Jessica Fahner

What You Can Learn About PR Strategy from Kylie Jenner

By: Jessica Fahner | April 5, 2018 | 
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Kylie Jenner PR StrategyYou might be (rightly) confused regarding what Kylie Jenner has to do with your PR strategy, but hear me out.

The young reality-star-turned-successful-businesswoman just might know what she’s doing.

Whether you love or hate the Kardashian-Jenner clan, Kylie has strong PR skills that have helped her gain success.

For instance, take her multimillion-dollar cosmetic company, Kylie Cosmetics, which she started at the age of 19.

According to Money Magazine, she’s made 420 million dollars since the company’s conception in 2016.

That’s no easy feat, and if you think any lipstick with ‘Kardashian’ on it will sell, you’d be wrong.

The older Kardashian sisters once tried to launch their own makeup brand, Khroma, but pulled the line following a legal dispute in 2013.

Kylie’s older sister, Kim Kardashian, has since launched her own solo makeup company, KKW Beauty.

The launch of KKW Beauty was suspiciously similar to Kylie’s… as if she mimicked Kylie’s PR strategy to launch a successful cosmetics company.

(Compare the two cosmetic company’s Instagram pages, and you’ll see what I mean.)

So what has the young mogul done differently?

Social Media

Jenner was part of the first generation to grow up in an age of smartphones.

She’s been cultivating a loyal following on social media channels from the start.

As of March 2018, she has 106 million followers on Instagram, and that number is growing.

The young businesswoman gave “sneak peeks” of her company’s products on Snapchat before listing them on her website.

Similar to using a case study, she was able to gauge consumer approval before the products hit her site.

Millennials and Gen Z listen to social media as opposed to traditional ads.

Social media appears organic to her audience.

A PR strategy can thrive from a strong social media presence to communicate with young generations.

And, as we’ve seen with Kylie’s pregnancy announcement, social media can be a key tool used in crisis management.

Influencers

Given the diversity of younger generations, the one-size-fits-all marketing approach no longer works.

Yet, Jenner has been strategically marketing to those elusive millennials.

Kylie and her team send media kits to influencers with a loyal following on YouTube or social media.

Influencers are a great way for brands to mimic an organic word-of-mouth spirit.

This PR generates public interest if you get enough influencers talking on social.

You can find beauty tutorials and reviews of Kylie Cosmetics all over the internet.

And whether the reviews are good or bad, people are talking about them.

Most 18-30 year olds are more likely to buy something if a trusted source recommends a product.

Money is most likely tight for those ages, so they are less likely to impulse buy unless there is confidence with a purchase.

Influencers further fuel product launches by generating excitement.

If someone you trust is recommending a product that you can’t have because it sold out, you’re going to want it.

Product Launches

Kylie Cosmetics generates a lot of excitement by quickly “selling out.”

Kylie’s lipsticks sold out within 30 seconds of the first heavily anticipated and very publicized launch.

The launch of each new product that sold out quickly created hype that Millennials and Gen Z couldn’t resist.

(If you’re a fan of Apple products, this PR strategy might sound familiar.)

Their limited edition holiday line was the most successful to date and even integrated a limited edition pop-up shop event.

Timing is Everything

But it’s not just make-up that she’s selling. In fact, she’s also selling her brand.

Kylie finally addressed pregnancy rumors and announced the birth of her daughter on Sunday, February 4th, 2018, via Instagram…the same day of the 2018 Super Bowl.

While it might seem counterintuitive to make such an important announcement during a significant televised event, it was a very smart move on her part.

According to Huffington Post, Millennials don’t care about the Super Bowl.

In fact, they’re just watching it for the commercials.

And guess what they’re doing during the rest of the game when they’re not watching the commercials?

That’s right! They’re on their phones, probably scrolling through their feed on Instagram where they follow Kylie’s account.

Kylie didn’t use a news release to announce her pregnancy.

Instead, she chose to use Instagram as her medium, which again fostered the feeling of authenticity, and made the whole thing seem more organic as opposed to a publicity event.

It may or may not have been, but it didn’t feel like one to her audience.

At the time this article was written, her pregnancy announcement totaled 10,645,512 likes on Instagram.

Crisis Communications Management

Kylie is no stranger to PR blunders, but has managed crises well.

Kylie Jenner’s pregnancy at the age of 20 might seem like a PR nightmare but instead was generally well-received without controversy.

For nine months Kylie Jenner pregnancy rumors circulated, and for nine months her brand and company benefited from the onslaught of media coverage.

By neither confirming or denying pregnancy rumors, Kylie, again, created a lot of excitement around her name and brand, while her sales didn’t take a hit.

In addition to her announcement, Kylie also released a video titled “To Our Daughter” documenting her pregnancy.

Thus, gifting the public moments they missed throughout those private nine months.

If that 11-minute documentary isn’t some quality PR storytelling, then I don’t know what is.

The YouTube video received 63.3 million views.

And she also issued an apology for her secrecy, providing an explanation that felt authentic and genuine.

How Can You Apply This to Your Own PR Strategy

Whatever your opinion of the Kardashians,  Kylie Jenner is someone you’ll want to keep your eye on, especially if you’re trying to reach millennials or Gen Z.

As a current trendsetter, Kylie’s strategies are a good indicator of where the fields of PR and marketing might be heading.

The following is Kylie’s formula for success:

  1. Social media use. Cultivating a following is extremely important if you want to make a genuine connection with Millennials. This means engaging with your audience on social media as opposed to occasionally posting. Like Kylie, you can also use social media in place of a news release or to supplement one. When Kylie was big on Snapchat, I would mimic her communication styles, and I was able to increase the number of people who watched my Snapstory.
  2. Influencers. Influencers help spread the word about your campaign in an organic way. Kylie’s target audience responds well to campaigns that feel organic and natural. Think something that doesn’t necessarily feel like a news release or an ad. It’s also a great way to engage with your audience.
  3. Scarcity and hype. Creating excitement and hype around her PR strategy is arguably the most notable. Apple has been using this strategy for years. Any big release where you have the opportunity to make it an event, possibly even emphasizing limited supplies, is going to be attractive to Millennials. I buy into those types of big release events all the time. People ultimately want what they can’t have.
  4. Crisis planning and readiness. I’m still reeling after Kylie’s pregnancy and baby announcement. It was pretty genius. Her Kardashian-Jenner family is known for being unnecessarily open and public about their lives, but she surprised everyone by remaining silent. And that silence proved withholding a release can also create publicity.
  5. Learn as much as you can about your Millennial audience. This one can be tricky. Kylie Jenner is a lucky individual who not only has the money to start her own business at a young age, but is also in the advantageous position of being part of the generation that she is targeting. By definition, she has insider knowledge. You can do the same by hiring the right people and staying in touch with your audience(s).

It’s important to keep tabs on how people like Kylie Jenner are communicating.

And people are definitely keeping tabs.

This past February, Kylie tweeted that Snapchat was no longer her favorite app and Snapchat’s stock took a hit.

To stay up-to-date on the fast-changing habits of millennials, dive head first into social media.

Equally, ask young family members who they follow on social.

Even elementary school kids have a favorite app they use or influencer they follow.

This formula isn’t guaranteed to get you Kylie-Jenner success, but it’s a good place to start if you’re targeting a younger audience.

If the results are any indicator of where the industry is heading, you should include these strategies in your next PR strategy.

About Jessica Fahner


Jess Fahner is a recent graduate of Saint Mary's College of California, in the Bay Area of San Francisco. Jess is a writer and editor who communicates effectively with target audiences through strategic brand management and PR campaigns. She is a poised and competent team player and a natural leader who thrives in fast-paced environments.

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