Instagram Is the New Press Release for Celebs and Brands

In a world where speed is paramount amid shortening attention spans and venomous keyboard critics, Instagram is key

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Rihanna, The Rock and Taylor Swift / Don Arnold Wire Image/Art Streiber NBC NBCU/David Crotty Patrick McMullan/Getty Images

Whether used to express outrage or make big announcements, Instagram has become the go-to outlet for celebrities and brands to distribute their headline-making thoughts and news. Just look at Rihanna, Taylor Swift and The Rock, three of the most influential stars in pop culture, who have leveraged the social network to perfection in 2018.

In the past, statements from stars would be typed into a press release and disseminated to journalists and wire services everywhere. Comparatively, the process was relatively slow. Now more than ever before—in a digital world where speed and authenticity of information are paramount amid shortening attention spans and venomous keyboard critics—stars of all fame levels are using Instagram’s feed posts, Insta stories and IGTV videos to reveal personal and career tidbits in an unfiltered fashion.

Let’s take a look at how three A-list celebs have proven Instagram is the new press release, a trend that will only be further solidified in 2019.

Rihanna reacts to Snapchat’s ‘ignorance’

An interactive “Would You Rather” advertisement on Snapchat, which asked app users if they’d rather “slap Rihanna” or “punch Chris Brown,” drew immediate backlash and a swift response from domestic violence survivor Rihanna in March. The nine-time Grammy winner and entrepreneur, who was just named ONE37pm’s Most Entrepreneurial Musicians of 2018, posted a message on her Insta stories rightfully criticizing Snapchat for allowing an ad that made light of her and Brown's past and that gamified abuse.

“All the women, children and men that have been victims of [domestic violence] in the past and especially the ones who haven’t made it out yet, you let us down,” Rihanna wrote on Instagram while Snapchat tried issuing a public apology, but the damage had already been done. “Shame on you. Throw the whole app-oligy away.”

After the offensive incident, Snapchat reportedly loss $800 million as users revolted by deleting the app in defense of Rihanna and as Snap’s stocks dipped in market value. Rihanna’s passionate public response to her more than 60 million Instagram followers, using only simple red text in her Insta stories, was more effective and more real than press releases of yesteryear and the move drummed up enormous media coverage on an issue bigger than herself—to help shed light on insensitive things affecting domestic abuse survivors. Rihanna has also leveraged Instagram to promote her acclaimed Fenty empire of makeup and lingerie with artsy posts and playful videos in her feed and stories, in turn helping her net worth soar to an estimated $260 million this year. 

Taylor Swift announces major industry news

In an important music industry shift, Taylor Swift decided to leave Big Machine Records, a label she has been with for more than a decade, to join the Universal Music Group family. She unveiled the news on Instagram, explaining to 100 million-plus followers and curious journalists that the fresh record deal also affects every artist at the label.

“I feel so motivated by new opportunities in the streaming world and the ever changing landscape of our industry. I also feel strongly that streaming was founded on and continues to thrive based on the magic created by artists, writers and producers,” Swift, a 10-time Grammy winner who has previously fought for fair pay for all artists in the streaming era, wrote on Instagram. “There was one condition that meant more to me than any other deal point. As part of my new contract with [UMG], I asked that any sale of their Spotify shares result in a distribution of money to their artists, non-recoupable. They have generously agreed to this, at what they believe will be much better terms than paid out previously by other major labels.”

Swift doesn't often participate in many press interviews anymore, opting instead to use Instagram and other social platforms to give her opinions directly to her faithful Swifties fan base. She regularly updates her Insta stories while touring to offer behind-the-scenes access and to thank music journalists for their concert reviews. 

The Rock gets personal with his announcements

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson not only adorably Insta announced he and Lauren Hashian were expecting their second child together at the end of 2017, but they followed up this news this year by Insta announcing the birth of that baby, Tiana. 

In the past, and even sometimes now, celebrity media outlets would pay big money for the exclusive pregnancy announcements and first baby photos. But Instagram has put the power in the celebs' hands to unveil their personal news themselves. 

And who knows? Maybe one day The Rock will take a break from his presidential sushi posts to announce his bid for the United States presidency on Instagram.

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