From the Intern Bullpen: Kanye, Taylor and Failed PR Planning

(Image courtesy of US Magazine)

Kanye West and Taylor Swift recently had another bout in their ongoing saga dating back to 2009 when West snatched a microphone from the hands of Taylor Swift during her acceptance speech at the 2009 MTV VMA awards. He then uttered one of his most infamous phrases to date: “I’ll let you finish but…” This celebrity dispute is a great case study on failed PR planning.

Fast-forward to February 2016, Kanye debuts the song “Famous” mentioning Swift in a not-so-positive manner. Loyal Kanye fans were quickly treated to a series of tweets addressing Swift’s approval of the lyrics in an hour-long phone conversation. ApparentlyTaylor’s PR team wasn’t aware of that conversation as they approved her bashing Kanye during a Grammy acceptance speech four days later. In June, Kim Kardashian, Kanye’s wife, gave a GQ interview mentioning the phone conversation was recorded. Swift’s camp suspiciously avoided the subject, and then Kardashian’s Snapchat of the recording appeared in July effectively wiping out Swift’s ability to play the victim.

In this case, Taylor’s PR team made the decision to respond to the song by verbally attacking West instead of letting the issue die out on its own because we all know Hollywood has a very short attention span (see Southern Reality shows).

When deciding to take a stance on an issue, great PR teams identify its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Taylor’s team may have decided against attacking Kanye had they weighed the opportunity to come out on top against the potential threats. Entering situations with a calm, collected mind is crucial to developing a plan that maintains credibility. It all goes to show that the right PR team can make all the difference.