Jenny from the Block

I can’t help but notice Jennifer Lopez’s sudden surge of recognition. Her movies play in marathons on television, she is a popular addition to the American Idol judges, she recently received the “Favorite Latin Artist” award at the AMAs and she has a new endorsement deal with Fiat. But above all else, Jennifer Lopez has become a full-fledged role model in and outside the Latina community. She has captured audiences of all ethnicities, but to Latinas she is the pinnacle of success.

As a PR student, I am particularly interested in how she has crafted her brand. Her image has developed a multi-market appeal that has bridged gaps in the film and music industries. Her “Jenny from the Block” persona has introduced her as a woman with strong roots and strong ideals. From there, she built an image based around her ethnicity and used it as a platform for success.

Her popularity largely stems from the fact that she is popular in and out of the mainstream media. She has become a symbol of the Latina community, and her following is unwavering and all-enduring. Lopez has proved time and time again that she is a savvy businesswoman that knows what she wants out of her career.

From a public relations standpoint, Lopez places her brand in a variety of media outlets such as film, print, music video and television. By allowing her fans to see her wearing many different “hats,” she guarantees that the media view her as a versatile Latin woman. In addition to her own personal branding, Lopez has also popularized the Latina community. This is especially prevalent in her urban New York hometown. Because of Lopez’s influence, the Latin community has become more vocal and confident in their culture.

Here are some ways I think Jennifer Lopez captured the Latina community:

She holds strong ties to her upbringing. She constantly reminds her audience that she is from the Bronx and has a strong connection to the Latina community. Her relatable story has encouraged fans to become a part of her story, which is the best way to build a fan base. Lopez will continue her career with a large following of people who believe in her and love the community she came from.

She is the modern day Selena. After playing Selena in the 1997 film, Lopez took the reins and picked up where Selena left off. JLO was able to enter her career with Selena’s loyal fans in tow, which gave her the foundation she needed to create her own unique brand.

She is an opinion leader. Her ideas and beliefs have absolutely rubbed off on her following over the course of her career. She has taken on being a role model and is dedicated to providing her Latina fans with an opinion leader and ally.

She takes on key roles in film. She chooses to play bold, independent women in her films. This is probably best shown in her leading role in the movie “Enough.” This movie follows a woman’s journey to save herself and her young daughter from her abusive husband. This role encompasses everything it means to be a strong woman and because of that her fans associate this role with Lopez’s brand.

I appreciate Jennifer Lopez’s commitment to her fans and her brand. She is intelligent, beautiful, talented and independent…all things that lend to a successful career. I am impressed by her recent explosion in the media and can’t wait to see where she pops up next.

“My managers and agents and I realized that I’m not white…so I’ve always wanted to show that I could play any kind of character. Not only a range of emotions, but also race-wise.”

-Jennifer Lopez.

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Sweet baby Jesus, that was good.

Jay-Z – one of the most established artists in the music industry today – has had 12 albums go to No. 1 on the charts. Kanye West – the man responsible for creating some of the most popular beats in music – has had five albums debut at No. 1. Alone, these men have revolutionized the music industry and set the bar unimaginably high for up-and-coming artists. So when I heard they were doing a collaboration album I knew it would be a true masterpiece.

From minute one the album is engaging and catchy. The way the music industry is pumping out music, it is pretty difficult to find an album that can be listened to all the way through without skipping around to different tracks. It is even more difficult to find an album that managed to make it to the release date without being leaked. In the case of “Watch the Throne,” the album wasn’t leaked to the public at all prior to the release date (aside from the exclusive listening party put on by the artists). This gave the fans the opportunity to experience the music all at the same time like we used to before illegal downloading took hold of the music industry.

After recording the most influential rap album in recent history, the duo handed it over to the PR department. Luckily for the legendary pair, the PR practitioners did a fantastic job of putting out news releases and crafting a plan that would make sure the public was ready for the album to drop.

In terms of PR, Aug. 8 was a huge day. This day marked the beginning of a launch campaign that would push the album to record-breaking levels. This campaign began with a four-day exclusive stint on iTunes that featured both versions of the album. For a fan, this meant that if you wanted to get the music from this epic pairing, you had go to iTunes because no other retailer had the goods. As if the 16 mind-blowing songs released that day weren’t enough, tickets also went on sale for the North American tour. These two events, paired with the premiere of the “Otis” music video, proved to be perfectly strategic moves by the PR team.

The album recorded the second-highest opening week sales so far this year with 436,078 units sold. Additionally, Jay-Z and Kanye had to add three more stops to their tour due to the amount of fans dying to see the music performed live. The pair proved yet again that they are the best in the industry and can put out an album that floors audiences worldwide.

The PR team succeeded in presenting the launch of “Watch the Throne” as an unveiling of a work of art. The suspense was broken with a surge of activity surrounding the album, which made it possible for the album to receive the recognition it deserved. Fans had long awaited an album of this magnitude, so when it finally debuted and was featured on multiple media outlets, the public’s curiosity pushed the album to the top of the charts. The PR team’s approach to the campaign was representative of how much weight these particular artists hold in the industry and that is why this campaign was so effective.

Here are my top three tips for a successful launch:

  1. Do not leak content prior to the release date. By keeping the music under wraps until its launch date, the fans will have a stronger reaction to the album.
  2. Start the launch campaign with a surge of material. If the fans are anticipating a big release, give it to them. Release a lot of content in a short amount of time to place a spotlight on the music.
  3. Follow up the release with a tour. Concerts are the best way to reach out to the largest number of fans. So get out there! Take the music on the road and give the fans another date to get excited for.

Jay-Z and Kanye West, hats off to you. The album is incredible, and your PR team put together a launch campaign that could help a Kidz Bop album move up the charts.

“This is one of those rare occasions where the amazing music on this album actually matches the event status of the pairing of these two iconic, generational artists. The proof is in the pudding with the sensational sales this week. Needless to say we are thrilled to be involved with this huge worldwide cultural event.”

– Barry Weiss, Chairman & CEO of Universal Republic and Island Def Jam Motown

The day I fell in love with fashion and PR, together.

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At any given time I can be found drooling over J Crew’s newest catalogue, browsing fashion blogs or re-watching Sex and the City episodes just to see the clothes one more time. I know that I love fashion, so now I am looking for where fashion and PR meet.

I started my research at PR Couture and found a post that reminded me of the woman that turned me onto PR in the first place. If you have seen MTV’s drama-filled reality show “The Hills,” you know Kelly Cutrone as the powerful, intimidating and brilliant woman in black. If you have not seen the show you may know her as the fashion publicist that founded the company People’s Revolution. Her company is a full service public relations, branding and marketing firm located in Los Angeles and New York, with an international office in Paris. Kelly and her team represent monumental brands including Vivienne Westwood, Longchamp, Valentino and Bulgari. In the fashion world, the brands on People’s Revolutions client list are iconic. So what does the PR team do to promote collections that could bring any fashionista to tears? They put the brands on the forefront of fashion. Among other things, fashion publicists book prime time slots at fashion week, make sure the first impressions are spot on and ensure the brand’s image reflects the company as a whole.

From what I can tell, success in fashion is dependent on PR. There are simply too many talented fashion designers in this world to be successful without a concrete PR plan. Exposure is the essence of this industry, and every designer strives to have the press praising his or her collection. For designers to have their couture dress modeled on the red carpet at the Oscars, they need a stylist who works closely with celebrities. To gain access to those coveted stylists, designers need PR firms with connections. Case and point: Rachel Zoe. Zoe is the celebrity stylist turned fashion icon who styled Anne Hathaway in an Atelier Versace gown for the 2011 Oscars. Although Versace is already an established fashion house, each prime time appearance acts as a walking billboard for the brand and helps solidify its spot in fashion’s elite.

Public relations acts as the web that connects all aspects of the fashion industry. The designers create the collections, manufacturers brings ideas to life, models allow us to ogle at the wearable art, stylists create the looks and PR practitioners make sure we never forget.

Now that you’re maxed out on glitz and glam, let’s talk about what I think this all really means:

1. Fashion PR is not your typical nine to five job. The fashion industry is cranking out looks in Paris while we are climbing into our beds in San Francisco. Fashion PR firms count on their employees to be ready to work whenever the clients need them. This could mean dealing with the press, finalizing the lights and music for a show, contacting stylists, doing research, creating a PR plan and remembering countless minute details to ensure a job well done… Even if this means working into the wee hours of the morning.

2. I have to be independent and resourceful. If I plan on working in a fast-paced industry such as fashion PR, I will need to be prepared to get my projects done to my boss’s standards, without having to ask questions every step of the way.

3. I need to be comfortable using all social media platforms. Social media is becoming increasingly more important in PR. With the click of a button, a PR practitioner can send a message to thousands of subscribers. Before the social media push, it was much more difficult to create two-way communication. But now the fashion industry has caught on and designers are using these tools to promote their work and relate to their customers.

4. Fashion is competitive. If this industry wasn’t constantly evolving and introducing new designers and products, there would be no use for public relations. Because there are always competitors waiting in the wings, there is a need for PR practitioners to know what’s going on in the industry. Every designer generally has the same goal: to create beautifully wearable pieces that consumers will buy. Once the designer has reached his or her goal, the PR team has to compel the public to crave its client’s designs more than those of the competitor.

5. Fashion is ever changing. While a Chanel suit will always be timeless, other trends go in and out of style with the blink of an eye. Fashion PR firms are always anticipating the next shift in the industry and are pitching strategies to build their client’s customer base and image. If I want to be successful, I think I’d better make sure I’m evolving alongside the industry.

With some research under my belt, I know more about fashion PR and am thoroughly impressed by how much of an impact public relations has on the industry that I love. By no means is this an easy career path, but over the next year I’ll be sure to stay current and prepare myself to hopefully find a job where I can mix fashion and PR.

“You can fake your way to the table, but ultimately you have to learn how to eat.”

– Kelly Cutrone, “If You Have to Cry, Go Outside”

A little about me:

I’m Laina, a senior at the University of Oregon majoring in public relations. I’m new to the blogging world but am excited to finally have a place to write about the PR side of fashion, music and business. I’m going to let this blog steer me towards the area of PR I want to pursue after graduation. In a few short terms my college career will be over, and I’m hoping to work in PR back at home in San Francisco.