What can Korean pop music tell us about great communications?

by Stratton Craig

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It’s summertime, so naturally I’m cranking out the tunes to keep my mind inspired and creative. My fellow writer, Kady, has recently introduced me to K-Pop – Korean pop music. These tunes are impossibly catchy, and almost addictive to listen to. Try as I might, I can’t get them out of my head.
After watching a few K-Pop videos on the internet, I began to notice a similar theme – perfection. Every single band in every single video moves with effortless grace, is styled to within an inch of their lives and sport various trendy haircuts. The video sets are impeccably designed: edgy props dominate icy white studio settings and faux-attitude drips from every costume change and pair of hi-top trainers or designer sunglasses. Try as I might, I can’t find fault with any of these unashamedly sparkly affairs.
The intriguing thing is that this is exactly the emotion that K-Pop is designed to evoke in me – with emphasis on the design. You see, a little digging around the web opens up a world of crazed K-Pop fans, multi-billion dollar revenues and occasionally suspicious cover ups. What has become apparent is this: K-Pop acts are almost entirely manufactured; members undergo years of ‘training’ before debuting to the public, are impeccably styled (each band member usually with an individual, kitchy twist) and sing songs that have been written, recorded and mixed by confident music magicians. Lyrics are never overly provocative but often include a hook in English. There’s even some controversy: a number of female K-Pop artists have undergone surgery to look a little more ‘acceptable’ in the eyes of fans who both adore and emulate them.
So, what’s the connection to communications? Well, what my investigation (hard as it was) into the K-Pop industry taught me is that getting the message absolutely right, down to the last detail, gives you the best chance of getting the return you want. Sure, K-Pop acts might have to have their nose reshaped, their personal style eliminated and their voices digitally altered, but the end result is a well-oiled machine that keeps people musically happy and doesn’t mind taking some of their cash. This same principal can be applied to business comms in the UK: figure out what your message is and who it’s aimed at, then craft a carefully-honed message that hits home every time. After all, delivering targeted communications that give both customers and corporates exactly what they want is music to everyone’s ears.

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