Taylor Swift's media mistake

26 November 2015

Taylor Swift’s media mistake

The failure of Taylor Swift to front up and acknowledge that too many vehicles were on Bethells Beach on Monday for her photo shoot has guaranteed that all media coverage around the issue is negative.

Her crew were permitted to have two vehicles on the beach, but arrived in 12. The restriction is in place to protect the endangered dotterel birds that live on the beach.

The issue has blown up on social media and that anger has now spilled into traditional media.

When contacted by media, her record label refused to comment and she could not be reached in Queenstown.

What should she have done?

She needs to take ownership of the mistake. Even if it wasn't her personal mistake, it was her photo shoot and she is the brand. The first thing to do in a situation like this is to front up and apologise. People are more concerned how you react to an issue like this than they are about the initial mistake. By refusing to comment or not being available, you give the impression you either don’t care or are guilty as charged.

Remember in the court of public opinion you are guilty until proven innocent, not the other way around.

At the very least she should have apologised through a statement. It would be far better to front up personally, but as a bare minimum, a statement would prevent every story being 100 percent negative.

If I was advising her, I’d also suggest pledging some money towards protecting the dotterels. She could also highlight how important animal protection is to her. Few people would know she actually supports a charity in this niche.

This is one of those situations where a negative issue could be turned around. By saying sorry, pledging support and highlight what she already does for animals, she could have grown her reputation rather than dented it.

She may still do this, but it’s to late now. The negative story is out, it’s all over social media and people have already made up their minds about it.

Someone in her management team needs to be monitoring these things with the power to respond almost immediately.

For more on my media training, contact or 029 200 8555.

Filed under Media Training

Written by

Pete is a leading New Zealand media trainer and regular blogger for his company, Media Training NZ . He has helped leaders from all sectors of society communicate with the media and other stakeholders. Pete is a former daily newspaper reporter and press secretary in the New Zealand government. From these roles, he understands the media process from both sides of the camera.

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