By Queen Stevenson
As MEPR Agency celebrates its own birthday all month long, we’d also like to share in the fun with celebrated, controversial, but always entertaining rapper/designer/producer Kanye West. He turned 39 yesterday and to wish him his belated, we just had to reflect on his special relationship with pop culture and media. There’s no doubt about it — the man knows publicity: how to generate it, how to amplify it, how to leverage it.
Asserting authenticity (at all costs)
Kanye always speaks his mind – whether people hate him or love him, they recognize the authenticity in his message. His infamous outburst during the 2005 NBC A Concert for Hurricane Relief, in which he said, “George Bush doesn’t care about black people,” cemented him as an outspoken and controversial figure. His conduct at award shows throughout the years — most notably interrupting Taylor Swift at the 2009 VMAs to assert that Beyoncé deserved the Best Female Video award instead — demonstrated his stubborn beliefs about whose artistry deserved recognition, most which referred to himself. In any forum, Kanye West has never failed to stay true to himself, and he’s either beloved or begrudged because of this.
We probably shouldn’t copy Kanye’s techniques (because we’ll lose all our clients), but we should definitely embrace his unwavering commitment to staying authentic. In all your work, make sure your messaging is always grounded in authenticity, that you believe in the core values of your campaign and would be able to defend these values at all costs. People — your audience, your clients (past, present and potential), and competitors — will immediately know if your campaigns are rooted in something greater, or were merely manufactured.
Wearing multiple hats
Kanye is multitalented – artist, producer, director, designer, and most encompassing of all the previous terms, entrepreneur. He is 21-time Grammy winner and founder of music label G.O.O.D. Music, which boasts labelmates such as John Legend and Common. He founded his own creative content company DONDA, named after his late mother, which has produced the content and branding for many of his music videos, promotionals and short films. Most recently, Kanye released his YEEZY shoe line with Adidas in 2014 and a Yeezy Season clothing line in 2015, both garnering reviews - critical and positive. In the words of my older brother Michael, who is West’s biggest fan, “Not many public figures can put their hands in this many pots and still stay on brand. He’s managed to do that and it allows him to stay relevant with younger demographics.”
In wearing multiple hats, Kanye stays true to one major element: his disruption. His vision involves constantly disrupting creative spaces at every level: concerts and tours, style and fashion, conduct on social media, the typical image of a rapper, and the list goes on. At MEPR Agency, our disruption takes the form of ensuring that every client on our diverse roster is promised innovative strategies tailored to their needs. Essentially, we kick the box across the room and help clients create their own strategies for communicating.
Knowing your worth
Around the Internet, it’s been said that the ultimate goal of a modern romantic relationship is to find someone who “loves you like Kanye loves Kanye.” And it’s true — no one loves Kanye more than himself. “My only regret in life is that I’ll never get to see me perform live,” he once said. Some take his effusive and enthusiastic self-love as an affront, and others accept it, labeling it as familiar territory for a musical genius.
Ultimately, for PR pros, the biggest take away from Kanye is to know our worth beyond the tactics, press releases, and social media posts. Our professional worth is in delivering what clients really need from us — our experience, the theory matched with new traditions, and our specialized knowledge. We understand, like Kanye, that we are not everyone’s cup of tea, and equally we are super selective in working with those who know we are a great fit.
Dang it, Kanye — you’ve stormed your way into the PR space just like you stormed your way onto the stage at the 2009 VMAs. We don’t fault you, though — you can’t help who you are, a creative disruptive genius. And, rest assured — we at MEPR Agency will continue to take notes.