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Personal PR: the lessons we can learn from Taylor Swift

Personal PR: the lessons we can learn from Taylor Swift

Love her or hate her, Taylor Swift is one of the biggest and most successful stars on the planet. Her fifth studio album, 1989, sold more copies in its opening week than any album in the previous 12 years, and made her the first and only act to have three albums sell more than one million copies in the opening week.

At last night’s Billboard Music Awards Swift took home eight awards including the coveted Top Hot Artist award, proving it’s hard to deny her talent.

Whilst not to everyone’s taste, there are some ‘personal PR’ lessons we could all learn from the modern-day Princess of Pop.

Appreciate the people who help get you to where you are

Swift knows that she has a lot to owe to her loyal fans, so she does things like throw pyjama parties at her apartment and send out personalised gifts to fans. She sent one fan a cheque for $1989 to contribute towards said fan’s student loan.

By acknowledging the people who are your biggest supporters, it means they will continue to support you through thick and thin and Swift has successfully built a profile for herself as the ‘nice girl of pop’.

“It’s really not difficult…Now I can afford to go shopping for Christmas presents for them and ship it across an ocean. I can go on Tumblr, I can find their blog, I can figure out all this information about them, have my web team email and say, “Hey, you seem like a great fan, do you mind giving us your address and we can send you some merch.” It’s not hard.”

Be a role model

Although being a popstar doesn’t necessarily mean you should have to act like a positive role model to kids across the world, it’s a role that Swift has embraced. Unlike fellow popstar Rhianna, who told Vogue: “They want me to be a role model just because of the life I lead. But no, I just want to make music. That’s it.” Swift on the other hand, just gets on with the fact that it’s all part of the wider package.

At a time when fellow popstars such as Miley Cyrus dominate the papers for being controversial, Swift’s positive role model behaviour only gains her more respect.

“You have to be conscious of that. If you’re choosing to put out music and be out there in the public, you have to be conscious of the fact that you are a part of the raising of the next generation and you do have an impact on that.”

Stay strong in the face of criticism

Swift has dated some high-profile men in her time (including the likes of Jake Gyllenhaal, Harry Styles and John Mayer) and then uses those experiences as inspiration for her music. This is a common practice in the creative world – Sam Smith and Adele have both referenced their heartache as being the inspiration behind their massive top-selling hits, yet it’s always Swift that gets criticised as the ‘serial dater’.

Along with the fame and fortune of course comes continuous criticism, which Swift accepts and stays strong in spite of. Swift addresses the issues that irritate her but rises above it, by bringing back the subject matter to what she’s all about: her music.

“The most important thing for me is maintaining artistic integrity, which means as a songwriter I still continue to write about my life”.

Be yourself

At this year’s Grammy awards Swift danced like no one was watching and Pharrell was captured giving her what looked like a strong case of the evils. Headlines branded her as ‘The Worst Dancer EVER” but in true Swift style she kept her cool and didn’t let it phase her, proving that embracing who you are is the best way to beat criticism.

“I just don’t place much priority on looking cool…I think there’s this priority on having this persona of being edgy or cool or bored. And those things are all sexy. All those things are chic when you seem not to care about anything other than yourself. And I just don’t buy into it. I’m really excited by lots of things. I think enthusiasm is the best protection. It can protect you from anything.” 

Stay classy

Mindful that a large part of her audience falls under the age of 16, Swift behaves well in front of the camera, keeps her clothes on at concerts and doesn’t feel the need to use her sexuality as a form of art. All in all, she keeps it classy.

“Choose your outfits and your words and your actions carefully. I think it matters. I think it really does. You can pretend it doesn’t, but it does.”



Rihanna: Good Girl Gone Bad?

Image Courtesy of Portal NE10,

Image Courtesy of Portal NE10,

The CFDA (Council of Fashion Designers of America) awards took place this week to recognise the outstanding contributions to American fashion. Awards were given in categories such as Womenswear Designer of the Year, which was picked up by Joseph Altuzarra for his strong yet feminine collection and varied use of fabrics. Other awards included Accessories Designer of the Year and an International Award won by Raf Simons for Dior.

There was one award, and recipient, however, that kept everyone talking. The Fashion Icon award was presented by US Vogue Editor Anna Wintour and received by a rather naked Rihanna, who was wearing a custom-made dress by designer Adam Selman.

Receiving one of the fashion industry’s most coveted style prizes was always going to further boost Rihanna’s media exposure but it seems the focus of the night has been less on her award and more on her see-through dress!

Has Ri-Ri taken it one step too far this time?

For many social media channels and media outlets, such as the BBC, this display of well, everything, was considered massively inappropriate, especially as Rihanna is a style icon to all ages and an inspiration to children who love her music. She may have pulled off the dress but we think her public image may have taken a hit after this shocking fashion statement.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen controversy surrounding Rihanna.  Her raciness in recent months has been sure to keep her in the public eye, and unfortunately for the wrong reasons. In October last year, Rihanna’s music video for “Turn it Up” was banned within ten minutes of release and more recently the advertisements for her latest perfume ‘Rogue’ have been banned from areas with children.

Rihanna is known and loved for her provocative songs and persona but with her recent negative publicity, could she be on a downward spiral? Even her Instagram account has been deactivated after the upload of a topless photo. What could be next? We just hope that Rihanna’s decreasing media coverage won’t cause any long-lasting damage to her media and public profile because after all, she’s just a “good girl gone bad”.