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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.


Social Media and Institutional Investors: a “New-Born” Relationship


In his book The Credible Company, D’Aprix credits the most important upsides of technology innovation for communication professionals to be  the ability to deliver unfiltered news to employee public almost instantly and provide for a more democratic information exchange between leadership and employees. Furthermore, he elaborates on the usage of social media and the fact that it has provided its users with the ability to broadcast their views and ideas without the usual gatekeepers. In other words, everyone now has the capability to be both author and publisher.

An article by Chris Daniels published in PRWeek discusses the impact social media may have in decisions of institutional investors and analysts, and finds its role to be very limited. In other words, a recent poll of investors and sell-side analysts found that only 4% ranked “new media” as the top influencer when making investment decisions. However, this does not diminish the power and influence of new media among many constituencies. According to the previously mentioned survey, 58% stated that they believe new media will become increasingly important in helping them make investment decisions.  See full size image                                    

Acknowledging the power social  media has on today’s generation, and it’s potential impact on today’s organizations, it is of uttermost importance to be aware of the challenges it imposes on the communication profession. Information professionals are at challenge of determining how to use and manage information from social networking sites and deliver them properly to a skeptical audience of employees and investors. Undesputable is the recognition that technology has opened up a Pandora’s box and revolutionized the way we interact in corporations and the ways in which we will do business going forward. It has also raised expectations about the role of internal communication professional relating to effective information management and delivery.

Social media might not serve as a direct source investors and analysts turn to (after all, it doesn’t carry the same credibility as more traditional communication tools) but it is certainly becoming a stepping stone that initiates conversations and creates frames.