What is the podcast?
This is an episode of the Pitching PR podcast by Pitch Graphic Design where the host, Lesley Luce, speaks to seasoned PR expert and CEO of Three Girls Media, Erika Taylor Montgomery, about the lessons that can be learned from none other than the Queen of R’n’B herself, Beyoncé.
During their conversation, Lesley and Erika talk about how PR experts can learn a lot from Beyoncé’s brand, especially from the drop of her self-titled 2013 album, “Beyoncé”.
During the middle of the night in 2013, “Beyoncé” dropped on iTunes with little to no hype around it. However, in just 3 days, close to one million albums sold, making it the fastest selling album in iTunes history. The launch depended solely on word of mouth as opposed to any type of marketing.
Having said that, iTunes promoted the album with three banners on their homepage, and had her back catalogue on the homepage also. This shows that despite the perceived lack of PR and marketing, there was a clear partnership between Beyoncé and iTunes.
When it comes to her brand, the simplicity and minimalist imagery found on the recent album art has become synonymous with Beyoncé’s work. Harnessing imagery is a big part of the Beyoncé brand, especially for announcements. Her famous photoshoot to announce her second pregnancy became the most liked picture on Instagram in 2017. When she and Jay Z accepted their Brit Award, they stood in front of a picture of Meghan Markle dressed as a queen which has become an iconic symbol of power for women of colour.
Why should you listen to this episode?
This podcast takes quite a niche angle to look out how to build a successful PR campaign – by analysing the tactics used by one of the best selling artists of all time.
It describes how Beyoncé transcends generations and cultures because of her ability to brand and rebrand, all while “keeping it simple” and “fresh”. Erika focuses on the principle of letting “the product or service speak for itself, and a loyal audience will follow”.
She also highlights how when it looks like absolutely no PR or marketing went on in the background, that’s generally when the most work was done – and this applies to the Beyoncé drop. As well as the aforementioned partnership with iTunes, the videos for the singles from the album premiered on Facebook. Due to the lack of marketing, a crisis management campaign would have had to have been drawn up just in case the secret midnight release flopped.
The importance of keeping it fresh and avoiding becoming stagnant in PR is a big part of this podcast, and how, if you have a client or are working with a public figure, it’s all about the spin and control of access.
Some of the things that Erika and Lesley say:
“Graphic designers might be tempted to create the craziest graphic to get attention, but something Beyoncé’s fan base latched onto was the clean design of her albums.”
“Be sure to keep your PR campaign fresh with unique ideas that are still classic and relatable.”
“When it looks like there’s no planning, that’s when there’s the most planning.”
“Let the product or service speak for itself & a loyal audience will follow.”
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