If you knew you would lose your hearing next year, how would you take advantage of the precious time you had left? This hypothetical became all too real for a young Australian girl, and formed the basis of yet another shining PR moment for Taylor Swift.
Jorja Hope of Maitland, New South Wales, was 12 years old when she was diagnosed with a condition that causes progressive inner-ear hearing loss, and her immediate distressed reaction was that she would never hear Swift sing again. Hope's twin sister set up a Facebook group and began a Twitter conversation called #HelpJorjaMeetTaylorSwiftSydney in an attempt to catch Swift's attention and arrange a meeting between pop star and fan at her Nov. 28 concert in Sydney.
With the help of Sydney radio station Nova 96.9, which took notice and lent its voice to amplify the campaign, the Hope sisters succeeded: Taylor met her young fan at the concert for some photos and a big hug.
A bittersweet feel-good story reminiscent of the terminally ill fan who was allowed to see The Force Awakens two months before its release, Jorja's is the kind of tale that makes a brand's image shine. But the lesson here is not in how Taylor Swift and her team capitalized on this particular opportunity; that involved minimal effort. The lesson is that these opportunities don't come from nowhere, but rather arise naturally for a brand that does PR well consistently.
Taylor Swift is known for involving her fans on social media (and for being an authentic person rather than having a social media team post things for her), and has demonstrated her compassion for the needy through such acts as her donation of $50,000 to NYC public schools. And just try to keep your heart from melting when you watch this video of Swift surprising a loyal fan at her bridal shower, or this one of her visit to Boston Children's Hospital. This is just scratching the surface of her history of good deeds. Would Jorja have even tried to reach out if her favorite singer were somebody more prickly and aloof? Perhaps not.
Good PR is self-perpetuating in this way, always creating opportunities for more good PR. Don't expect an immediate return for your efforts in image work; rather, think of them as a long-term investment. If you seem like the kind of brand that goes the extra mile to be friendly and helpful, there will be people listening who will give you the chance to prove it again and again.
Follow Ian: @ianwright0101