5 PR lessons from Katy Perry songs

You don’t think the pop star behind “Firework” and “I Kissed a Girl” can teach you anything about public relations? Think again.

I’ve written a lot of crazy comparisons over the years:

I’m now taking that to a new level. Not just because I have another crazy comparison, but because I’m publicly revealing one of my biggest celebrity crushes: Katy Perry.

Don’t worry. My wife knows all about it.

I’ve been a big fan of Perry for a while, and not just because of the crush. (What guy doesn’t have a crush on KP?) I legitimately like her music. (My taste is eclectic.) A comparison post with Perry isn’t a big stretch for me since my KP Spotify playlist is in heavy rotation during the workweek.

I give you five PR lessons embedded within her songs:

1. “Firework”

This song is all about letting your passion and talents shine through.

“You just gotta ignite the light and let it shine. Just own the night like the Fourth of July.”

Clients pay us to counsel them. They pay us for our ideas. The lesson here is to not be a wallflower in meetings. Share your ideas. Speak up—even when no one asks for your opinion. You never know what might happen.

2. “Teenage Dream”

“Let you put your hands on me in my skin-tight jeans, be your teenage dream tonight.”

This song is about that one girl or boy who drove you crazy. You crushed so hard on that person; you wanted him or her more than anything.

Aren’t there a few clients you have a crush on? Clients you’ve always wanted to work with, even though they might drive you crazy? The lesson embedded in this song is to embrace that craziness. Take a chance and never look back, baby.

3. “Wide Awake”

“I wish I knew then what I know now. Wouldn’t dive in, wouldn’t bow down.”

Sure, Perry’s talking about getting over a flame. But as I think about the professional world, you could make the argument that this song could also be about a bad relationship with an employer, or getting fired for the first time.

Just look at the lyrics: “Not losing any sleep. I picked up every piece and landed on my feet.”

That sounds like the blind-sided nature of getting fired, doesn’t it?

Or what about: “Yeah I’m born again. Out of the lion’s den. I don’t have to pretend. It’s too late. The story’s over now. The end.”

If you’ve ever been laid off from a PR job, this song should resonate. (That’s exactly what you listen for in this song, right?)

4. “I Kissed a Girl”

I know what you’re thinking: “How could this song have any meaning for the PR world?”

Oh, how you underestimate me, my friend.

Just think about our friends who have come over to PR from journalism. Don’t the lyrics ring true for these folks?

“This was never the way I planned, not my intention. I got so brave, drink in hand, lost my discretion. It’s not what I’m used to, just wanna try you on. I’m curious for you, caught my attention.”

Doesn’t that sound like the lure of the PR field for journalists? They fall in love with the other side. You know it’s true.

5. “The One That Got Away”

The lesson here for PR pros is actually pretty simple: Don’t let those good clients get away.

In this song, Perry talks about a long-lost love that got away. Take a peek at the lyrics:

“All this money can’t buy me a time machine. Can’t replace you with a million rings. I should’ve told you what you meant to me, ’cause now I pay the price.”

That sounds like the angst of an agency that lost its ideal client. Don’t let that happen to you. Make sure your clients are happy—madly-in-love-with-you happy.

Arik Hanson is principal of ACH Communications in Minneapolis. He blogs at Communications Conversations, where a version of this article originally appeared.

Topics: PR


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