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Posted At: March 11, 2013 2:05 P.M.
by Katie Sanders

When you think about public relations, you should immediately think of relationships. Even someone uninvolved in the industry knows that PR deals with the media, consumers, employees or other important publics. Building and maintaining relationships is the go-to definition that has forever been embedded in my brain when trying to describe my future industry.

So why do these relationships matter? How can everyone benefit from public relations even if you aren’t in the communications industry?

Let’s take tween pop sensation Justin Bieber as our example of what not to do in public relations.

The Introduction
Every relationship starts with an introduction. In the case of a potential or new client, you introduce yourself with the intention of making a lasting impression. Authenticity is often an important factor in gaining the trust of your target audience or client, in order to form the relationship you want.

In Bieber’s case, he had the added benefit of his network connections (mentor and close friend Usher) to boost his authenticity and progress to stardom.

Building the Relationship
From there, Bieber grew his brand and did an impressive job marketing himself. His wholesome and humble attitude toward fame resulted in the explosion of his fan base. It wasn’t just tweens who caught the “Bieber Fever.” Even some of my close friends, who are well past their teenage years, were closeted “Beliebers” (That’s the official term for fans of Justin Bieber for the non-“Beliebers.” See, great branding!).

Building presence and recognition for your client is essential to target publics, whether it’s fans and the media in Bieber’s case, or employees and consumers for a particular business.

Maintaining the Relationship
It’s not enough to make the initial introduction to the public. You must continue to maintain the two-way communication with your audience in order to prevent losing donors, consumers or employees.

Here’s where Justin Bieber is a walking “what not to do.” In 2008, he was a poster PR child. Now in 2013, Bieber has a classic case of child star gone wrong.

Just take last week. Bieber is currently on a world tour. His London stint has been plagued with problems. He started a concert two hours late, then the next night was unable to finish due to illness. He hit the trifecta when he fought with the London papparazzi and later tweeted about his unbecoming behavior in an off-handed fashion.

Here’s the obvious take-home lesson: fighting with your target audience (the media) in public isn’t going to help maintain a positive relationship.

Offending an audience fuels dissent and problems. If there is an incident, apologies are always expected. Downplaying an argument or disagreement causes you or your client to lose your acquired brand-authenticity.

Resting on your previous good behavior and accomplishments will eventually catch up to you. In Bieber’s case, his actions have resulted in questions and concerns from fans and their parents.

No matter if it’s the first day of the relationship or after the honeymoon phase has ended, it’s vital to work hard to make that lasting and positive impression.


  1. Post comment

    I think Justin Bieber is slowly spiraling down hill. He used to be the “poster child” for what kids raised well look like. Justin’s PR team needs to make some serious changes to him and his image before it takes a turn for the worst. If he continues on this path he is on, he is going to end up like the countless child stars that have come before him, such as Lindsay Lohan and Macaulay Culkin.

  2. Post comment

    Justin Beiber is losing his image as the PR poster boy he once was. His PR team needs to intervene and attempt to clean up his image or at least improve it. He risks turning out like the countless child stars whose reputations go downhill ask they age.


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