The PR maturity curve

Charting the maturity curve through the career of Taylor Swift

PR maturity curve

Kim Jefferson is EVP at BLASTmedia

Anyone who knows me knows I’m a ride-or-die Swiftie. I’m glued to a grainy livestream for most Eras Tour shows. I attended the show in Cincinnati (night two) and was arguably the most active contributor to the office “Swifties” Slack channel.

If you’re also a Swiftie, today is your lucky day because I’ll frequently reference (honorary) Dr. Swift as we walk through the PR maturity curve. If you’re not, there’s still something to learn here, whether it be how to communicate to a client about what to expect from their current stage of PR maturity or some inspiration on progressing your company to the next level.

The myth of PR maturity

It’s all too common for those first dipping their toes into brand building — whether a startup CEO or an entry-level PR pro — to expect PR maturity to happen overnight. As soon as you have something interesting to pitch to the WSJ, you’ll get coverage from it, right? Not necessarily.

PR maturity takes work. It’s a staged process requiring patience and diligence, much like Taylor Swift’s career. As her career evolved through experimentation with new genres, storylines and ways of handling celebrity (a throwback to Snakegate), building brand awareness, credibility and inbound interest required a sustained PR strategy.

This journey starts with reacting to immediate needs and then progresses to consistent, proactive communication. Finally, reaching PR maturity is about fostering relationships with your audience and creating a brand you want to be remembered. This stair-stepped journey allows brands and their thought leaders to come into their own.

Foundational stage: Debut album

The foundational stage is all about building the PR starter pack. At this stage, companies should focus on determining and media training a bench of spokespeople, defining their messaging for their ideal customer profile, scoping out the competition, determining the company’s mission and value proposition, and building consistent messaging across all channels.

The foundational stage is the perfect time to build a bank of thought leadership content across your owned channels and target media outlets. You can also make your business look alive by sharing news about exciting product developments and important team additions.

Think about Taylor’s debut album. It exuded her youthful energy and established her initial sound, where she found her voice and built a foundation.

Consistency stage: ‘Fearless’ to ‘1989’

Taylor was nothing but consistent, releasing albums every two years from 2008 to 2014. This strategy helped build her faithful fan base of die-hard Swifties willing to stay up until midnight for an album drop or take PTO to score tickets for her tour.

The consistency stage is all about proactive, consistent communication as a company. It is the perfect time to build a consistent pipeline of podcast interviews and industry trade articles that go beyond product talk. Bold thought leadership is critical here, so if you have something interesting to say about an industry trend or leadership initiative, say it!

This will also be a time when you can see the fruit of your labor more through data like mentions in analyst reports, high-quality backlinks to your site and web traffic from PR efforts. The data doesn’t lie when it comes to consistency, which makes it easier to sell the investment to the rest of your company and board.

Mature Stage: ‘Folklore’ and more

PR maturity parallels how Taylor’s “Folklore” and subsequent albums showcased artistic growth and audience connection. This stage is about fostering relationships and creating a story you want to be remembered.

As a company reaches true PR maturity, you’ll be able to:

  • Amplify company milestones and thought leadership through consistent earned media coverage in trade publications, podcasts, and business and tech news outlets.
  • Become the industry darling, generating significant inbound interest from media outlets, investors and event organizers.
  • Empower your happy customers to become brand ambassadors, amplifying your PR efforts through their third-party praise.
  • Watch branded search terms skyrocket and organic traffic soar.
  • Position your company’s subject matter experts as go-to voices in the industry.
  • Establish your brand as a trusted source of industry knowledge through a consistent flow of proprietary data. 

Like Taylor’s career, achieving PR maturity isn’t about a single viral moment or placement in a national publication. The commitment to the long game builds brand loyalty and positions you as a leader in your industry as you work toward true PR maturity.

Topics: PR


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