Tag Archives: Taylor Swift

The Undeniable Marketing Lessons from Taylor Swift’s Focus on Fans

I was thinking about Taylor Swift over the weekend. Not so much about how I felt regarding her apparent budding romance with Kansas City tight end Travis Kelce after she was spotted watching the Chiefs game in a suite with Kelce’s mother on Sunday, though I’ll admit to being curious about what song she’ll end up writing about him someday.

Rather, as Swifties around the globe processed this dating news, I reflected on the immense connection she has with her fan base.

Taylor Swift fans buying merchandise

Photo credit: ezellhphotography/Shutterstock

About 15 years ago when I was programming a radio station in Raleigh, a colleague who worked at our Country sister station WQDR told me an anecdote about a relatively new artist named Taylor Swift.

After her concert at the local amphitheater, Swift held a meet and greet that included listeners and radio station staff, which in and of itself is not an unusual occurrence. What’s unusual, as I was told, was what came next.

“After the meet and greet, Taylor went to the back of her tour bus and wrote handwritten notes to every single person that was at that meet and greet, making specific mentions of something only that person would know. It may have been something they wore or something they talked about.” The notes would be mailed out to each attendee soon after the show.

I couldn’t have projected back then that Taylor Swift would become the megastar she is today, but it was the moment I realized Taylor might be the greatest marketer of any musical artist ever.

In 2020, I wrote about the marketing prowess of her perfectly timed Folklore album. The reality is, Taylor Swift just keeps doing it again and again, from the easter eggs she puts in album announcements to showing up at a fan’s engagement party.

The Eras Tour, which will almost certainly finish as the largest-grossing concert tour of all time, is a master class in marketing. Most artists would just change up their setlists and not tell anyone about it. Taylor Swift announces she’ll perform two surprise acoustic songs each night. Naturally, a Swiftie built a “Surprise Song Tracker.” There was the morning on which a fan posted via social media that her brother died five years to the day and asked if Taylor could play “Daylight” as the surprise song. Done. I’m not crying, you’re crying.

How many artists (and their teams) would care enough to notice that post?

We can’t borrow Taylor’s talent, but we certainly can heed her marketing lessons. When you do something important, don’t expect the audience to figure it out for themselves. Tell them. Tell them why it’s important. Make it an event and make it special.

And always…always…put your fans first. Taylor Swift is undeniably a talented Pop star. But it is her obsession with fan satisfaction, from handwritten notes to social media requests to engagement party pop-ins, that sent her from great to stratospheric.

How ChatGPT and Artificial Intelligence May Impact Media

If you haven’t yet heard about ChatGPT, let me be the first to let you in on the little tool creating all the buzz. Or…is this ChatGPT that’s telling you about all the buzz right now because I’m not actually writing this? Once you learn more about ChatGPT in this blog, that will make more sense to you and you can decide for yourself.

One thing is for certain. ChatGPT has wildly positive or negative implications for just about everyone on the planet.

How’s that for a teaser?

ChatGPT is a chatbot powered by Artificial Intelligence. How you feel about AI will likely drive your initial thoughts on the product. My son Ryan is taking a coding class at Columbia and completed an assignment over the weekend. Just for fun, after he finished his coding, he gave the same assignment to the ChatGPT bot.

It completed it correctly in 2.3 seconds.

The same task took Ryan six or seven hours.

Ryan went to his professor and showed both versions of his work, which inspired a lengthy discussion in class.

Imagine the implications of this thing on the teaching profession alone.

Right now, ChatGPT is offering the bot to try for free to show what it can do. Is it like Google or Alexa? In that it can prepare a custom shopping list and explain Newton’s laws of motion, sure. But if you ask Google or Alexa to write your term paper on US History in a sarcastic tone, and then ask it to expand on the Civil War parts and provide an alternate viewpoint, you won’t have something ready to turn in to a college professor. But with ChatGPT, you could.

So…how about the way media brands may use ChatGPT?

I asked the bot, “Write me a news report about the hottest new trends” and here’s what it wrote:

The hottest new trends for the season are starting to take shape, and there’s something for everyone.

In fashion, sustainability and comfort continue to be major themes. Brands are increasingly offering eco-friendly options, such as clothing made from recycled materials or natural fibers. Comfortable and practical clothing, such as loungewear and athleisure, are also gaining popularity as more people work from home.

In the beauty industry, natural and minimalistic looks are on the rise. This includes a focus on skincare and using fewer, but higher quality, products. The “no makeup” makeup look, which emphasizes a natural and youthful appearance, is also becoming more popular.

In terms of technology, virtual and augmented reality are gaining traction. Virtual reality headsets are becoming more affordable and accessible, allowing users to experience immersive entertainment and educational content. Augmented reality, which overlays digital information onto the real world, is being used in a variety of applications, from gaming to interior design.

Overall, these trends reflect a desire for more practical, sustainable, and natural products and experiences.

I asked the bot if it could make it longer.

“Sure, here is a longer version”

As we enter the new year, it’s time to take a look at the hottest trends that are shaping up for the season. From fashion and beauty to technology and entertainment, there’s something for everyone.

One of the biggest trends in fashion is the focus on sustainability and comfort. With more people working from home and looking for clothing that is practical and easy to wear, brands are offering more options in the loungewear and athleisure categories. In addition, there is a growing demand for eco-friendly clothing made from recycled materials or natural fibers, as consumers become more aware of the environmental impact of their fashion choices.

In the beauty industry, the minimalistic and natural look is becoming more popular. This includes a focus on skincare, with people using fewer, but higher quality, products to achieve a healthy and radiant complexion. The “no makeup” makeup look, which emphasizes a natural and youthful appearance, is also gaining traction. This trend reflects a desire for a more natural and low-maintenance beauty routine.

Technology is also seeing some exciting new developments. Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are becoming more mainstream, with VR headsets becoming more affordable and accessible. VR allows users to experience immersive entertainment and educational content, while AR overlays digital information onto the real world, offering a variety of applications, from gaming to interior design.

In the entertainment world, streaming services are continuing to dominate, with new content being released all the time. However, there is also a trend towards more interactive and social experiences, such as live-streamed concerts and virtual reality gaming.

Overall, these trends reflect a desire for more practical, sustainable, and natural products and experiences. Whether you’re looking to update your wardrobe, improve your beauty routine, or try out the latest tech, there are plenty of exciting options to choose from.

How long would it take someone in the newsroom to write this? (It took ChatGPT about five seconds).

There are already options to use AI for the narration, which will continue to improve.

As an aside, when I asked ChatGPT to write me a news report about Volodymyr Zelenskky, it glossed over the war with Russia and focused on peace talks. When I asked it to write a news report about Taylor Swift, it wrote about the release of Evermore, not her latest album. So, it’s certainly a work in progress.

Taylor Swift news

ChatGPT’s usefulness is a work in progress, as it referenced outdated Taylor Swift information when writing a news story. (Credit: Brian Friedman, Shutterstock)

Sounds Profitable’s Tom Webster wrote a piece on ChatGPT, positing how, despite the fears of AI replacing human jobs and the work they do, tools like ChatGPT can play an important role in helping humans do their work better.

Generally, I buy that. There are pretty cool implications for amplifying search for life hacks. Instead of Googling the generic “Questions to ask in a job interview,” I asked ChatGPT “What are good questions to ask an interviewer for a TV anchor job?”

Its response was impressively focused on the position:

  • Can you tell me more about the specific responsibilities and expectations for this position?
  • What is the company’s vision for this role, and how does it fit into the overall goals of the organization?
  • Can you provide more details about the team I would be working with and the support that would be available to me in this position?
  • What opportunities for professional development and growth are available for anchors at this company?
  • Can you tell me about the typical work schedule for anchors at this company?
  • What is the company’s approach to news coverage and storytelling, and how does this position fit into that approach?
  • How does this company support anchors in maintaining a work-life balance and managing the demands of this job?
  • Can you provide more information about the equipment and technology that anchors at this company use to produce their segments?
  • How does this company support anchors in staying current with industry trends and developments?
  • Can you tell me more about the opportunities for on-air and off-air collaboration with other members of the news team?

When we consider how it will change jobs in media, you can imagine how it could speed up show prep, help write commercial copy, and yes, write news stories.

But what we can never lose sight of is the personal human touch that can only come from a human’s tone of voice.

I asked ChatGPT to write a blog in the tone of Sam Milkman, and it told me “As a large language model trained by OpenAI, I don’t have the ability to write in the specific style of a specific person.”


AI tools like ChatGPT will disrupt our world. They will make your job easier in some ways, but have the potential to make us lazy and miss our very specific individual voices and attitude. So perhaps we should use it as a tool, but not the tool.

Back to the original question posed at the top of this blog. Did I even write it? Or did ChatGPT?

The answer: I did. I don’t think ChatGPT has the ability to write like someone on my level – ha ha.

At least, not yet.

Taylor Swift’s Brilliant Coronavirus Pivot

Tuesdays With Coleman

Brands around the world have been feverishly trying to figure out how to pivot during the age of COVID-19. How should we change our offerings? What tone of voice should we use? How should it look?

Enter the master of the moment, Taylor Swift.

Swift’s transition from Country darling to Pop superstar is well documented. From 2006-2010, she sold millions of albums and won countless awards with her sweet, melodic Pop Country sound. 2012’s Red was the transition album that led to 1989 two years later, her straight-ahead Pop album.

The releases of the three monster Pop albums in a five-year span–1989, Reputation and Lover–were lessons in large-scale, bombastic (and effective) marketing. Swift teased 1989 on social media in August 2014. She did a live stream. She teased the artwork. There were “secret” listening sessions in hotel rooms. Songs were “leaked” early.

There was no marketing let-up on Reputation or Lover, including more secret sessions, partnerships with UPS and Amazon, an exclusive playlist on Spotify, a new line of clothing and her own music festival, Lover Fest, which, until the pandemic derailed plans, was to play stadiums this summer.

Now, Taylor Swift has delivered a master class on how to pivot your brand in a crisis. In a world filled with marketing extremes–either brands running over-cliched ad campaigns or ignoring the pandemic altogether–Taylor Swift did something so smart, you’d almost think it was done by accident.

She released her new album, Folklore with no fanfare at all.

The album was announced 16 hours prior to its availability. There were no singles released early to promote it. According to Swift, “My gut is telling me that if you make something you love, you should just put it out into the world.”

That’s one multi-million dollar gut.

Go figure–the one without the hype, Folklore is Swift’s seventh consecutive album to debut with over 500,000 pure sales, a new Billboard record. 80.6 million streams in one day on Spotify is a record for a female artist. In fact, Swift’s quick album drop as opposed to her previous lead-up hype may be perfectly tailored (“Taylored”?) for today’s streaming consumption behavior. The album is a critical darling.

Taylor Swift mastered the moment because she recognized and mirrored the mood of her audience. So much content we’re currently seeing and hearing was, of course, recorded long ago–they couldn’t have predicted where we’d be today. Folklore feels in the moment because it was recorded during the pandemic.

What techniques can your brand adopt from the “Folklore” launch?

  • Do something surprising. No one saw this album coming, so it felt like a gift, which made it feel more special.
  • Dial down the hype. Be wary of overloading with information because we have so much coming at us from every angle.
  • Be an Outside Thinker. When you put yourself in your consumer’s shoes, you win. From the stripped down music to the lessened hype to the somber black and white photo shoot, everything about the Folklore release feels like a recognition of where the listener is emotionally.

When will it be time to get back to normal and flip the old hype machine switch back on?

We can’t be sure, but you can bet Taylor Swift will know when it’s time.