Case Study: Academy of Country Music Generates New Engagement For its Awards With Multifaceted Twitter PR Campaign

Country music fans are considered some of the most loyal among all the musical genres. There’s an emotional bond between fans and country music artists that is generally lacking among jazz aficionados and rock connoisseurs. In 2012, the Academy of Country Music was able to test that loyalty through a multifaceted Twitter PR campaign supporting the 2012 Academy of Country Music (ACM) Awards.

“It allowed the academy to connect with the fans and gave them the opportunity to understand and experience our brand in a new way,” said Jenny Driessen, social-media manager of the academy, referring to the Twitter PR campaign.

“We’ve been fortunate to build ongoing relationships and friendships with country music fans through our campaign, which ultimately generated brand advocates for the academy. Having a voice on Twitter lets the fans know we’re more than just a brand.”

The most retweeted items from the Academy of
Country Music’s first-ever digital press conference,
which announced the 2012 nominees for the annual
ACM Awards show.


Indeed, the Academy’s embrace of the Twitterverse raised the social-media bar for the music organization, which was recognized by PR News in the 2013 Social Media Icon Awards for the Twitter PR campaign.

The campaign had two main objectives:

• Increase the social-media awareness of the brand and boost the comments about the Academy of Country Music Awards that are made during the awards and posted on social channels.

• Establish a solid social-media presence for the Academy’s brand. Prior to 2012, there wasn’t a dedicated position to focus on social media. That changed early in 2012 when the Academy rolled out its brand’s social presence in an innovative way.

The ACM Awards displayed live tweets from fans and celebrities during
the telecast, seen here with Taylor Swift winning ACM Entertainer of the
Year (2012).



The Academy of Country Music also wanted to enhance its annual awards show so that social platforms were on a par with the television broadcast, which was done on CBS.

“The awards show is still the main piece” of the brand, Driessen said. “But we wanted to integrate our fans as much as possible and get the conversation going online and on TV.”

To kick things off for the PR campaign—and drum up interest in the 2012 awards program—the academy in January 2012 hosted its first digital press conference to help plug the nominations.

Instead of a traditional press conference at a physical location, every awards category was delivered to fans and media reps via the academy’s Twitter handle and Facebook page. That was immediately followed by a full press release featuring all of the nominations.

“The digital press conference in 2012 was a novel way for us to signify to fans and media that we were intensifying the content we deliver through our social channels,” said Brooke Primero, senior VP, PR and marketing, for the academy.

The digital press conference reached 14.2 million Twitter accounts.

“We wanted to generate a renewed level of excitement online that would carry through the telecast of our award show, and not only increase the social media discussions, but increase viewership as well,” Primero added.


But the academy was eager to enable fans to immerse themselves in the awards process, so consumers were encouraged to submit videos of themselves announcing the name of the artist(s) they would like to see get an Entertainer of the Year nomination. Fans were invited to visit the ACM YouTube channel to learn how to post their videos.

More than 300 video submissions were received from fans to potentially announce the ACM Entertainer of the Year nominees.

The academy then packaged the most creative videos into the nomination video for “Entertainer of the Year,” which was the final category of the digital press conference.

To give the digital press conference some celebrity oomph, singer Lionel Richie and Entertainment Tonight’s Nancy O’Dell also delivered videos announcing various categories.


Another hook for the Twitter campaign: launching a hashtag that would resonate with fans. The academy chose #ACMs because “most people within the industry and fans like to use acronyms,” Driessen said. “With a limit of 140 characters on Twitter, we wanted to keep it simple so more fans would be likely to comment using our official hashtag.”

As part of its Twitter PR campaign, the academy was also able to connect with some of the major institutions in the country-music field, including the Country Music Hall of Fame and T he Grand Ole Opry, as well as some of the major bloggers covering the country music.

In addition to all these PR efforts, the academy created a “Social Splash” page on its main website in the days leading up to the awards program, a one-stop shop for fans to participate in online chats, follow their favorite country music artists and track updates about the awards show and events hosted by the academy.

Driessen amplified Primero’s comments that the digital press conference helped to fuel the rest of the campaign and engage the academy’s audience.

“It’s hard to put into numbers,” Driessen said, “but when you’re talking with your fans and creating relationships, people become your advocates.”

And for the academy, the advocacy translated into some significant numbers via Twitter.

Specific results included:

• Tweets per minute during the 2012 telecast grew by 863% (1,320 Tweets per minute in 2012 versus 153 tweets per minute in 2011).

• A 330% increase in social media comments during the CBS telecast (676,000 in 2012 versus 157,000 in 2011).

• ACM Awards Twitter followers increased by 62%, from the PR kickoff for the awards program in mid January through April 2, one day after the 2012 awards show was broadcast on CBS.

• More than 30-plus trending topics during the broadcast, including #ACMs and #ACMwedding.

“Twitter is huge for your brand overall,” Driessen said. “It’s the place where people go to find out information about your brand and where people are interacting with your brand. If you don’t create ways to interact with them and enable them to talk about your brand, you’re going to fall to the back of the line.” PRN


Jenny Driessen,; Brooke Primero,

3 Ways Brands Can Leverage Twitter

Develop a unique experience for fans.

We expanded our nominations announcement by using Twitter to create a new way to deliver the nominations to fans. Instead of inviting a small group of press to an in-person press conference, we invited fans and media to participate wherever they were—a first for an Awards show. Allowing fans to participate in the process from the beginning of the campaign gave them the opportunity to join our community and experience our brand in a new way.

Take advantage of access to key influencers on Twitter.

As an entertainment brand, we have unique access to a high level of talent to support our efforts. We were able to target influencers in music, television and entertainment in general to broaden our reach and disperse into niche audiences. Digital media enables talent and influencers to participate in opportunities generated online because participation does not require travel on the talent’s behalf.

Create a personality for your brand that fits your company and audience.

It’s important to understand how and why your audience uses Twitter. Our audience wants to be entertained, informed and connected to artists and other fans. We’re fortunate to have some latitude with the voice of our brand—we inject humor and are colorful in tone. We established ourselves as an approachable and quick-witted brand that engages our fans at all times of the day.

Jenny Driessen is social media manager at the Academy of Country Music.

This article appeared in the July 29 issue of PR News. Subscribe to PR News today to receive weekly comprehensive coverage of the most fundamental PR topics from visual storytelling to crisis management to media training.