Matter Chatter

3 PR Lessons from a Taylor Swift Concert and the CrossFit Games

To observe an elite star at the height of his or her powers can be vexing or inspiring. I suppose that’s why there are Instagram posts and coffee mugs to remind us all that Beyoncé also operates in a day with 24 hours – whether we’re meant to feel bad about ourselves or determined to do more is a matter of perspective. This weekend, I watched two different types of stars at the pinnacle of their games: Taylor Swift and the athletes of the CrossFit Games. And, yes, I swear this post is not total clickbait.

On Saturday night, along with 60,000 other #Swifties at Gillette Stadium, my ticket was scanned, my LED bracelet adorned my wrist and my eyes were fixed on the 1989 Tour. What struck me more than the manic jubilation of the mainly tween crowd was the incredible precision and care given to every set piece, light, costume and word spoken on stage. As a longtime fan who admittedly cringed at some early live performances, it was impossible to ignore what a pro Swift has become since her teen years – from her voice to her command of the stage and crowd.

The rest of the weekend, aside from summiting a “mountain” and grabbing brunch with friends, found me on the couch, keeping up with the 2015 Reebok CrossFit Games. Like 270,000 other CrossFitters, I competed in the CrossFit Opens this year and, needless to say, was a few Kettlebell swings and muscle-ups short of qualifying for Carson. During the Individual Men’s Snatch Speed Ladder, Elijah Muhammad failed on his first attempt at the final Olympic lift, and 200+ pounds crashed down on his head and back – a scary sight so I’ll spare you the link. Rather than quit, Muhammad composed himself, returned to the bar and hit the lift.

So, does any of this pertain to PR, or is this just a thinly veiled ploy to tell the world I’m a CrossFitter who likes Taylor Swift and wants more Instagram followers? The answer to both questions is yes.

Here are three things I’m taking to work from my weekend of stargazing:

  1. Details Matter: Whether timing pyrotechnics, crafting the right pitch for the right target, tracking coverage or pulling statistics, any campaign or PR program is only as good as the sum of its well-choreographed parts. Take time to be precise and accurate before you hit send.
  1. Progress Matters: While it’s critical to be mindful of the small stuff and not to rest too long on your laurels, pull back when you can and make note of how far a program has come, as well as your own personal development as a PR pro, colleague, friend, athlete, pop star. You may be surprised.
  1. Perseverance Matters: It hopefully won’t feel like a heavy barbell to the head, but PR is full of failures and rejection. How you react to those disappointments will determine your success. When a pitch doesn’t click or a campaign concept gets dismissed, refocus and get back at it.