By Joy Landry
You don’t have to be a “Swifty” or even a pop music fan to appreciate Taylor Swift’s uncommon knack for spinning a negative story into a positive, even triumphant counterpunch. Just look at how well she handled Kanye West’s recent and very public “diss” of her success, as well as her identity as a musician and a woman.
Here’s a recap: Just before Valentine’s Day, West released his new song that featured a direct insult to Miss Swift, employing profanity and a misogynistic-theme to drive home his point. His lyrics created an uproar as friends and fans rushed to the pop star’s defense. West backpedaled with a flurry of tweets, trying in vain to justify his crude language and insults.
Meanwhile, Swift quietly bided her time for a few days and then used music’s greatest stage, the Grammy Awards, to issue her dignified, classy response. In a twist of irony, Swift chose her Album of the Year acceptance speech to respond to West, the very award he publicly coveted.
“There are going to be people along the way who will try to undercut your success, or take credit for your accomplishments or your fame,” Swift said. “But if you just focus on the work and you don't let those people sidetrack you, someday, when you get where you're going, you'll look around and you will know that it was you and the people who love you who put you there, and that will be the greatest feeling in the world.”
In one fell swoop, Swift put West in his place, reinforced her own brand and set a positive example for her fan base which is predominantly young women.
So how is this war of words between two musicians germane to public relations? Here are a few takeaways from Swift’s PR victory to consider:
- Don’t jump the gun and respond impulsively to negative press; you may throw fuel on the fire or appear unnecessarily defensive.
- Wait for the best opportunity to issue your response to maximize its impact and reach.
- Stay true to your message, your brand, your mission and your core values.
- For more on Swift’s penchant for PR, check out Is Taylor Swift the Best Person at PR? and Why Taylor Swift is a PR and Marketing Rock Star.