Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce are in a PR relationship; Plus, the Eras Tour Film : It's Been a Minute Taylor Swift and her maybe boyfriend, Kansas Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, have been inescapable the past few weeks. The pop superstar has been showing up at Chiefs games, and the NFL has been playing it up - all to the mutual benefit of each party involved. Regardless of if the three of them - Taylor, Travis, and the NFL - are in a romantic polycule, public relations expert Molly McPherson says they are for sure in a PR relationship. Brittany and Molly get into how PR relationships work for celebrities — from pop superstars to politicians.

Plus, Taylor Swift released her Eras Tour film and Beyoncé announced her Renaissance Tour film a couple weeks ago. Brittany takes a look at whether these films add something for fans or if they are just another cash grab from these artists.

Real relationship aside, Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce are 100% in a PR relationship

Real relationship aside, Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce are 100% in a PR relationship

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Taylor Swift. Michael Tran/AFP; Elsa/Getty Images hide caption

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Michael Tran/AFP; Elsa/Getty Images

Taylor Swift.

Michael Tran/AFP; Elsa/Getty Images

Three weeks ago, if you had asked me to pick Kansas City Chiefs player Travis Kelce out of a lineup with the help of two state-issued forms of identification, I would have failed. Now I can't seem to get him out of my phone. Video clips of his "New Heights" podcast haunt my TikTok "For You" page. His ads for Experian – yes, the credit reporting company – interrupt my favorite sewing tutorials on YouTube. I even know that he favors Versace silk blouses off the field – my Instagram feed suggestions told me so. As a person who's never watched an American football game to completion, the sudden omnipresence of Kelce's handlebar mustache is a lot.

Travis Kelce #87 of the Kansas City Chiefs looks on prior to a game against the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium on October 08, 2023 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. David Berding/Getty Images hide caption

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David Berding/Getty Images

Travis Kelce #87 of the Kansas City Chiefs looks on prior to a game against the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium on October 08, 2023 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

David Berding/Getty Images

Kelce's sudden inescapability is, of course, a direct result of his alleged romance with singer-songwriter Taylor Swift. She's attended a few Chiefs games, bringing along famous friends like Sophie Turner, Ryan Reynolds and Hugh Jackman. Kelce's mom has been spotted wearing a Swift-inspired friendship bracelet and chatting happily with the pop megastar.

So are they actually dating? Who knows? Swift and Kelce haven't officially confirmed nor denied their romantic relationship, but in the eyes of crisis public relations expert Molly McPherson, Swift and Kelce are definitely in a PR relationship, a public-facing link-up that mutually benefits all members of the relationship, whether through millions of album streams, increased social media follower count, or a buzzy award season campaign. And according to McPherson, Swift and Kelce's PR relationship is golden. "When you are one of the top trending news stories and you have an entire organization [the NFL] that has likely stopped all of their digital campaigns, their advertising campaigns, and have shifted quickly... to embrace this Taylor-Travis relationship, you know that that is a successful public relations relationship."

It's obvious this PR relationship has been a success for Kelce. Since Swift began attending Kelce's games, Swifties have flocked to Chiefs' NFL broadcasts, hoping to see their queen at her new perch, the box seats at Arrowhead Stadium. Chiefs ratings are way up, and Kelce's jersey sales have increased 400%. So what's in it for Swift, arguably one of the biggest stars in the world?

Taylor Swift reacts during the first half of a game between the Chicago Bears and the Kansas City Chiefs at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium on September 24, 2023 in Kansas City, Missouri. Photo by Jason Hanna/Getty Images hide caption

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Photo by Jason Hanna/Getty Images

Taylor Swift reacts during the first half of a game between the Chicago Bears and the Kansas City Chiefs at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium on September 24, 2023 in Kansas City, Missouri.

Photo by Jason Hanna/Getty Images

For one, Swift's Eras Tour documentary is in theaters this week. Being seen at Kelce's game against the Denver Broncos ahead of her film's opening expands her cultural footprint beyond the Swifties, and causes the perfect storm of media attention any star would want before a major release.

As a permanent A-lister, Swift is well aware of the draw of her love life to the public and has deftly utilized romantic paparazzi snaps and cryptic song lyrics to construct an image of herself as the lovelorn girl-next-door since her early days as a country-pop princess. "Taylor Swift knows when there isn't a new song or a new album or video or a red scarf, that Swifties will always talk about relationships," says McPherson. "So how easy is it just to have them?" It's all part of the special recipe – along with songwriting talent, ambition, and a highly mobilized fanbase – that has kept her relevant for nearly 20 years.

Swift's not the first, or the only star to use PR relationships to her advantage. We see this pattern all over the entertainment industry – think collaborative couples like Beyoncé and Jay-Z, or writer/directors Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach. PR relationships are old hat in politics, too. The Obamas are the modern blueprint for a relatable power couple, despite their very unrelatable wealth and influence. They have obvious chemistry and a seemingly genuine bond, but they have also narrativized every aspect of what we know about their marriage. The story of their first date has been turned into a narrative feature film. And while on a promotional tour for her most recent book, Michelle Obama opened up about the resentment she carried when Barack was a young Illinois senator. "Even from Michelle's point of view, you can just still see the bitterness that she had and those years that she was left alone. She gave up her career. She's home with the girls. Why? Barack is the one who gets to ascend," says McPherson. But it's that honesty that McPherson touts as their special sauce. "They're so open about the problems that they've had in their relationship, and what they're able to do is to lean in on that vulnerability," she says. The Obamas understand, perhaps better than any famous pair, that an ideal PR relationship is an opportunity to express your values and ideals without delivering a stump speech.

Former U.S President Barack Obama and his wife First Lady Michelle Obama dance together on January 20, 2009 in Washington, DC. Mark Wilson/Getty Images hide caption

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Former U.S President Barack Obama and his wife First Lady Michelle Obama dance together on January 20, 2009 in Washington, DC.

Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Even PR relationships that don't succeed in the traditional sense can generate buzz and influence for all partners involved. Just look at the tidal wave of discussion now following actress Jada Pinkett Smith, who revealed this week that she and her husband of nearly three decades, actor Will Smith, have been privately separated since 2016. This revelation doesn't have the same celebratory tone as a pregnancy announcement, but it does seem likely to move copies of Pinkett Smith's upcoming memoir. The best PR relationships don't need to work out, they just need to work for each star's respective brand.

Tempting as it is to judge these stars for performing their relationships, I'm not exactly in a position to cast stones as if I've never done the same. In my dating days, I could be lethal with a well-timed thirst trap or a vague, yearning Twitter post. And I suspect you've committed some necessary-but-cringe acts of public relations of your own. I mean who amongst us hasn't soft-launched a new partner on Instagram stories, or photo-dumped a night out while secretly nursing heartache? But we can't let these celebrities completely off the hook. Looking for love is hard on us all, but I imagine a fat brand partnership check softens the blow.

This episode was produced by Baron Girdwood and Corey Antonio Rose. We had engineering help from Zachary Coleman. It was edited by Jessica Placzek. The digital story was edited by Ciera Crawford. Our executive producer is Veralyn Williams. Our VP of programming is Yolanda Sangweni and our senior VP of programming is Anya Grundmann.