Communication Strategy for Britney Spears

                   

From the beginning of her career, Britney Spears has been exposed to massive media attention, which at times has unfavorably diminished her reputation and successful career. Over the last three years, her questionable behavior received public scrutiny, and as a result, her “pop princess” image was diminished. As a rule of thumb in public relations, communication is the continuation of policy by other means. Corporate success is the goal, communication is the means of reaching it, and means can never be considered in isolation from their purposes. Furthermore, a PR professional is an anthropologist that understands their subject’s behavior, but in times of crisis, it is impossible to communicate one’s way out of a business problem before the roots of the cause are addressed. In other words, a PR campaign for Britney Spears cannot be performed to satisfactory standards unless there is determination and coup d’oeil on her behalf. Once that challenge is met, a communication campaign can help her focus on engaging effectively in response to her audience.

In between her personal battles which included getting divorced, losing physical custody of her children, attacking a paparazzi vehicle with an umbrella and getting checked into rehab centers on multiple occasions, Ms. Spears attempted to make a comeback in the music industry at the 2007 MTV Video Music Awards. Her appearance at the mentioned ceremony became one of the most talked-about televised song and dance routine, as it attracted worldwide attention which exceeded expectations. According to the BBC, “her performance would go down in the history books as being one of the worst to grace the MTV Awards”. Furthermore, she was placed under temporary co-conservatorship of her father and attorney in 2008, giving them complete control of her assets. Amid speculation that she has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, Ms. Spears was hospitalized and held for psychiatric evaluation on occasions notable to the world through the paparazzi lenses that have been documenting her life.

 A successful communication strategy is based on the constant imperative to seize and maintain the initiative. Only through initiative can an audience be influenced. In other words, a PR campaign for Ms. Spears must focus on achieving business objectives, finding an effective link between strategy and tactic, and deciding when, where and under what conditions to engage an audience in order to improve her reputation and standing in the society.

In November 2008, a distinguished PR strategy for Ms. Spears was implemented in the form of a documentary that aired on MTV. In “Britney: For the Record”, MTV followed the world’s most gossiped about megastar, through every step of her storied 2008 comeback. For the first time in her career, cameras were allowed access backstage at the VMAs, in her recording studio, and the viewer was captivated into the personal life of Ms. Spears, who openly spoke about her past and thoughts as she embarked for her return to the spotlight. In addition to promoting her new record in between scenes, Spears showed her vulnerability and made the audience feel guilty for being a voyer and watching her crazy life. The same celebrity who only a few months earlier was seen shaving her head, walking around without underwear and shoes was transformed into a caring mother, with a down-to-earth personality- a victim of tabloid hell and spoiled by the trapping of her own success.

In order to further restore the way Ms. Spears is perceived by the general public, implementation of cognitive policy is needed. Suggesting that she is a changed person will require creating a change in the brains of millions of people, and the way to achieve this would be through framing. Frames are mental structures triggered by language or images. When frames are triggered, worldviews that determine the interpretation of everything that follows are triggered. Therefore, creating messages about Ms. Spears that the audience will internalize must start with a frame that will serve as moral architecture of stakeholder decisions regarding the subject.

As previously mentioned, following her changed behavior, positive PR efforts can also shift her positioning in the eyes of audiences and the media. The biggest difficulty remains being faithful in action to the principles laid down, and the challenge to effective communication between Ms. Spears and the world is the illusion that it has already taken place. Being able to see things clearly will allow for a proper assessment of the situation, just as careful planning will result in effective action-taking. In other words, there is still hope.

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4 Comments »

  1. Sondra Said:

    It’s as if the public expects celebrities to rise and fall, and fans are there to encourage them to get back up again. So if Britney Spears follows communication guidance similar to what you suggest, there is no doubt in my mind that she can reinvent herself and take command of the stage again. The late Michael Jackson, Mariah Carey, and Martin Lawrence are just a few stars who faced personal battles and have still gone on to do well. If they can do it, I believe Britney has the same chance.

    • I agree. Britney just needs to take a breather and step out of the spotlight for a minute. She was so overexposed for such a long time that the public was suffering from Britney overload.

      With proper communication guidance — as well as guidance in other fields like mental health and finance — Britney can make a full on comeback. She just has to make sure she rehearses enough before staging a comeback like the MTV debacle.

  2. emilyblakem Said:

    First off, I think Britney needs to WANT help. For a long time, all she seemed to want was out of the spotlight. Which, for a while, I think she got away with. Maybe it’s because I changed my homepage from Perez Hilton, to WWD (ahhhh growing up….) but I haven’t heard much about her, or any messes she’s been causing lately.

    Her hissy fits and irrational behavior over the last few years, while entertaining, really didn’t have significant impact on her career. If she wants the spotlight, she gets it. Her last tour sold out in a matter of minutes, and was a huge hit. I believe she gets what she wants… but I for one, am glad I am not her publicist.

    PS. Wonder what K-Fed is up to these days?

  3. 7.It’s been a long 11 years in the spotlight for Britney. The moment “Baby One More Time,” hit MTV, she was an instant celebrity. Girls wanted to be her, guys wanted to do her. Raised in front of the camera since she was little, before her debut album Spears had already performed in a number of off-Broadway productions, and was a regular on the Mickey Mouse Club. She had such a clean all American image, and then she started to grow up. She started dating heart throb Justin Timberlake. She tried to maintain her squeaky image, but people wanted to know about the intimate details of their relationship. Her music videos began to embrace a sexier more provocative side in comparison to her more wholesome videos during the beginning of her career.

    She got married twice in 2004, first to a childhood friend in a Vegas style wedding which was then dissolved 55hours later; then to the infamous K-Fed. She (and ill say foolishly) choose to take a break in the height of her career to have children, but continues to release mix tape albums so to stay relevant within the pop music culture during her hiatus. This is when the height of the paparazzi craze engulfs her world, highlighting her personal and professional struggles for everyone to see.

    She is followed everywhere she goes and has primetime news networks reporting on her parenting skills. She was vilified on magazine covers and criticized by talk show hosts. After she divorces K-Fed and Spears ends up in her first of many trips to rehab. The judge in her custody case ordered her to undergo random drug and alcohol testing and to attend parenting counseling. Spears eventually lost physical custody of her children (in a legal system that favors the mother.) The downward spiral continued, she was implicated in a hit-and-run accident; she shaved her head in what seemed to be a narcotic induced rage and; her 2007 MTV VMA performance of “Gimme More,” was dubbed one of the worst public performance in history with critics commenting on everything from her singing and dancing, to her wardrobe. While all this was going on, she still managed to release another album.

    No matter what the train wreck is, Britney Spears has an uncanny ability to climb her way back to the top. Throughout all of her hardships, especially in the last few years, she has continued to make albums and tour the world. I will say she definitely has lost the squeaky star quality image that she had when she first got into the business, but she continues to weather the media storms. Perhaps Tiger Woods should take a page out of Britney’s book; when your down and out, focus on your work, and your work will speak louder than your personal blunders. I’m not sure if Britney has successfully outshined the ghosts of her past, but I do know she’s working on her next album.

    Have we moved on? Is Britney Spear’s drama over? I think that the scandals that surround her are something that her current communication strategy can not ignore (mostly because they are still ongoing.) I like the way that she has made her return slowly back into the mainstream, by doing guest appearances on shows like SNL or How I met your Mother, by building her fan base overseas, and by trying to stay off the tabloid magazine covers. But it will be hard for her to completely shake the image of her glazed over eyes after her freshly shaved, so i agree with you Sara. There is definitely a cognitive connection that must be broken before people can start seeing past what Britney has done, and start focusing on what she can achieve,


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