It’s hard to find somebody that hasn’t heard of Justin Bieber. He was a YouTube sensation that rose to stardom and celebrity status. He fell in the public’s eye for a time, but has come back with more power and fame than he originally had. He’s a great example of adapting, changing and improving in order to be successful. PR professionals must do the same thing in order to succeed in their careers. Here are five lessons from Justin Bieber’s lyrics that will help you become more successful in public relations.
What Do You Mean? In this song, a girl is confusing Bieber and he wants her to clarify what she means when she does things. As a PR person, it is very important that you remain clear and transparent so your publics don’t have to wonder what you mean.
“Being transparent is the most important factor when communicating to customers.” The Effective Communication Index 2014 by agency MHP Communications found that “85 percent of global consumers see honesty and transparency as crucial if an organization is to communicate effectively,” said PR Moment.
It is important that you are transparent with the good, as well as the bad. Malaysian Airlines is a great example of what not to do. In fact, it made Inc.’s list of top PR fails in 2014 because of its actions. One of its airplanes disappeared and it remained quiet on the matter. Loved ones of those that disappeared were outraged by the company’s lack of transparency and communication. It made a tragic situation even worse. The airline could have saved its reputation by providing up to date information and complete transparency throughout the crisis. However, due to its awful response, the airline’s stock ended up plummeting and it has been working to rebrand and rebuild its image.
When preparing a speech, post or any form of communication for your publics, ask yourself: “When they receive this, will they ask ‘What do you mean?’” If the answer is yes, change your message; clarify it. Make sure you make the point you want to make. When possible, always be transparent. Even if it means showing your weaknesses or faults, be transparent. It will save you from even worse problems that will result from a lack of transparency.
Sorry. In this song, Bieber asks if it is too late for him to say sorry. He understands it is important to say sorry and he learns the hard way that timing plays an important part in that. When it comes to crisis management, don’t be afraid to say sorry. Once again, being open is the best response.
“Ultimately, crisis management is designed to protect an organization and its stakeholders from threats and/or reduce the impact felt by threats,” said the Institute for PR.
Due to JetBlue’s ability to say sorry, it made Business Insider’s list of the top nine PR fiascos that management handled brilliantly. In 2007, JetBlue cancelled 1,000 flights in five days as a result of an ice storm. Customers were outraged. CEO David Neeleman responded quickly and effectively, in order to mitigate the threat and save the airline’s reputation.
“[Neeleman] never blamed the weather. He wrote a public letter of apology to JetBlue customers, introduced a customer’s bill of rights, and presented a detailed list-which included monetary compensation of what the company would do to help all the affected passengers,” said Business Insider.
JetBlue still experienced backlash, but in the following weeks, it was able to diffuse the situation by being public and straightforward. Neeleman appeared on YouTube, the Today Show, Letterman and Anderson Cooper. In all of these, he did not plead his case, but instead apologized for his company’s actions. It was able to save its reputation because of its transparency, quick response and ultimately, its ability to say sorry.
When it comes to saying sorry, don’t let your consumers have the chance to say, “It’s too late.” Admit your faults, act in a timely manner and make things right.
Purpose. In this song, Bieber sings to a girl that he says gives him purpose every day, in every way. In everything you do, and in every way, make sure you have purpose. Know your goals and make sure that every communication you have matches your purpose.
If you follow this rule, it will help you know which actions are appropriate to take.
Kit Kat is a great example of this. It responded very differently to a situation in 2010 than it did to a situation in 2016 because it focused on the purpose of its communications.
In 2010, Greenpeace attacked Kit Kat because it sourced palm oil from an Indonesian supplier that acted unsustainably. Greenpeace put out a video of an office worker biting off a Kit Kat bar that ended up being a bloody orangutan finger, as it was one of the many species the supplier’s actions threatened. On social media, people changed Kit Kat’s logo to “Killer.” It met with Greenpeace, worked to eliminate unsustainable production and changed its marketing and communication strategies, according to Financial Times.
Kit Kat understood the purpose of its actions were to mitigate the threat and protect its reputation. It responded accordingly and made sure that its actions matched this purpose. As a result, it saved its reputation and continues to be a popular and thriving company today.
In 2016, a college student’s Kit Kat was stolen out of his car. He posted a picture of the note left in his car by the robber. The note said he saw the unlocked car, took only the Kit Kat bar and that he was sorry. Kit Kat picked up the story and quickly responded by providing the college student with a carful of Kit Kats, 6,500 to be exact according to PR Daily.
In this instance, Kit Kat realized that it wasn’t dealing with a crisis; it took the opportunity to have some fun and gained media coverage as a result. It stayed true to its purpose and ended up having a great social media win.
Confident. In this song, Bieber talks about how a girl got his attention because she’s confident. In order for people to take you seriously, and in order for you get to people’s attention, you must be confident.
Lindsey Wing is the PR professional for GPS Capital Markets, the largest foreign exchange brokerage firm in the nation. She says that confidence is critical to her job.
“I have found that confidence is very important as I talk to professionals and try to market my company. When I call places like CNBC, The Wall Street Journal and others, they need to know that I am confident in the individuals that I am supplying them for their articles, segments, etc. I approach them with confidence, acting like they are lucky to book us and that confidence has worked well so far,” said Wing.
This confidence will help you in every aspect of your job. For example, public speaking can especially be frightening. The more confident you are, the more people will listen to you and take you seriously.
“The skill of public speaking takes planning, preparation and practice. Most of all, you need to be confident in your own personal brand,” said PR Speak.
Whether it is with pitching, public speaking or anything else you do, be confident. That confidence will gain people’s attention and help you become a more powerful PR professional.
Never say never. In this song, Bieber talks about the power of never saying never. He talks about how he will fight forever, get up when he’s knocked down and keep going forward. This is exactly what you need to do in public relations.
When you make a mistake, keep trying. Keep moving forward, even when it’s hard. Try new things.
“Just as communication evolves and the needs and preferences of our audience shifts, so should our practice of public relations,” said Forbes Contributor John Hall.
He explains that it’s important to stay on top of your game and ahead of your competitors. You do this by never saying never. Dare to be bold, different and fresh. As your publics continue to evolve, you must as well.
Apple is a great example of this. For Christmas this year, it released an ad about Frankenstein and Christmas. The message is one of inclusion, amidst the ever-growing turmoil currently in the U.S. Although the video is different from Apple’s usual ads, it is very effective. As Apple’s publics continue to evolve, it did as well. Five years ago, Apple probably didn’t think making a heartwarming ad about Frankenstein would be its most effective choice. However, their willingness to try new things, such as this ad, is what makes it a successful company and will continue to bring it success in the future.
Justin Bieber has had many chart topping hits. He continues to grow in popularity and success. As you apply these five PR lessons from his lyrics, you will as well. You may not become a worldwide super star, but you will become a better PR professional.