into making men sexually attractive. What the media revealed was a young chauvinist teaching seminars in demeaning and assaulting women. Indubitably unpleasant, his seminars are, unquestionably, ‘offensive… inappropriate’ and ‘emotionally scarring’. But no crime has been officially committed here. As Andy J. Semotiak said in his Forbes article, ‘simply holding obnoxious views is insufficient to deny entry’.

Then the second point is this: would we have even have heard of Julien Blanc, would his name be as well known and his tactics as well publicised in the UK, if not for the heavy ‘no-platforming’ on the part of petitions desperate to keep him out?

A ‘no platform’, encapsulates the idea that certain viewpoints have zero right to be expressed in public debate, and was described in The New Statesman. Powered by the vast power of social media, this ‘no platform’ for Julien Blanc worked so that within days hundreds of thousands of people were signing up to keep his ‘seduction advice’ out of our country.

Does the success of the ‘no platform’ for Julien Blanc represent the power of the public voice? Does it suggest that we are stifling debate?

It doesn’t really make much difference.

Petitioning to keep him out gave him more attention and created a public profile through digital media that some people would pay for. The Guardian’s Marina Hyde certainly seems to agree, claiming that ‘bans turn ranting clerics you’ve never heard of into ones you never stop hearing about’.

By lobbying against him, by creating a ‘no platform’, we essentially gave a little man with an even littler reputation a massive foothold in the all-important column inches of the media. We fed the troll. We created the troll.

Now it doesn’t matter if he can come into the UK or not. Because now when he wants to go around spewing advice or his deliberately provocative life skills, people are going to listen through any and every medium he employs. They might not agree. They might not think what he says has any merit. But they will listen.

This is precisely what we saw with Katie Hopkins, former Apprentice contestant and now professional ‘rent-a-gob’, Sun columnist, broadcaster and businesswoman. She made a name as someone with a sharp, often cruel tongue, usually appealing to some trending ‘whatever-ism’ of the day.

We gave her this platform though; we let her continue to post her many rancorous messages without censorship. Unlike Julien Blanc, for whom censorship has left him with the sole option of beaming in via Skype to talk to his British fans, Hopkins has been made to apologise a handful of times for offending people but almost always escapes further ridicule when she shrugs and tells the offendees it’s their fault for being offended.

She thrives because she trolls. And we let her.

She accepts and laughs at the outrage that she causes. And there’s always a small group somewhere accepting and laughing along with her.

Of course, there’s the slight question of whether Katie Hopkins is a traditional troll. She isn’t playing the ultimate devil’s advocate but equally, she isn’t spouting opinions just to make Internet users so angry that their bloodied fingers expire trying to type an equally vitriolic defence. She seems to actually mean what she says, rather than saying it for the sake of irking 90% of the population.

Some love her for it and it maybe there’s an argument for saying her voice actually makes some issues come into the public eye that would otherwise be hidden from view. But the media definitely feeds her and if anyone tried to take her offline, I’m sure there would be an outcry at those attempting to silence her voice.

My thought is that the media, particularly online and social media, complain about trolling and the spread of cyberbullying, but then it endorses or employs the same tactics when it suits them in vogue agenda.

Katie Hopkins has not empowered Katie Hopkins. Julien Blanc has not empowered Julien Blanc. The voice of shared media has.

Regardless of whether you think that Blanc should never hold a visa to the UK, or if you find Hopkins funny, multi-channel media has the power to make sure that Ice Buckets succeed, Comet-Landings disappear behind Kim Kardashian’s ginormous derrière, chauvinists become (un)popular icons, and trolls can stay beneath the crooked bridge, ready to gobble up any stray Billy-goats.

So I think this begs the question, and really the whole of this blog: should we feed the trolls?