Published on February 6, 2018, at 6:05 p.m.
by Allie Binford.
Rupi Kaur’s “Milk and Honey” has sold over 1 million copies and has snagged a 41-week streak on The New York Times Best Sellers list since its first publication in 2014. If you’re a 20-something female like me, this accomplishment probably comes as no surprise to you. Kaur’s philosophical stanzas have likely graced your Instagram feed more than once or twice. But this level of success for a book of poetry is unprecedented in the 21st century.
As public relations practitioners, we could learn a thing or two from this Instapoet’s success. Kaur’s use of social media to share and promote her poetry is a unique example of impactful and effective communication. Below, I discuss three important values we can take away from Kaur and implement into daily practice.
Find your voice.
Know your audience, but also know yourself (or your brand). Tailoring your content to your target
demographic is essential, but you have to stay true to your core values. Not every trend or fad will align with your brand, and that’s OK. Capitalize on the ones that do.
The majority of Kaur’s fan base is comprised of women in their teens and 20s who feel validated when Kaur is able to manifest their unspeakable emotions into words. With that knowledge, Kaur could write about love and loss for the rest of her life and maintain a secure following. But Kaur continues to push the envelope with her work, taking on deeper and darker issues that may not resonate with every member of her audience.
Don’t be afraid to speak up.
Controversy can be your best ally. Kaur posted a photo of herself on Instagram, fully clothed, with blood stains on her pants and bed sheets. The photo was removed twice from the social media platform due to supposedly violating the site’s community standards. Kaur took this unjust removal as an opportunity to publicly take a stance on an issue important to her (and consequently, her brand).
“[I] will not apologize for not feeding the ego and pride of misogynist society that will have my body in an underwear but not be okay with a small leak,” Kaur said in a post on Instagram on March 24, 2015.
Of course, her photo was met with mixed feedback, but it stirred enough intrigue to generate headlines across the world.
Controversy, if approached in an intentional and intelligent way, can expand your brand’s audience and strengthen your image.
Consistency is key.
Once you find your niche, own it. When it comes to creating an online presence, find the piece of your brand that makes it unique and incorporate it across every platform.
Kaur’s poetry is known for its monochromatic, minimalistic typography and sketches. Her work is branded so seamlessly that it is recognizable without attribution. Kaur’s simple artwork not only graces the pages and covers of her books, but she also incorporates it into her advertisements and announcements across her social media channels. By finding her signature style, Kaur established and now maintains a unified presence.