What can J. Cole teach us about PR?

What can J. Cole teach us about PR?

In the months before the release of his third album, 2014 Forest Hills Drive, up-and-coming rapper J. Cole opted to forego traditional promotional stunts in favor of a more unconventional approach.

Cole’s sole publicity was a documentary-style video released just days before the album.

In its first week, 2014 Forest Hills Drive sold 354,000 copies, dramatically outperforming the 2014 albums of hip-hop veterans like Rick Ross and Nicki Minaj. During the same period, it was streamed 15.7 million times on Spotify, shattering the record previously held by One Direction.

So what can J. Cole’s promotional strategy teach us about PR?

For one, it teaches us that timeliness can beat volume. Minaj and Ross inundated consumers with promotional efforts. They released singles, filmed video teasers, went on promotional tours, and more, but their album sales still paled in comparison to Cole’s.

In much the same way, the right pitch to an editor at the right time can get your piece placed faster than a hundred poorly-timed pitches.

To make a timely pitch, though, requires patience and attentiveness. You must stay up to date on the news and, when there are stories relevant to your industry, be ready to pitch your perspective — and pitch it fast.

To be sure, there are times when the Nicki Minaj approach is more appropriate. But when developing your PR strategy, always be sure to keep J. Cole in mind.

Spencer Caton