Five lessons PR pros can learn from Kim Kardashian
The old adage, “there’s no such thing as bad publicity,” doesn’t always hold true, especially in the new world order of social media.
A bad tweet or inappropriate “selfie” can destroy a reputation or seriously damage a brand. To navigate the treacherous waters of publicity today, it’s always good to look to those who do it well, and among many of today’s high-powered celebrities that do so, Kim Kardashian stands tall, figuratively speaking.
A few years ago, Kim Kardashian was a lowly “stylist to the stars.” Today, at 33 years of age, she is an international brand worth $40 million. She consistently appears on hundreds of magazine covers every year and has a media empire that includes her own clothing line, perfume and weight loss products. She has been the star of a successful reality show for more than six years, attracting up to three million viewers. She has close to 19 million followers on Twitter and 17 million “likes” on Facebook. She is also considered one of the highest paid reality TV personalities today.
How does she do it? And more importantly, what can you learn from her? Kim Kardashian follows these five basic rules of good public relations:
1. Nothing is ever off the record. Being Kim Kardashian is a 24/7 job and Kim never forgets it. Everything she does is calculated to promote the brand. Even her most “candid” selfies, which she posts to her millions of followers, are actually carefully staged to ensure she looks as physically perfect as possible, reflecting her brand as one of the most beautiful women in the world. You will never see her without makeup, wearing an ill-fitting article of clothing or baggy sweats, whether she’s just waking up in the morning, going for a dip in the pool, or getting back into shape after giving birth.
2. Always stay on message. Kim's message as one of the most beautiful and glamorous women in the world is reflected in everything she does and says. Every image of her and interview she gives show her at her most beautiful. Everything she wears, from the most casual piece of clothing to the most formal ensemble, is meticulously selected to accentuate her best features. Beautiful women make everything they wear look good and they look good in everything they wear.
3. Never give an opinion outside your area of expertise. One of the biggest pitfalls of many celebrities is the fact that they will give their opinions on subject matters that have nothing to do with their brand or their area of expertise, risking a public backlash or, at best, exposing themselves to ridicule. Kim only talks about Kim Kardashian and the Kardashian family. She never talks politics, business (except her own), world affairs or religion. If she has any views on these topics, she keeps them private, which is the way it should be
4. Associate yourself only with other brands that enhance your own. Kim only wears designer brands. She will never wear anything off-the-rack or from a discount store. Her clothing line may be called Kardashian Kollection for Sears, but it doesn’t mean she would ever wear anything made for that store, aside from her own brand.
5. If you make a mistake, immediately own it and take steps to correct it. Several years ago, Kim and her sisters lent their name to a new line of prepaid cards called The Kardashian Kard. It immediately faced backlash from business analysts, parents and the media, which condemned its exorbitant fees and the fact that advertising clearly targeted teenagers and the uneducated. The sisters withdrew their support three weeks after the card launched, following a warning from the Connecticut Attorney General that the card’s fees were “predatory.” They said they would not endorse a product that might be considered unlawful. Their decisive action and clear acknowledgement of the problems with the card averted what could have been a long, drawn-out public scandal that could have irreparably damaged their brand and reputation.
For public relations professionals, there is a clear educational component to keeping up with this Kardashian.
Mario Almonte is a PR specialist and blogger at the Huffington Post.
Photo credit: Kim Kardashian via Shutterstock