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.