The power of social media has increased steadily since 2007, and celebrities have definitely taken notice. It has almost become a requirement to use social media platforms to let the world peek into their personal lives. Celebrities share their most intimate moments and give us a glimpse of nearly every aspect of their lives; from behind-the-scenes snapshots on movie sets, to special moments with loved ones, to photos revealing salacious amounts of flesh that surge to the top of the trending list.
I began to wonder: perhaps celebrities use social media platforms to do more than just send out controversial selfies and tweets—they also use social media to carry out PR functions.
So I decided to examine how celebrities use social media (with an emphasis on Twitter) to fulfill some of the same functions that a publicist does. After all – who better to do the 24/7 job of a celebrity publicist than the celebrities themselves?
Two-way symmetric communication
The very definition of public relations is managing the flow of communication between an entity and the public, and tweeting is a great way to open the lines of communication between celebs and their followers. Gone are the days of traditional fan mail where people actually write letters to their favorite star. In this instant and digital age, celebs know exactly what their fans are saying about them—and if fans are lucky, celebrities may actually respond!
But careful – some celebs are notoriously known for snapping on fans who get on their bad side. So tread softly.
Although most celebrities still rely on a publicist to release official statements regarding both personal and professional matters, fans, journalists and entertainment reporters alike keep an eye on their Twitter feed to get news straight from the horse’s mouth. Celebrity posts can go viral in a matter of minutes, so sometimes a tweet circulates quicker than an official statement or press conference.
Luckily for us regular folk, if we make a mistake, we can handle it privately. But for celebrities, they’ve got to watch what they say and do before it blows up in their face—which can be difficult to minimize in the harsh Hollywood glare. Celebrities often issue public apologies via Twitter to express their remorse for whatever unfortunate incident may have occurred.
(For some, damage control equals deleting a tweet before anyone can see it. But these days, even deleting a tweet doesn’t do much. Check out this article on celebrities who have once tweeted and deleted.)
If used efficiently, social media platforms can help celebrities push their own projects—retweets and posts favorited by fans can generate just as much buzz as a multi-million dollar advertising campaign. And I just can’t make this point without bringing up Beyoncé’s game-changing move, when she announced the release of her new album on Instagram with a 15-second teaser that she simply captioned: “Surprise!”
(Okay, I realize everyone can’t be Beyoncé, but this definitely made artists rethink how they promoted their projects.)
Can you think of some other ways that celebrities use social media to carryout PR functions? Leave a comment and let us know what you think!
Brittany Knox is the newest public relations intern here at c21. She is an alumna of Georgia State University, where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Communications. When she’s not sharpening her skills as a future PR maven, Brittany enjoys traveling, dancing, and dining around Atlanta.