Nearly everything celebrities do comes under public scrutiny. Some celebrities abuse their media spotlights with scandals and bad behavior. Quite a few, however, take advantage of their public attention and make smart business decisions to further their careers.
Corporate PR representatives can learn a thing or two from PR strategies of celebrities. We’ve chosen five celebrities whose efforts serve as exemplary PR lessons.
Lesson #1: Tease fans to build excitement for major news and products. (Taylor Swift)
When Beyonce released a surprise album on iTunes overnight with no advertising, it generated tons of buzz. But not every brand has the social media following and media limelight of Beyonce.
Celebrities like Taylor Swift are generating buzz a different way: strategically releasing information and building buzz in the weeks leading up to the release. Swift has been dropping teases for her new album “1989” one song at a time, notifying her followers with Instagram photos like this one with the simple caption: “#outofthewoods #itunes #midnight”
The pop star has also made numerous media appearances in magazines and on talk shows, and invites her fans to listening parties at her houses across the country, called the #1989SecretSessions.
PR Lesson: don’t rely on a press release alone to deliver major news. Offering “sneak peeks” and “inside looks” to an upcoming launch can generate chatter about it and maximize the launch’s results.
Lesson #2: When you have a critical announcement affecting multiple stakeholders, release it through a trusted media source. (LeBron James)
When LeBron James became a free agent at the end of the NBA season, the nation eagerly waited to hear which team he would sign with. Instead of holding a massive press conference or party, James chose Sports Illustrated, a symbol of traditional sports media, to announce he was returning to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
James’ letter to Sports Illustrated was thoughtful, personal and real, and it proved to fans that returning home “goes above basketball.”
PR Lesson: while organizations tend to rush for the next “big thing” in press releases and announcements, James used of Sports Illustrated to get the word out. As PR News explains, it serves as a reminder to PR pros that important announcements often make the biggest impact when they’re released through a trusted media source.
Lesson #3: Let campaigns spread organically. (Banksy)
The pseudonymous graffiti artist from the U.K., famous for his political and satiric street art, announced last year that he would temporarily be taking his talents to New York. He didn’t use the media or relentless promotions to do so, however — he made a simply statement on his blog that his New York “residency” would begin in October.
PR Lesson: Promo messages can be effective, but only to a point. True virality is spread by word-of-mouth, not by messages pushed out by brands. Make content easily sharable and encourage your fans to tell their friends about the campaign.
Lesson #4: Study and learn from your competitors. (Nelson Mandela)
In his speech to remember the late Nelson Mandela, President Barack Obama said:
“Mandela taught us…the importance of reason and arguments; the need to study not only those you agree with, but those who you don’t…And he learned the language and customs of his oppressor so that one day he might better convey to them how their own freedom depending upon his.”
PR people often overlook the importance of understanding their competitors’ thought processes and programs, Sally O’Neill asserts in Lessons We Can Learn from Nelson Mandela. By monitoring competitors, organizations can learn their values, goals and strategies.
PR Lesson: If something is working for a competitor, it may work for your organization, too. Studying competitors can spark new ideas and provide a benchmark for success.
Lesson #5: Do well by doing good. (Miley Cyrus)
Over the past few years, Miley Cyrus’s image hasn’t exactly been squeaky clean. But her move at the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards forced people to see her as more than a controversial performer.
Cyrus won the award for video of the year and used her moment in the spotlight to shed light on the homeless youth epidemic in Los Angeles. She let a young homeless man accept her award, and his speech that urged people to visit Cyrus’ Facebook page to donate was extremely touching. Cyrus subsequently released a video after the awards show that spoke about her efforts to end youth homelessness.
PR Lesson: Organizations have a responsibility to help their community. Cause marketing campaigns and corporate social responsibility programs show audiences the values you have that extend beyond making profits. Doing well by doing good can boost your brand’s reputation significantly.
Bottom line: PR can learn a thing or two from celebrities with a strong media presence. The next time your client or company plans a major announcement or product launch, consider employing some of the media tactics used by celebrities to generate buzz and good will.
This article originally appeared on the CyberAlert Blog.