The Human Element: A Brand’s Secret Weapon

By Jacqueline Velasco
The Hoffman Agency, San Jose

Let’s face it; some of the industries our clients represent (and we PR professionals are tasked with publicizing) aren’t the most glamourous or interesting. However, when you are sourcing for stories and trying to figure out what will resonate best with the media and target audience, regardless of the industry, the human element can play a big part in what takes a story from good to great — and a brand from being liked to being loved.

So how exactly does the “human element” come into play? There is one celebrity (yes, celebrity) that proves that adding that human touch makes a world of difference for her brand: Taylor Swift.

Whether we’re fans or not, we PR professionals can learn a thing or two from this pop princess (and her PR team).

The following examines just some examples of Taylor showing her human side, the side the target audience can relate to, which has benefited her brand and has made for some great stories:

The knitted sweater: Sure, we all know Taylor is rich and can pretty much afford to wear anything she wants. However, at a recent concert in Denver, Taylor’s mom was handed a knitted sweater by one of the singer’s fans that took her eight months to make. That very night, Taylor took to Instagram wearing that very sweater proudly and called it her “everything,” The fan never expected Taylor to actually wear it, but that is just part of what makes her so great.

How are brands bringing their stories to life across social media and the web? The human element.

Friends with the enemy: Since the interruption of her 2009 VMAs acceptance speech by Kanye West, Taylor Swift has had a rocky relationship with the rapper. Yet, she has always shown such poise surrounding the rude altercation. Most recently, Taylor forgave the rapper at the 2015 Grammy Awards where she even presented him with his award — proving to her young (and old) fans that even celebrities can take the high road and give others second chances.

The gift of giving: Tis the season! With Taylor, it is all about her fans. While many celebs often say, “I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for my fans” — Taylor actually proves her gratitude in all sincerity. During last year’s holiday season, Taylor took her interactions with her fans to a whole new level. She took time from her busy schedule to essentially “cyberstalk” her biggest fans and find out everything about them – from their favorite activities, to what pets they had, and even their religion. She then used all of this personal information to shop and buy gifts that would mean something to each individual. She went so far as to provide a video of her doing all of the wrapping herself and writing heartfelt messages to go along with the packages sent. What a touching moment it was to see her fans receive the gifts — props to Taylor and her team on this one!

So when you are trying to figure out how best to tell a client story — take a moment and think — WWTD (What Would Taylor Do?)?

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