In a move that stunned just about everyone, Beyoncé surprised us last Friday with the (unanticipated) release of her fifth studio album, “Beyoncé” – announced in a video posted to Instagram. Free from the typical publicity machine surrounding new albums, “Beyoncé” seemed to come from the ether, straight from its star to her fans and complete with 14 songs and 17 accompanying videos. The beauty (and irony) of this unconventional “anti-PR” play is the PR success it became in only a matter of hours.
Claiming she’s “bored” with the usual processes and that “there’s so much that gets between the music, the artist and the fans,” Bey uses a longer mini-documentary style video on her Facebook page to talk directly to supporters about her vision for the album. This genius approach is of course its own new PR strategy in and of itself, proving that immediacy and authenticity win the day in our “always-on” world. The numbers seem to agree. The album sparked 1.2 million tweets in the first 12 hours with influencers like Katy Perry weighing in: “Don’t talk to me today unless it’s about @Beyoncé THANX.” The team at DGC seems to agree too; we had listened to all 14 tracks twice by 11 a.m. on Friday (and an encore performance during Wine-O Friday later that day).
So what can brands take away from Beyoncé’s PR homerun?
- Be Real. By telling fans about the project directly in a video, showcasing home video footage and releasing all songs and videos in one fell swoop, Beyoncé sends the message that – even though she’s been a global pop sensation since her teen years – she’s still the everywoman. Just like you, she remembers the first time she saw MJ’s Thriller video. Just like you, she made goofy home movies with her besties. And just like you, she uses social media as her primary form of communication these days. Brands should take note; we live in an age of authenticity and consumers demand transparency.
- Give ‘em something to talk about. By not talking about the album via countless blogs and talk show interviews, Beyoncé balked the unconventional and gave people more to talk about. Successful brands keep people coming back by constantly giving their customers something new, something fresh. Something unexpected.
- Embrace multi-media. Beyoncé’s idea to create an album that goes beyond audio and includes a complementary visual experience is spot on. Not only does it position Beyoncé as a true artist — someone capable of creating a fully-baked concept — it gives fans more media elements to share, like and tweet. Content isn’t exactly a novel idea, but it’s important that the content entertains, enlightens or informs.