During the current Category 5 PR storm there's been nothing swift about Taylor Swift’s response to Ticketmaster fumbling her upcoming tour's ticket sales.
This week's events had some PR pros twisting and squirming as they watched Swift damage her reputation, leaving angry fans–like myself–wondering, Where is she? It is, after all, the Taylor Swift tour.
But she was nowhere to be found until days after problems with tickets erupted. By that time some of her fans and the media were turning against Swift.
Hey @taylorswift13! A longtime and loyal 37 YO fan here who always supports everything you do. But I cant support you celebrating your Grammy noms and continuing to release remixes that fans are forced to buy while U stay silent on the @Ticketmaster disaster. So disappointed.
— Melody Kiella (@KiellaMelody) November 18, 2022
Only today (Nov. 18) did she break her silence, after bad PR from the tickets fiasco was beginning to dent her brand.
A reputation crisis creates an existential threat and often requires prompt response, as well as a longer-term strategy. It became increasingly clear that Ticketmaster, Swift and her team were not prepared for the epic rush for concert tickets.
Surviving bad PR or a PR crisis requires looking in the mirror, not out the window. The public expects immediate accountability–and in Taylor Swift’s case–she should have looked in the mirror and said, ‘It’s Me, Hi, I’m the Problem, It’s Me’
While nailing the timing of a statement during a reputation crisis is paramount, put that aside for just a second.
Instead, we must address how Swift's statement failed. It lacked self-reflection or solutions. Simply, when your name is on the billboard, you must assume responsibility.
Ultimately, getting control of a situation or crisis is more art than science, but 5 steps below can help companies and celebrity brands navigate the height of a media storm and eventually reclaim the narrative.
[Update: Nov. 21, 10am ET: Late Friday (Nov. 18) Ticketmaster apologized to Swift and her fans. The next day, Ticketmaster parent Live Nation Entertainment issued a statement denying it's abusing its market dominance.]
A Better Response
On day one, Swift should have issued a statement that included the following:
(1) Acknowledge what went wrong.
(2) Discuss what she wished she knew before the ticket mishap occurred.
(3) State what she wants her public and fans to know and think about the situation.
(4) Mention the consequences that she will accept for her team’s choices and actions.
(5) How she plans to make things right, if that's possible.
The reality is Swift and her team allowed the situation to burn and burn. They let Ticketmaster take the blame until eventually the fire was visible from her window.
It’s clear Swift's team made a colossal mistake thinking Ticketmaster could solely own the fallout. But they made it even worse releasing a statement that left a lot to be desired.
The lesson: when faced with a potential PR crisis, speak up before it’s too late.
Jason Kaplan is SVP at SKDK and was press secretary to senate majority leader Charles Schumer