Reputation Repair, Social Media and Kanye West

Kanye West, at the MTV Video Music Awards, was nominated for one award, but his performance was his high point. --Mike Blake/Reuters

Kanye West, at the MTV Video Music Awards, was nominated for one award, but his performance was his high point. --Mike Blake/Reuters

For the second year in a row, Kanye West stole the show at last night’s MTV Video Music Awards.

Last year, the performer snatched the microphone from Taylor Swift during her acceptance speech, to tell the world that Beyonce’s video was better. This year West capped the show as only he can — with music and light shows and strong language.

Kanye ended the show with a song that was equal parts apology and frustrated battle cry. When he walked offstage the audience was chanting his name.

Although I’m not sure I’d ever use Kanye West’s methods, he certainly can teach us a few things about reputation destruction and reputation repair.

Consider how well Kanye used modern media in just the past week.

First, he turned to Twitter. He wrote 72 Tweets referring to last year’s incident, and the fallout he has experienced since.

He apologized to Ms. Swift, and called out the media and those who have criticized him. He also expressed contrition, Kanye-style (grammar his):

“I’ve hurt, I’ve bled, I’ve learned. I only want to do good. I am passionate I am human I am real. I wish I could meet every hater I wish I could talk to every hater face to face and change there a opinion of me one conversation at a time.”

This put Kanye West’s name front and center just days before the MTV awards show that he imploded on a year ago.

West has received plenty of good press from his activities on the social media microblog – after all, he follows no one, but has more than 1.1 million followers.

But that was just groundwork.

When Kanye West appeared on the VMAs, he was all about moving forward, singing a song from a new CD and showing clips from a new film he produced, all for a national TV audience.

In both cases, Kanye used the digital media and the legacy broadcast media to get out his message without interruption, control negative reaction, and redefine his reputation.

Taylor Swift, meanwhile, sang a pretty song in the middle of the show about innocence and regret, which was pretty much forgotten by the evening’s end.

Well done, Kanye – somehow your bad-boy message overshadowed the pretty blonde again.

Unlocking the PR Power of #Twitter

From your mood to the movement of your favorite rapper, there’s a lot we can learn from Twitter.

For one, the U.S. West Coast is happier than the East Coast—or so say Northeastern and Harvard researchers, who mapped out a way to quantify and visualize happiness all based on real-time Twitter comments (although I’m happy to say—and Tweet—that the map shows we’re pretty content here in Central Florida).

Then, there’s rapper Kanye West. He joined the popular social media site after a visit to its headquarters—and received instant coverage. Then, a few weeks later, Stephen Homes, a Twitter user from England, became a minor celebrity when he tweeted West to ask what kind of toothpaste he used on his diamond teeth. That question made Holmes the only person West himself chose to follow—and earned him a mention on NPR.

It goes to show you: social media’s pull is strong when it comes to media coverage and public awareness, and it should be an integral part of your overall strategic public relations campaign. So how do you build your brand on Twitter? Here are a few social media starter tips:

Kayne Tweet

  1. Decide how you want to brand your company: Fill out your entire profile and design your background—this makes your page look legitimate and extends your brand image onto Twitter.
  2. Become known as an expert/resource: Mashable writes that Twitter is a shorter and more viral form of blogging, so the same rules still apply.
  3. Establish a Twitter marketing plan: This includes adding Twitter links to e-mail signatures, Web sites, newsletters, presentations, business cards, promotion products, etc. Just like with any social network or blog, the more people who follow you, the easier it is to grow your already existing community.
  4. RT and Hashtags: Retweets, hashtags and following other people are essential ways to get new followers (What are hashtags? They’re the # signs placed in front of key search terms).

Ad Age calls promotion and public relations through Twitter “a souped-up word of mouth.” So start talking—140 characters at a time—and begin to unlock the PR power of Twitter.

For more social media and public relations advice, contact Wellons Communications at 407-339-0879. And don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @Wellons_PR.