Feature Profiles, PR, & Taylor Swift

Wow, I kind of disappeared for a while. This last month of grad school has been…an adventure to say the least. Only one more week left, I can’t believe it’s almost over. I have some plans for blog posts over winter break now that I will have time to actually do them. I also will be finishing up this site, its content is a little sparse right now.

Anyways one of our final assignment in my PR writing class is to write a profile feature story. I had never really thought about it before then, but I read at least one profile story a week. Whether is be online or in print, I read them about people from all walks of life; celebrities, political figures, interesting and not so interesting people. I have found out compelling facts about people I was already at least semi-familiar with, and found out about new and amazing people I had never even heard of before.

So when I was thinking about what article wanted to talk about today I tried thinking back to one of the many profiles I have read. The first people that popped into my head were Nathan Fillion and Joss Whedon (not a big surprise for anyone who knows me). Then, spurred by a song that had just come on my iTunes playlist, I remembered a great profile I read earlier this year about Taylor Swift on the Vogue website by Jonathan Van Meter and figured it would be a great one to go with (maybe a surprise for those who don’t know me well, but again, not for those who do).


Photo by Mario Testino, from Vouge.com

One thing I think that can become a problem when doing a profile on someone like Taylor Swift, who seems to always be in the media, is making it unique. Why should I read your story when I see her on the cover of a magazine at least once a month? What is something new this story can offer me?

I think Vouge succeeded in getting past this problem. I remembered the story 10 months later, didn’t I? They also got me to visit their site 10 months ago to read the article in the first place. Trust me, Vouge is not on my subscription list and Vouge.com isn’t on my list of sites I frequent.

I am not going to go into details on what is said and talked about in the profile, because you should go read it yourself, even if you are not a Taylor Swift fan. It’s a well written profile that doesn’t ask the same questions or exactly paint the same picture as most other articles about Swift.

“…it comes as a nice surprise to discover just how sharp she is. She is clever and funny and occasionally downright bawdy…She may be edgier than her image suggests, but she is not Courtney Love. She has a deeply ingrained sense of appropriateness. She also knows her audience—and knows that they aren’t ready for her to grow up quite yet.”

From a public relations perspective I think the article hits her image/brand right on the head. Swift and her brand are, as the author described her “all prom” and “her music and her look are stuck in teenage gear.” The article encompasses that part of her brand, but also shows that image is not only what she is.

As a long time fan of Swift’s, and a fan that has been out of high school for years, I enjoyed that the article showed that she isn’t exactly stuck in that time period, it helps me feel more connected to Swift. When I finish reading the profile, even 10 months later, I still come out with this feeling of “Taylor gets it. She might be famous, but she is still just like me or any other girl…” I want to be her friend.  Swift sums it up best with one line (about a model she admires), “I want to bake cookies with her!” Which is a powerful tool and exactly one of the points of doing a profile story in the first place. If I connect with her, as a fan I am more inclined to buy her next album.

Now that it’s 10 months later I can say that this article did do its job. Swift’s newest album dropped last month, and I bought it. The day it came out. Even though in the back of my head I was worried I had outgrown Swift’s music. I was wrong, it still resonates, she still gets it.


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