A Lesson from Taylor Swift

by Ashley Tinstman

Last week, I had the privilege of seeing Taylor Swift in concert for her 1989 World Tour.  (Full disclosure:  Before I get too deep into this blog post, I should probably warn you that I am a devoted Taylor Swift fan.  I could talk about T-Swift and her music for hours, but that’s another conversation for another day.)

Now, you’re probably wondering, “Why are you writing about Taylor Swift on a blog about communications?”

Well, believe it or not, Taylor Swift can actually offer some valuable lessons for companies and professional communicators.  While you may know her as the chart-topping artist who writes break-up songs, she’s also developed a reputation for being incredibly loyal and generous to her community and her fans—arguably her most important stakeholders.

For instance, following the release of her hit album, 1989, Swift announced that she would donate the proceeds from the sale of her single “Welcome to New York” to New York City public schools.  And earlier this year, she quietly donated $50,000 to a young fan battling leukemia to help pay for her medical expenses.

Swift also gained international attention last Christmas when she personally took the time to peruse her fans’ social media pages, getting to know them and their interests.  Ultimately, she selected a group of lucky fans and sent them individualized Christmas packages filled with presents and handwritten notes.  She made a similar gesture a few months later when she sent a fan a personalized care package along with a check for $1,989 to help pay off student loans.

I could go on and on with countless anecdotes, but the main takeaway is that Taylor Swift’s actions serve as a prime example of how to develop lasting relationships with your stakeholders.  This doesn’t mean you have to donate $50,000 or send care packages, but acts of corporate social responsibility can go a long way in building and maintaining a strong reputation.

Ask yourself:  “Who are your key stakeholders and how can you strengthen your relationships with them?”  Perhaps that means investing in a cause related to your organization’s mission or coordinating regular team-building days for your employees.  Or maybe your goal is to form stronger connections with community leaders and local organizations.

No matter what type of investment you make in your stakeholders—monetary or otherwise—the end result will be stakeholders who make a greater investment in you.  Taylor Swift is proof of that.

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