Lessons in PR with Kanye

By: Zachary Jones, Account Associate for the PA Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association

We have all seen them – Kanye West and his infamous tweets. From calling out Wiz Khalifa, to declaring debt and commanding businessmen and women to bail him out, it is safe to say a lot of us can agree with this Twitter user’s sentiment:

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On Feb. 2, I posted this tweet:

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As humorous as this tweet was meant to be, my tweet was out of genuine concern that he needed help. Ok, maybe it was a little more for the possible life-changing experience it would be to work for Yeezy. However, after analyzing the situation, I realized that he doesn’t actually need any help. These tweets are all an essential part of Kanye’s brand. It’s hard to believe, but here are three lessons we can learn from Kanye’s effective use of Twitter for PR:

1.Know your Audience

Kanye is a multiple award winning rap star. He has been in the industry for a long time and has some of the greatest hits of all time. He has an expansive fan base that spans kids from high school, to working class professionals who may know some of his older hits. He is a creative who refuses to be silenced by anyone, and his fans love him for that. To his fans, Kanye is honest and genuine, and tweets like Kanye’s only further cement their belief in him and define the brand.

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Due to his prominence, controversial tweets like Kanye’s will always garner media attention. For Kanye, this is an opportunity to reach outside his normal audience demographic and command the attention of everyone.

2. Timing in PR is essential

Timing is key in the field of public relations. Whether it is a crisis that must be addressed immediately, or a sudden event that a brand can benefit from, timing is essential.

Kanye knows this, and constantly proves unafraid to post his opinions immediately, disregarding what time of the day it is, or when will get the most coverage. While most artists will wait until the completion of their album or projects to announce it, Kanye almost always immediately posts about his projects. This has been extremely effective in drumming up excitement for releases that were months from completion, like he hopes to do with his next album.

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3. Control the conversation

For the public relations professional, it can be hard to get coverage in the news. When a professional does get coverage, it can be hard to control the reaction or discourse surrounding such coverage. Kanye knows that, and takes matters into his own hands. Traditionally, celebrities were the most candid in interviews with magazine outlets, but Kanye is not going to wait for the media to formulate the story for him, he is in control of the discourse. Bad coverage in the media? Kanye is there within seconds to correct any discrepancies, and steer the conversation back to what he views as important. For Kanye, control is everything.

It is only a matter of time until Kanye is at the center of another controversy, and when he is, take note, he may secretly be a master of our profession.

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