How Pandora successfully uses public relations as their company grows

Upgrading a company is one of the most important aspects to success in a business. I’m sure many of you have a Pandora account and have noticed the new and improved features. All I could think about when I opened my account was, “wow, they sure are growing and are not going to be replaced anytime soon.” Not only is Pandora new and improved with many features they also had several genius ideas.

Some of the new features include a modern look and feel, but also making it easier to navigate through the website. Pandora’s representatives deserve some credit in my opinion. The new Pandora now, has a social networking option. You can make a profile and communicate with other members along with finding similar artists, by allowing you to sample their songs. This new social networking feature will be useful to the company. Helping them reach out to Pandora members and possibly promote even more. Social networking is growing so rapidly and Pandora saw a great opportunity.

Pandora is not only providing a new and improved site, they are also providing you with more advertisements. Yes, they had plenty of advertisements for free members in the past, but now the new site is
loaded with them. The background is one big ad or the site has longer trailers playing after songs. One nice change however, is more songs are played in-between commercials compared to before, or commercials aren’t played at all. It all depends on what they are promoting that day. The founder of Pandora speaks about the upgrades in this informational video.

So far, Pandora has 82 million users and is making $77 million from advertisement companies and $12.2 million from members. Making the advertisements bigger and better is a great way to make more revenue, because more firms will want to invest their money in the website. Pandora is in a win-win situation, because if a member doesn’t want to hear or see all the ads they are motivated to purchase an annual account, allowing more options and zero commercials and advertisements.

Either way, Pandora is making money and still giving back. They are giving advertisement firms a place to display their ads and giving their members new and improved options. Pandora
used Public Relations is all the right ways. Changing and improving their site, accommodating to their members, while still making an excellent profit. Genius!

~Taylor Maguire

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32 thoughts on “How Pandora successfully uses public relations as their company grows

    • think PR is aware of the new competition that could be available and they want to offer more and keep their members happy and interested. Yes, I mentioned that they have new types of Ads, but I personally like them better than before and if people do not like the new change its more of an incentive to purchase a membership. Putting Ad’s up is beneficial to both Pandora and the firms, but the firms are supplying mass amounts of money to keep them so successful, allowing them to make better changes.

      ~Taylor

  1. Agree with Gina! This is excellent advertisement for the companies whose ads are featured on the site, but what would have been the job of the PR people in this situation? I get the point you were making about the music being played longer, and there being less commercials in between each song, but is that just to make up for the fact that the site is now one huge advertisement?

    • It could possibly be because the site is one large advertisement now. I don’t think its all about the Ad’s. It’s about the upgrade and keeping up with the competition and satisfying the member. I saw the ad’s as an excellent way to make money. It’s helpful for the advertisers, but Pandora is also winning because their making so much money.

  2. I find it a little ironic that you say “providing you with more advertisements,” because I HATE all of the online ads now! But I can’t really complain because of the free service – just saying, I don’t enjoy the ads. It’s smart on the part of Pandora to make money, but I don’t think they’re really worried about how the consumer actually feels…I would bet most people think that the ads are just as annoying as I said. In fact, offering to pay for the service seems a little silly because there are many other online radio stations that are free and adless, as well as websites like Youtube and Playlist.com that offer suggestions without ads (as long as you’re not on YT’s VEVO channel). Apparently, people spend 2 weeks in their life on average watching TV commercials – I’m sure the number has grown now because of online ads. However, from the PR aspect, Pandora is definitely doing a great job. I’m just not a big fan because I think the suggestions are less-than-stellar…but that’s just me. (:

    -Silvana

  3. I agree comercials tend to be over kill. However, this new pandora has less trailers inbetween the songs and their still the most popular out there. More are up and coming and i saw the PR practioners seeing the competition and changing and improving their site to better fit their customers liking. Also, adding the social networking option is nice because they can help predict what other music you’ll enjoy based on your liked stations. They do have a new look and just like what we talked about in class with facebook, people will get bored, and it keeps people interested, bringing in more visits and members. The public relations reps are finding new ways to appeal to their audience. Yes, they are adding more ads to the background of the page, but its such an excellent way to make money or to push people to purchase a membership. I view this as they serve the most options out there right now,and they are trying to stay on top.

    Taylor 🙂

  4. I like that you chose Pandora because they are one of my top ten favorite companies. Not because I like their radio (To be honest with you Pandora didn’t come up with anything new!!) But I like them because they are a great example of success.

    Tim Westergren started with a simple idea in the year 2000, thinking of it as an academic experiment. In 2005, the station started streaming on the internet. In 2007, the company fell into serious financial trouble, and almost went bankrupt. In 2010, Pandora was named one of the hottest companies in California. In 2011, Pandora officially began trading on the NYSE, giving them a valuation of nearly $2.6 billion, that’s a billion with a B. During its 2011 fiscal year, Pandora reported $138 million in revenue!! Wow! Way to go Pandora 🙂

    Going back to your post, I am not sure if I understand the role of the PR team in making Pandora bigger as you mentioned. What did they do exactly? and how did they achieve it? The newer design, more features would fall under the development department or team, I would say, not the PR team.

    Adding to your examples of Pandora’s new features and its success. You can now have Pandora in your car as an option. Pandora was successful to convince big car companies including biggg foreign companies like BMW to integrate Pandora radio to their computer system. Now you can buy a car and have Pandora radio as an app. on your car’s computer.

    • The Pandora feature for your car sounds pretty awesome! I heard about that and in my opinion, I would way rather have the short commercials Pandora plays than listen to radio stations now, that play the same songs and play way too many commercials.

      As we have talked about in class, an important aspect of PR is keeping up with your competition and it seems everyone is so upset about commercials when they seem to be everywhere in any kind of media. Yes, they are annoying, but they are necessary. Pandora has great ideas, and by updating and improving their website, the more superior they will be.

      Pandora is now offering a much larger range of music as well for the members. Evolving and making changes that will satisfy the consumer is also an important part to PR. I’m sure the development department made the actual changes, but you know the PR specialist thought of new and better ways to improve their site and what would appeal to their members.

      Check out the link i just posted. For some reason it wasn’t working on our blog site.

      ~Taylor

  5. I love Pandora , and i respect their evolution. The company used smart phones as a foundation to develop from, and from there they hit the bigger screen. Now you can listen from your computer, blue ray players , and any electronic device that has partnered up with the popular brand. Theres a new speaker called the “Sonic” its on display at every Target and it has a partnership with Pandora. If you want to purchase the speakers you can subscribe to pandora and receive a full wi-fi service to listen to what you want when you want. Advertisements are common in the social site frenzy so i think that the commercial add idea is great P-R for Pandora. Adding another plan where you don’t have to listen to the commercials is even bigger business for this brand.
    Pandora is on a roll with its marketing plan, and I also love the new site.
    Great blog Taylor, The new information was insightful.

    • Pandora seems to have touched on almost everything. Its nuts how much they have done. They started in 1999 and keep booming. I agree, having the commercial add was another good idea for PR. Some people may dislike them, but advertisements are everywhere, even Facebook, you can escape them. However, Pandora has evolved so much; that I’m sure trailers will be diminish over time if they keep making more money. It’s a great way to bring in money and keep people updated on what’s out. Less and less people are watching commercials on TV because of TiVo and drv, companies may be more desperate and willing to pay to get their ad out. Pandora also targeted the advertisement firms.

      ~Taylor

  6. I’m probably one of the only people on the internet who chooses not to use Pandora, and it looks like it’s going to stay that way. Personally, the pervasiveness of ads is something that would turn me off to a web radio/music-thingy and keep me on my desktop, regardless of all the bells and whistles, and a social network is not what I want to sign up for if I just want music.

    Do they (in the PR sense) have an angle to persuade potential users like myself? Or what’s their target audience? More casual, ad-friendly users? I’ve honestly never browsed the site before.

    (I do like their opening layout, though…very current to web design trends)

    -Laura

      • When I watched the video I posted, it seemed to me that their main goal was to provide a wider range of music, and to tailor members taste in music more effectively. I suppose the new angle could be to satisfy a niche audience and give them more control.

    • Laura,

      That’s a good question! I thought they might be changing to help bring in a different audience, and to provide more than their competition, but I never thought about their specific targeted audience. I think providing a social networking experience is a new tactic to persuading new members however. They also provide a blogging site for members to give their feedback to the company, which I think is another great PR skill, as a way to reach out to the consumers and to stay involved to help satisfy everyone. As for a specific audience, I know they are aiming to please everyone, but the automobile industry is a huge one right now.

      ~Taylor 

      • Does the feedback blog get many responses from the company, do you know? I’m not part of many sites I would consider pretty stellar at feedback or addressing problems quickly or effectively to satisfy many users – and I assume that turnover time only gets larger as the company itself expands membership and notoriety.

  7. Pandora users know that this site is everything and more. When I first heard about the site I fell in love. I’m a music lover and enjoy the variety of good and new music they offer. It amazes me how they do this for free. Their PR firm is doing probably the best job in the industry in my opinion. The creators have tapped into a market that will never ever. People love music, especially free music. By being “advertising-supported” the company really shines the light on successful collaborations. I believe Pandora will continue to flourish. Hopefully they won’t get too carried away and seek extreme means of promotion. That’s the worst! For example Face book is one of the most popular social media sites. Though their current alterations to the site are causing users to not be as interested. Companies and PR firms should realize that change is not always appealing to everyone.

    • agree! I hate when companies try to change so much they loose the foundation they built themselves on, when that’s what made them successful. But companies need to grow and keep changing to stay above the competition, so making sure you don’t cross the line is the important part. I think the best PR tactic for this situation is to not worry about changing so much to beat out the competition, but provide a couple more perks compared to the rival, because if they’re your rival, that means they’re doing something right and you don’t want to leap too far away from what people enjoy. I think the PR people are doing awesome too. I think a little more publicity on the site could improve. Of course people who use the site regularly notice the change, but people who are not members may have not heard about the more options. I think more press in this aspect would be a good idea.

  8. Advertisements are a way of bringing more users to Pandora in my opinion. While some may be turned off by the idea of advertising, commercials, etc. Others see it as a means to support other businesses out there, and are ok with that. As a Pandora user, I notice that the advertisements and commercials are usually displayed after about 6 songs. Also notice that the length in time of the commercials is alot shorter than what you see on television or hear via radio. Giving consumers a short sweet visual reminder about the product, without the overload. Great job Pandora creators. Being that you can skip over the commercials is a plus in PR Pandora.
    Great facts
    -Martise

  9. Taylor,

    I have to say, I’m slightly confused as to how PR played a role. I have read through the comments and your replies back, and I understand that the PR specialists thought it would be best to change and update as you said, but this seems like more of an ad movement for the company to make more money. Perhaps what you are trying to say just hasn’t gotten through to me.

    I wish that Pandora would update their songs though, I have several stations because much of the music I listen to isn’t on the radio, but they play the same five songs over and over. I wish they would do something about that perhaps in conjunction to all these new ads and more money. That would be something consumers want, not more ads.

    Dayna

  10. Taylor,
    When I first started using Pandora, I always had to sit at a desk for my job, so I thought, why don;t I listen to some music 🙂 . The things I didn’t like about Pandora was it wouldn’t play my song I wanted, it would make a “radio” station with songs like mine and wouldn’t even get to my song until almost eight songs later. On top of all that, you could only skip through maybe three before they made you listen to one song. After a couple times, I stopped using it, even though my membership is probably still up. My first question is, is Pandora still like that? If they are, I’m not going back lol.

    My second question is along the lines of the others. I still don’t see how PR contributed in a major way. I see advertising and marketing all over, but not PR. Maybe in the first stages (thought processes and such—you stated something about their ideas and checking out competition, and I get that), but what were the tactics they used to reach out to their target audiences? For example, using social media or something along those lines?

    My last question is, what really makes Pandora better to use than their competitors, like Youtube when trying to get members like me who sit at a desk to use their site rather than Youtube? And what are some of the tactics PR pros used to show more positive benefits with using Pandora than similar websites? I know that Prof. Luttrell said PR pros are not supposed to say something is bad, and our product is better, etc..so I’m really wondering how they were able to make that huge comeback.

    • I think the main point of Pandora is to provide you with a genre of music you enjoy with a mix of some songs you already know and like. What I enjoy about Pandora, is it plays songs I haven’t heard before and helps me find artists I would have not found otherwise. That is what makes it different than the competition. If people want to hear songs they already know there are other alternatives. Back to your question about the change in Pandora, I love my account and I use the free one. I think it all depends on what you are looking for and if you find songs you enjoy, you can like that song and it will come up regularly. Also, you can get through more songs without being stopped by a commercial now. Yes, they are still there, just not as many and their actually better. (If that makes sense) They are short trailers on t.v shows or movies; I suggest giving it a shot one more time, especially if you want to hear new songs and artists. As for the PR tactics in my blog I wanted to stress their upgrades, which is important, but reaching out the members to give them more is what I think is being a successful PR.

      ~Taylor

      • You are a really great example of a good Pandora customer- listening to other songs besides the one i wanted was tedious to me :). And thank you for answering my question. Would you say that tactic was the most important and why?
        -Jaleesa

  11. With Facebook making all of it’s changes and rumor’s of the new charging fee (which I believe will never happen) with the right move or two, Pandora could easily become the new facebook, Moving the idea of Pandora from a music site into a socal networking site seem’s genious to anyone. But the only issue is Pandora is too money hungry, which will eventually lead to Pandora remainding a million dollar company when who know’s Billions could be involved

  12. Great read Taylor. I really enjoyed it. I think what Pandora has also been successful at is creating Brand Loyalty. In class we have touched on Brand Loyalty when talking about Febreeze and deodorant. Pandora has been around for a while now and I have stuck with them through thick and thin, I first got my account while I was sophomore in high school when it was “music.com”. I am now a 5th year at EMU and I have never left them. Even when youtube began to dominate or other websites like lastfm.com came on the scene, I remained loyal. Pandora does a great job of getting know your own personal musical tastes and catering to it like non other. I for one was glad to see the new look of the site and the improvements made. They have made their stamp in history. I have never bought a membership and they still manage to do well. Great job on the part of the PR folks who keeps it fresh and innovative. Got a feeling they’re going to be around for a minute.

    -Orlando (I finally remembered to put my name!)

    • Orlando,
      Sorry for the late response. I’ve been loyal to Pandora as well and it’s been really interesting watching them grow as a company. I think Pandora has such a wide range of music and is great at catering music to your liking also. Which, I find to be a great PR tactic. Observing what kind of music people like and finding new/fresh songs that you normally wouldn’t hear otherwise. I’ve came across several bands that I would have never found without Pandora.

      Taylor 🙂

  13. “I like that you chose Pandora because they are one of my top ten favorite companies. Not because I like their radio (To be honest with you Pandora didn’t come up with anything new!!) But I like them because they are a great example of success.” totally agree with Midu.

    I love Pandora it can be annoying with all the ads and the “are you still listening?” i love how the company has grown through the years its is available on smart phones and the price is not that bad. not matter who their competitors are i will always be loyal to this company. even though you can listen to you fave regular radio station online i would rather be annoyed with ads than be talking about things i don’t care about. Honestly i just want to hear the music and Pandora do just that!!
    Dee

  14. Taylor,
    I personally love Pandora, and use the application on my phone since i lost my iPod, I like that Pandora plays songs/artist similar to the ones you like, leading to the discovery of some that I may have never heard before. I also like it as an alternative to the radio when I’m in my car because the radio seems like it plays the same 7 or 8 songs over and over again. Pandora may have a few commericals here and there but it is less then the radio. The company also needs to make money somehow when the service they are offering is free, and a commerical here and there really should be nothing to complain about (even thought i hate them-I mean who actually LIKES commericals!) I think Pandora is a great thing and I am glad to see them expanding and upgrating.

  15. I absolutely love Pandora, but i hate the ads. I use it everytime im at work, in the car, or working out. I mainly use my smart phone to listen and even when the ads come it has the “why ads?” selection where it explains how in order for pandora to remain free it’s being paid for by the ads or you can upgrade and pay to use it without any interruptions of the ad. PR through pandora is a brilliant idea because it’s users are forced to listen to the ads. I always find myself tuning into the ads just to hear what they have to offer. It’s clever! I have noticed the upgrade of the app and im enjoying it!

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