In October 2016, Donald Trump experienced his own scandal when audio of his conversation with Billy Bush during the filming of Access Hollywood revealed his "grab them by the pussy" comment. The audio leaked before the second presidential debate, and many believed that this leaked audio was the death blow to his election campaign. This post will look at how the two biggest stan wars of 2016 became national news, and how the individuals whose careers were supposed to be ended by their respective audio leak scandals were able to flip the script on the narrative and come out more successful than before.
TL;DR - By cultivating a
Step 1) Let all your fans know that the media always treats you unfairly
Both Taylor Swift and Donald Trump have lamented over the fact that the media treats them unfairly. Taylor Swift released a whole album (1989) in response to the media and what she saw as a possibly career-ending backlash over the fact that her dating history had become a national joke. Throughout his whole election campaign, Donald Trump spoke out against the corrupt establishment media and how they never treated him fairly, often referring to them as "fake news." Donald Trump and Taylor Swift were able to create an alternative narrative to counter their enemy's narrative by letting their supporters know that their greatest enemy (the media) is and always will be against them, so that makes the media biased and untrustworthy.
Step 2) Give your fans direct access to you through social media, intimate private gatherings, and huge public events to maintain loyalty
In order to help show how "biased" the media is against them, both Taylor Swift and Donald Trump have made themselves readily available to their fanbase through interaction on social media, as well as through big public gatherings (Swift's concerts and Trump's rallies) all across the country. By showing fans they are easy to reach and very receptive to their feedback, Donald Trump and Taylor Swift made their followers feel like they have a special relationship with them that the media doesn't have. Through this relationship of "trust" where fans get to know the "real" person without the media's "biased" filter, Donald Trump and Taylor Swift's followers became more loyal and radicalized.
Taylor Swift uses a social media team known as "Taylor Nation" and she will sometimes invite fans over to her house to build loyalty, while Donald Trump uses political rallies to meet his supporters face-to-face and employs a social media team to interact with followers. You will see "Taylor Swift" liking posts from fans either to show that she agrees with the sentiment or appreciates their support, which is what "Donald Trump" does whenever he retweets a conservative meme or responds to something a follower said.
Step 3) When your public image is damaged, release a statement and then blame the media in order to rally your followers in support of you
Taylor Swift and Donald Trump were completely caught by surprise after leaked audio exposing them became national news. They both released statements blaming the media: Taylor Swift said that the she was "falsely being painted as a liar" and that this was "character assassination," while Donald Trump apologized, but not before saying that the media was being dishonest and unfair to him since they refused to talk about the allegations against Bill Clinton. Donald Trump was able to turn around the accusation that he promoted "fake news" by accusing the media of being "fake news" that constantly lied about him. Taylor Swift went on to announce an album with the on-the-nose title "Reputation" by using a snake in promo videos in order to flip the narrative on the snake nickname which Kim Kardashian had given Taylor to show that she is a liar. The album cover also features Taylor Swift's name as newspaper headlines, alluding to the "fake news" she tells her fans is constantly surrounding her life.
In order to measure the success of their push back against the negative press they received last year, one can only look at where Donald Trump and Taylor Swift are today: Donald Trump became the 45th President of the United States, and Taylor Swift's latest single "Look What You Made Me Do" is already breaking records and looking to debut with some of her biggest first week numbers. Both Donald and Taylor don't seem to be stopping anytime soon, as Donald Trump has held multiple campaign-style rallies since becoming POTUS, and Taylor Swift has just announced another massive tour that encourages her fans to interact, post, and buy merch in order to get better access to her. Donald Trump and Taylor Swift continue to experience success due to the fact that they've helped to create such loyal followings.
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