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The Power of PR on Country Singers: Morgan Wallen. Zach Bryan. HARDY. Luke Combs. Carrie Underwood.

Written by Emily Dann

Creative Member

We all know them; some may love them, some may hate them, but at the end of the day, one thing is true, they have some damn good PR teams. Morgan Wallen has said the N-word, slept with college girls, and canceled big shows for a “sore throat”, but still manages to keep fans listening. Zach Bryan took Taylor Swift’s “Ticketmaster” scandal and turned it into an album. I could go on for ages on this topic, but for the sake of this blog, I will be focusing on Morgan Wallen and Zach Bryan.

A few years ago, a video surfaced of Morgan Wallen saying the “N”-word. Due to this, his music was pulled from the radio, his nominations were pulled from the ACM’s (biggest award show in Country Music), and he was dropped by his booking agent. As a result of this video, he lost thousands of fans, as well as countless potential fans. He was forced to basically be silenced and could no longer use his talents to get out of this situation.

About two weeks after the video was released, an apology video came out. He explained how he met with Black leaders and was invited to some Black-owned organizations, as well as how he spoke to Black individuals about how that word has impacted them. He said, “This week, I heard first-hand some personal stories from Black people that honestly shook me, and I know what I’m going through this week doesn’t compare to some of the trials I heard about from them. I came away … with a clearer understanding of the weight of my words.” In his five-minute apology video, he apologizes for his actions and talks about how he will continue to better himself.

People did not immediately respond well to this. Of course, he still lost listeners. However, ten days later, he was named one of Billboard's top 100 for the fifth week in a row, which broke Jason Aldean’s record. In a four-page note posted on social media addressed to his fans, Wallen announced that he would no longer be touring with Luke Bryan and would be focusing on himself for a while. Fast forward a year, Wallen’s “Sand in My Boots” has topped the charts at number one, and he won Album of the Year at ACM Awards (2022). And for now, Wallen is back on the radio, has been picked up by a new booking agent, and is touring once again. However, it hasn’t even been a year since his comeback, and Wallen is back in the headlines. He recently canceled his show two minutes before going on due to a “sore throat,” yet videos have surfaced of him at a sorority house the night before. The rumors circulating media suggest that Wallen went to a sorority house, drank too much, and had to get his stomach pumped. Fans have gone crazy over this. He has lost even more fans as a result. Wallen released a video stating he will be pushing back his tour for six weeks as he has been put on vocal rest. This puts the rumor that he partied too hard to rest, and his fans can rest assured he was not being irresponsible–again.

How does Wallen keep millions of fans after all of this controversy? Well, it’s simple. His PR team is full of geniuses. Seriously, he has a PR team that even Jesus wishes He had. As a fan of Morgan Wallen since the beginning, you can really see how he has changed, thanks to his PR team. He has been coached on how to talk to the camera. He knows how to do his famous one-brow eyebrow raise, and how to make it feel as though he’s having a genuine conversation with you. He also has used his PR team over and over again through these controversies. During the “N”-word scandal, he released multiple apology videos that were over five minutes long. These are PR tactics that fans love. The PR team used “Crisis Management” tactics, and handled the situation perfectly. They also used the “Traditional Publicity Model” by having Wallen do multiple interviews, apologies, and sit downs with Black leaders and professionals. Now, I am not saying Morgan Wallen is back to being a perfect person that young kids should look up to, but when it comes to his PR team, I believe that they handled the situation as best as they could to get Wallen back to his popularity before the incident.

As for Zach Bryan, he used the downfall of another artist to his benefit. After the Taylor Swift scandal with “TicketMaster,” Bryan released an album called “All My Homies Hate TicketMaster”. His album had nothing to do with actual TicketMaster, but he got the attention of millions of people around the country who were feuding with TicketMaster at the time. Bryan’s PR and Advertising team even took this a step further. TicketMaster has a feature where you can resell your tickets at a higher price, which causes people to buy as many tickets as possible and pawn them off on other people for more money. Bryans's team decided that they would not be using TicketMaster for his tour and, instead, used another system that only allowed you to buy four tickets at a time, all for reasonable prices. For instance, I bought a ticket in the front section for his upcoming concert, and I only paid $100 for my tickets. Lastly, to make it fair to all of his fans, he sold his tickets on a lottery system, so you had to “win” a chance to buy them. His PR team promoted this as a way to make it fair and equal to everyone buying the tickets.

So yes, we know them, we hate them, and we love them, but one thing we can all agree on is that Country Music singers have some of the best PR teams in the world.

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