PR + Social
3 brilliant PR strategies behind Adele's new album launch
Hello, it’s me.
Ryann Guglielmo, a publicist based in Rochester, NY—aspiring to be Adele’s publicist.
I would love being her international publicist, media training her before every interview, jumping into action if a crisis broke out at one of her concerts, managing her next Oprah interview and Vogue cover, and traveling the globe on her concert tours. (My 3-year-old can come, too, right?) “You could totally be Adele’s publicist!” my friends reassure me. “I know, I know,” I say.
While that would be an absolute dream, I know it’s just not in the cards for me because her current publicist isn’t going anywhere—and for good reason.
Adele’s publicist is good. Based on the marketing and PR strategy for her newest album—“30,” released November 19—they’re really, really good.
So while I might not be Adele’s publicist in this lifetime, I can share three key lessons from her album’s (teaser) launch that we all can use in our own marketing campaigns.
Rumour Has It—PR Strategy 1: Build Excitement
In October 2021, Adele announced on social media that she was dropping a new record in November. But her announcement came with more than just a release date: It came with a teaser. In a simple 21-second, black-and-white video, she teased her latest single, “Easy on Me,” which would come out October 15. All it showed was Adele putting a cassette tape into a car stereo and driving off—so simple, but it left us wanting more.
Thanks to that video, we’re not only counting down the days to the full album, but getting even more excited for the teaser song a month earlier. That’s two PR opportunities for the sake of one announcement. Good thinking, Adele’s publicist!
The marketing team posted the news on social media and at the same time bought billboards around the globe. Fans knew the teal blue on the billboards was yet another part of the album launch. She matched her social media accounts to the blue billboard creative. Today, her website matches the teal blue, and features a prominent and vulnerable letter detailing the why and how behind “30.” She used both marketing tools—website, social media, video content, billboards, news stories and more—and details from the teaser track to announce her new album. Tip: consider what media your own target media consumes, and use it, and don’t neglect your own website.
See? I told you her publicist isn’t going anywhere.
Turning Tables—PR Strategy 2: Offer Premium Content
There was no turning tables at Adele’s November 14 special, “Adele One Night Only.” The two-hour event on CBS aired just five days before the album launch and featured an exclusive interview with Adele, previews of the album and highlights of her greatest hits. And it was positioned as a “one night only” event—strong words in marketing.
“One night only” tells you: “Don’t miss out,” “Don’t be late,” “This is a special one-time-only promotion that you can’t get anywhere else.”
Aside from securing the strategic placement on CBS Sunday (and streaming on Paramount+), Adele’s publicist had to prep the Grammy winner for her exclusive interview and manage all interview requests before, the day of and following “One Night Only” … all leading up to the day fans were waiting for: the big launch.
So when it makes sense, consider using phrases like “one night only.” It ties back to Strategy #1 above, too. The Search Engine Journal agrees that boosting the sense of urgency in your marketing is the way to go and triggering the fear of missing out (FOMO) is a powerful way to drive conversations and sales. But it’s best used in moderation. Adele’s team did, and it’s paying off.
All I Ask—PR Strategy 3: Lean Into Your Strengths
We’re talking about Adele here: Her voice is magic. Her brand is epic. The world knows and loves her. Her brand is the kid we all aspire to be like, because whether you’re a fan or not, you can’t argue with brand awareness. Adele could market and promote her “product” all day long, but if a product isn’t good in the first place, there’s no point in marketing at all.
Adele’s brand, like her voice and her music, appears effortless. But the marketing behind it is strategic and intentional. It’s magic in its own right. And the truly unique and stellar product that’s being marketed and promoted is why it’s all a success. Not only does Adele have a great product, but she leans into her own strengths as a musician, writer, singer and performer. She’s authentic and unapologetic for who she is—and for her own story. Adele is true to her brand (true to herself), moves at her own pace (she’s released only three albums in 14 years). And all brands can—and should—use this authentic approach in their own marketing efforts.
The bottom line: Adele’s PR and marketing teams worked strategically, clearly planned and thought of every detail, and made sure every tactic and promotion was part of a bigger plan. “30’s” pre-launch was beautifully executed. And remember, quality over quantity. As a publicist, I can say for certain her team sees ways it could have been better. But from a consumer and fan perspective, it’s been pretty perfect.
And that’s something you should remember, too. Your campaign launch might not be perfect. And it doesn’t have to be. But it should be memorable. Did your work reach and resonate with your target audience? If so, be proud.
Adele, if you’re reading this and want to welcome me on your PR team, give me a call! As long as my son can travel the world with us, count me in and I’ll manage your next album launch. I’ll even start strategizing now. But I have a feeling you’re already in some pretty great hands.
PS—“30” came out November 19. If you tuned in, I’d love to hear from you. I’m @RyannEliz on Twitter! What did you think about her PR campaign, and which new songs do you love the most?
Ryann Guglielmo is DS+CO’s director of public relations, amplifying her clients’ stories and putting the right message in front of the right people.