An editorial piece by Ashley Monaghan
VisionaryLet’s talk PR strategies. The basic strategy involves formative research: analyzing the situation, the organization and the public. A team then creates an actual strategy including goals and objectives, formulating action and response strategies, and designing communication. Then the team selects communication tactics and implements the plan. This strategy is usually a success and can be altered in many different, creative ways.
If Beyoncé’s PR team followed this strategy, how was the release of her secret album different? Why was it such a success?
In this day and age, with everything becoming digital and every person under the age of 60 (and some above) integrating social media into their daily life—PR has a lot to do with hype
When a brand is developed and fully established, they have a specific voice and usually, a standard marketing plan to go along with their product. That marketing plan includes a lot of hype.
Hype is exceedingly used in the music industry. Marketing teams dramatize the release of an album up to six months beforehand with behind-the-scenes sneak peaks, song leakage, interviews and press releases. The hype is built and built until it’s release, where the album is released on many different music listening and downloading sites.
The fact that Beyoncé released the album without hype is only one of the reasons why her self-titled fifth album was such a success. The album was also specifically released on iTunes. You can’t get it anywhere else (legally). Those two factors, the surprise and the exclusivity, are two main components to Beyoncé’s success.
The Surprise: Because there wasn’t much publicity for the album, it was the public’s responsibility to spread the word. Beyoncé wanted to go back to a time where music was more appreciated. The release of an album was a huge deal—a family event, even. At midnight, the album was splattered all over iTunes and Facebook because anyone that heard about it freaked out in astonishment and confusion and just had to tell somebody! Also, surprises usually get people out of their stingy mindsets. Because its availability was such a surprise, buying the album on iTunes became an impulse purchase.
The Exclusivity: She created synthetic scarcity by distributing it only through iTunes. It topped charts as the fastest-selling album ever and sold more than 1 million copies in 5 days. She received more press because of the outrage of companies like Amazon and Target. They refused to sell physical copies of the album because of the preferential treatment given to Apple. The exclusivity was also unconventional and gave it a desirable factor, which made fans want to buy it even more.
Let’s get realistic. In the weeks prior to the release, news sites claimed that Beyoncé had changed the music industry and the album showed a shift in marketing strategies.
The only reason Beyoncé’s album release was a success is because she is already Beyoncé. She and her team have spent the past year marketing Beyoncé as a brand. She sang for the Super bowl, Pepsi, the inauguration, etc. Her social media accounts have followers by the millions, so the album was easily and quickly transmitted to her audience.
If anything, the release shows the triumph of social media.
The Upward Spiral Podcast did an interview with Beth Martinez of Danger Village, a PR company, and Alicia Yaffe of Spellbound Group, a marketing and brand management firm about the album release.
They said that before any major news sites got a chance to announce the release, it was already on iTunes and shared on Beyoncé’s Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. “30,000 of [her Instagram followers] bought the record within a few hours at midnight,” said Alicia Yaffe.
Beth agreed that Beyoncé’s brand was the main reason that the album sold. “It was brilliant,” she said. “I think that the proclamation that other people could repeat it just rings false to me.”
Like Beth said, this strategy will not work if a brand is not already established with dedicated followers.
Maybe we can take a lesson from the pop visionary. The album’s success does indicate that if you build yourself as a brand, your connections and followers will be interested in the work you produce.
Either way, in Beyoncé’s specific circumstances, the secret album release was an absolutely genius PR move. Also the fact that Beyoncé came up with the idea of the secret release herself further proves that she is #QUEEN.
All hail Beyoncé.
“Beyoncé’s fifth studio endeavor is a provocative, unguarded artistic statement—revealing a side of the icon previously unknown to fans and cementing her status as a pop