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Truly making Lemonade. Four things we can learn about handling bad press from Beyoncé’s Lemonade

by Laurie Nelson
Jul
05
2016

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes, 54 seconds

Summer is finally here, but we didn’t have to wait for the heat to rise to start sippin’ on Beyoncé’s lemonade. Back in April, the queen herself began releasing five to seven second promos of the ambiguous “Lemonade,” set to premier on April 23 exclusively on HBO. With no indication of what was to come on this holy day for members of the B-Hive, fans tuned in with anticipation and Twitter accounts at the ready as they prepared for the big event.

The hour-long feature was essentially Beyoncé addressing rumors that had been flying since 2014’s Elevatorgate, when sister (and defender of Beyoncé’s honor), Solange Knowles, attacked Jay-Z in an elevator. Initial speculation of Jay-Z’s infidelity began circulating, which inspired two years’ worth of material for the rumor mill. Everything from cheating and divorce, to Blu Ivy becoming a big sister, was thrown around.

Finally, by calling out “Becky with the good hair” Beyoncé confirmed that Jay-Z had been sneaking around with at least one other woman, but reassured fans there would not be a divorce… this time. However, in Queen B fashion, it wasn’t enough to sit down with Entertainment Tonight and discuss the matter. Nope, she went big and went home with millions more than before. While I am not a member of the B-Hive myself, I will admit that, from a PR standpoint, this was brilliant. Here are four things we can learn from how Beyoncé took the bad press about her and her marriage and made “Lemonade:”

  1. Don’t stay silent for too long: It may have taken two years for confirmation one way or another, but nonetheless Beyoncé didn’t stay silent when part of her brand was attacked. By breaking the silence you’re at least letting your audience know you are aware of the situation and listening to what your consumers have to say.
  2. Be transparent: B.K. from Texas was honest and transparent with her viewers about what was true and what wasn’t. Providing transparency in a time of crisis or bad press will create trust between you and your audience.
  3. Use a reliable source to get your message across: Unfortunately, we don’t all have the luxury of HBO at our disposal to address our viewers (plus, it’s paid media... duh). However, providing exclusivity to a well-respected channel with a large audience reach will give you the means of communicating to exactly who you want to.
  4. Rely on your loyal customers: Alongside the HBO special, she also dropped the album available exclusively on Tidal, which Jay-Z just happens to own. So even though her fans were mad at Mr. Carter, they couldn’t turn down an opportunity to support his better half. Beyoncé’s worker-bees also quickly took to social media in defense of their Queen. In a time of bad press or need, rely on your brand advocates to support you. Rather it be on social media or through a promotion, offer them an opportunity to be an ambassador to help build your brand back up and brush off the haters.  

Experiencing a time of bad press can seem unending and like there is no way out. But with a good plan and support team, it’s possible to take your lemons and turn them into lemonade.

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