By: Anissa Gabbara
Is all publicity good publicity? While many people believe this to be true, there are some who believe that this statement is nothing more than a public relations myth. In the world of entertainment, it’s often believed that any degree of publicity is better than none at all, but not everyone knows how to bounce back from negative criticism. We often see celebrities break as a result of public backlash. Well, if you’re as clever as Beyoncé aka Queen Bey, you probably have a way of turning any negative situation into something positive, but it takes a well-established brand to know how to pull it off.
The mega star sparked controversy that began with the spontaneous release of her music video “Formation” in February, followed by her memorable performance at the Super Bowl 50 halftime show. The songstress received heavy backlash from those who were offended by what they perceived as an attack against police officers, when the intended message was designed to shed light on the Black Lives Matter movement. The backlash was so strong that police unions called for a Beyoncé boycott. So, what did the queen do in response to the harsh criticism?
Like the savvy business woman she is, Beyoncé decided to make light of the situation by selling “Boycott Beyoncé” T-shirts at her Formation World Tour that recently kicked off in Miami. The fans have been fully supportive of what seems to be Beyoncé’s boldest move yet, and the merchandise has already sparked conversation on social media, with numerous Instagram posts of people sporting the T-shirt.
The star is famous for her clever comebacks. In 2013, Beyoncé was accused of lip-syncing the “Star-Spangled Banner” at President Barack Obama’s inauguration ceremony. She responded with an Instagram post of her wearing a sweatshirt while rehearsing for her first Super Bowl performance that read: “Can I Live?” She also addressed the issue during a press conference days leading up to her Super Bowl performance, beginning with a live rendition of the national anthem, followed with the question, “Any questions?”
Beyoncé is an artist who is in full control of her career and public image. The larger-than-life brand that she has established over the years is unbreakable, and she seems to have a great PR team behind her. Regardless of the way the public perceives her work, it’s evident that everything Beyoncé does is strategically planned and well-thought-out. When it comes to handling publicity, good or bad, any company or individual can take a few notes from Queen Bey.
- Have a strong message: If you want to generate buzz about a particular topic, you should have a strong message that you believe in. Even if the public criticizes you for it, you’ll know that you did it for the right reasons, not solely for the publicity.
- Focus on your target audience: Every message you put out there should be centered on your target audience because those are the people who will probably be the most affected by it.
- Be prepared for criticism: Once the message is sent, prepare yourself for criticism, because it’s inevitable. The more you’re prepared, the more effectively you can respond to the critics.
- Your response is everything: Of course, any backlash is going to call for different responses, but if you can take a negative and turn it into a positive, it may work in your favor and the public will never forget it.
- Reputation matters: Whatever message you are sending to the public, keep your reputation in mind. How do you want to be remembered? Will the message make or break your reputation? Whether the public’s response is good or bad, will you be OK with your decision in the end? These are all good questions to think about.
Anissa Gabbara is a senior at Eastern Michigan University studying public relations with a double minor in communications and marketing. She currently serves as the Vice President of Public Relations in EMU’s PRSSA Chapter. She has an interest in celebrity PR and hopes to one day work with some of the biggest names and corporations in the entertainment world. She plans to hone her craft while becoming a valuable source of information to others. You can follow her on Twitter @AnissaGabbara.