Be more Bowie: Lessons for the PR industry from the master of reinvention

"I don't know where I'm going from here, but I promise it won't be boring." Boring is not a word you would ever associate with David Bowie, writes Tony Garner of Viva PR.

David Bowie poses beside his Rolls Royce in May 1973 (credit: AP/EMPICS/PA)
David Bowie poses beside his Rolls Royce in May 1973 (credit: AP/EMPICS/PA)
If the secret to success is constantly adapting to change and actively embracing it, here was a guy who had it nailed.

From exotic space alien to skinny white soul boy, from the hard rock of Tin Machine to the jazz influence sound of his latest single, he understood perfectly the value of evolving to remain relevant. 

A master of reinvention and innovation, he foresaw the power of engaging with audiences via the internet as early as 1998, creating his own internet service provider where fans could access music, information and share ideas and views. 

In a world where the pace of change is ever more rapid, being ‘more Bowie’ can help businesses achieve success and remain ahead of their competitors. 

So how can you ‘be more Bowie’? 

1. Be inspired Bowie’s influences were endless: film, art, theatre and music were all absorbed, processed and reimagined to inform his work. Looking at the changes happening outside your own industry and adapting them to your own work can be a great way to come up with fresh, groundbreaking ideas. 

2. Innovate A working class boy from Bromley, Bowie proved it’s possible to be whatever you want to be, changing his persona and sound time and time again throughout his career. Once you find a business model that works it’s easy to stick to it, because it’s comfortable, but diversifying, adapting to meet changing customer tastes or incorporating new technology into your work can be key to ensuring your business remains successful. 

3. Collaborate Working with artists as diverse as Brian Eno and Nile Rodgers as well as photographers, choreographers and designers, Bowie understood that he needed a great team to help make his vision reality. The same is true of any business: surrounding yourself with people who share your goal and have the skills and drive to help you achieve it is vital to help you get your business where you really want it to be. 

Bowie’s new material emerged within weeks of the announcement that his chart contemporaries, the Bay City Rollers, had reformed.

But while the Rollers trotted out the tired old hits and tartan, Bowie delivered something completely new, again. Ask yourself: who do you want to be? 

Tony Garner is managing director of Viva PR

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