public relations aretha franklin

Aretha Franklin, commonly called “the Queen of Soul,” died on August 16, the anniversary of the death of the King of Rock, Elvis Presley. This left music fans mourning two timeless entertainment icons. And it left many people discussing the legacy of one of the most prolific women, ever, in the music business.

We won’t discuss Aretha’s incredible legacy. Others have done that, and they’ve done that very well. What we will do is look at how Ms. Franklin developed her magnetic diva persona and cultivated her brand, making it a rise above countless others in the same industry.

Aretha Created a Standout Brand

Whether you were introduced to Aretha Franklin through her many hits, her soul records or her star-making performance in The Blues Brothers, which has been turning millions of new fans on to Aretha for generations, there is no doubt that the singer created a standout brand. After all, she’s in that rarified air of recording artists who are easily recognized by just one name: Bono, Cher, Madonna… Aretha. There are just not that many people famous enough to be instantly recognized in a single word. From day one, she had a signature sound, a signature presence, and a signature delivery. There were many female soul singers, but there were precious few like Aretha. She knew who she was, and she absolutely owned it.

Aretha Made People Feel

Whether or not you liked her genre of music, listening to Aretha made you feel something, strongly and deeply. When she sang, you responded emotionally. That was the strength of her passion, her delivery, and her signature presence. If your brand isn’t creating strong feelings in your target market, you’re doing it wrong. Your message should impact people, leave them feeling something, so they do something.

Aretha Connected When Others Divided

During one of the most contentious times in recent American history, Aretha managed to speak out without dividing. She was very involved in the fight for Civil Rights, as were many other stars in that time, but she managed to live in both worlds – politics and entertainment – without alienating her fan base. How can your brand bring people together? How can you connect groups that may otherwise not be connected? Manage that, and you exponentially grow your market potential.

Aretha’s Messages Were Relatable

Think about some of Aretha’s most famous hits: Respect, Natural Woman, Chain of Fools, so many others. They were relatable. Her fans heard them and instantly connected, because they understood. Total strangers, who had never heard Aretha before heard the songs and they felt that someone knew them. This woman was singing their heart, their emotions, and their experiences. She was their voice. How can your brand be a voice for your target market? How can you answer a call or connect in a relatable way?

Aretha’s legacy will last in music for generations, and her lessons in how to build and manage a brand offers us much wisdom as well.

5WPR CEO Ronn Torossian

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Ronn Torossian is the Founder, President and CEO of New York-based 5W Public Relations. He has overseen the company's rapid growth and expansion to the Inc. 500 list, as well as provided counsel to hundreds of companies, including members of the Fortune 500, Inc. 500 and Forbes 400. His work spans global interests, corporate entities, high-profile individuals, regional business entities, government agencies and academic institutions - both on routine public relations matters and extremely sensitive issues. One of the foremost public relations experts in the U.S., Torossian is known for his aggressive, results-focused orientation, as well as his close working relationships with members of the media, influencers, decision makers, politicians and celebrities. At 5W Public Relations, Torossian's client experience has included programs for Coca-Cola, Microsoft, Anheuser-Busch, Barnes & Noble, Cantor Fitzgerald, IHOP, McDonald's, Evian, EDS, VeriSign, XM Radio, Seagram's, The Loews Regency, Bad Boy Worldwide Entertainment, Marriott Hotels, Vail Resorts, Pamela Anderson, Snoop Dogg, the Government of Israel, and others. Referred to by The New York Post as a "publicity guru," by Fox News as a "high-powered PR CEO," by Tyra Banks as a "crisis management guru," and by CNN as "a leading PR expert," Torossian is regularly featured in and quoted by the media, including by CNN, Fox News Channel, MSNBC, NBC, The New York Times, and others. CBS National News said "Ronn Torossian knows spin," and a New York Times feature story on Torossian referred to him as "The consummate hard-driving, scrappy NY publicist." Earlier in his career, Torossian was a Vice President/Group Director for one of The InterPublic Group's (IPG) largest PR agencies, where he was responsible for significant client growth and successful client programs, including work for Clinique, Fox News Channel, DHL, Hard Rock Café and others. A resident of Manhattan’s Upper West Side, Torossian was named to the Advertising Age "40 Under 40" list, PR Week's "40 Under 40" List, is a regular lecturer at universities and conferences, a member of Young Presidents Organization (YPO) and a board member of numerous non-profit organizations.


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