What You Don't Know About Taylor Swift's Publicist, Tree Paine

The following article references sexual misconduct.

It's not every day you come across a publicist who's almost just as famous as the celeb they represent, but Tree Paine isn't your average publicist — she's Taylor Swift's publicist. Enough said, right?

Tree and Swift first crossed paths in 2007 when the latter's song, "Love Story" was starting to take off. Tree and Swift took a liking to each other and became fast friends. By the time Paine met Swift, she already had plenty of experience under her belt, but like most people in the entertainment industry, she started her career as an intern. She worked at Mute Records, proving her worth in the company's sales department. By the time she joined Interscope Records' team, she represented big names like Snoop Dogg, No Doubt, and Nine Inch Nails. She later acquired positions at other big record companies like Capitol Records and became known among her peers as one of the best publicists around.

Tree is married to Lance Paine, who happens to be the president of Scott Brothers Global. Yes, as in the production company that heads the popular HGTV show "Property Brothers." Like his wife, Lance appears to be a go-getter. As "Property Brothers" star Drew Scott told Variety, "With Lance, we know we can achieve some ambitious goals. He is a superb strategist and strong visionary — a fantastic addition to the team." Tree Paine might be famous, but she's a pretty private person. Here are some details you might not know about her.

She was Warner Music Nashville's senior vice president

Tree Paine is someone who strikes while the iron is hot, and that's clear when you look at her resume. She's had various jobs with plenty of record companies, but she hit it big time at Warner Music Nashville in 2013 when she was promoted to senior vice president of publicity. This was quite the feat, and many sang her praises in the statement Warner Music Group released to announce her promotion. "What makes Tree such an incredible publicist is her broad understanding of the business, which covers everything from artist development and management, to touring and marketing," Warner Music President and CEO, John Esposito, said in the statement. "She is a tremendous asset to our team, has great relationships with each of our artists, and time and again produces fantastic media coverage on their behalf. Tree's promotion is a deserving recognition of the fact that she's a vital part of our senior team," he continued.

Paine, of course, was thrilled to be promoted and said that she was thankful to be working with such a talented team of people. She also praised her superiors for creating a dynamic and creative work environment. "I am immensely grateful to be a part of such a fun and creative company, and excited to continue my tenure, now as Senior Vice President," Paine said.

Taylor Swift was Tree Paine's first client after she started her own PR firm

It seems Tree Paine can tell the future, or at least has a very good gut instinct, because barely a year after her promotion at Warner Music Nashville, she quit and started her own business, Premium PR. Her first client was none other than Taylor Swift. "There isn't a publicist in New York, L.A., or Nashville that wouldn't jump at an opportunity to work with someone as talented as Taylor Swift and her management team," Paine said in a statement, per Country Aircheck. "They are the best at what they do and I'm ecstatic they have welcomed me to the team."

Tree replaced Swift's longtime publicist, Paula Erickson, who worked with Swift for seven years. There was plenty of speculation about who would be filling Erickson's shoes, with one high-ranking PR executive telling The Hollywood Reporter that Swift's reputation as one of the biggest pop stars in the world meant that she would have her pick of the industry's best. That said, hiring the right person for the job could be tricky. "The challenge is finding that person you know and trust," they said. It seems Swift already had the perfect candidate in mind, having known Paine since 2007. When it came to light that Paine had landed the job, the New York Post ran a story announcing the news, dubbing her a "PR bulldog." She's proven to be worthy of the title since.

Tree Paine has a very different approach from Taylor Swift's previous publicist

The ink was barely dry on Tree Paine's contract when she started debunking false stories about Taylor Swift — something Swift's former publicist, Paula Erickson, wasn't known for doing. A fan on Reddit speculated that Tree is the reason Swift started taking a more aggressive approach towards the public's perception of her as a serial dater. She put her friends at the forefront instead of the people she was casually dating and even wrote the killer hit, "Blank Space," which was a direct, witty response to people's criticism of her dating life. Many believe Paine is behind this, and given her track record, this theory is not too far-fetched.

Shortly after signing Swift, Paine was very active on X, formerly known as Twitter, debunking false rumors about Swift left and right and telling off tabloids publishing false stories. One such iconic tweet was directed at the National Enquirer, which published an article claiming Swift had passed on an opportunity to collaborate on a song with Randy Travis. "This story is 100% not true. Never believe the National Enquirer," Paine wrote. She also didn't refrain from addressing unconfirmed stories when outlets reached out for comment. Swifties surely remember the 2014 rumor about Swift and friend Karlie Kloss supposedly kissing at a 1975 concert. The internet had a mini meltdown and Paine wasn't having it. When asked for comment by Entertainment Tonight, Paine called the story "crap."

Tree Paine guided Taylor Swift through her first public political statement

In 2018, Taylor Swift made a bold move when she voiced her political opinions for the first time. While many fans had criticized her for remaining silent throughout the 2016 elections, Swift remained mum about her political affiliation. By the time 2018 rolled around and the Trump administration's effects could be felt across the country, Swift decided that she would no longer remain silent. Midterm elections in Tennessee were looming, and Swift voiced her support for the Democratic candidates on Instagram. She also encouraged her fans to familiarize themselves with their respective candidates' policies so they could make informed decisions about who they wanted to vote for. "For a lot of us, we may never find a candidate or party with whom we agree 100% on every issue, but we have to vote anyway," Swift said.

In her Netflix documentary "Miss Americana," it was revealed that Tree Paine had a lot of input in that message and that she and Swift extensively discussed the pros and cons of her making her political opinions public. She and Swift were filmed drinking wine on the couch and talking about the possible repercussions of a political post. "I always have to bring up everything... that we need to expect," Paine told Swift. "Number one: the president could come after you." Swift wasn't worried, and Paine continued to have her client's back. 

Tree Paine stood by Taylor Swift during her sexual assault trial

When you're in PR, you go through all the ups and downs with your client. Tree Paine proved to not only be an excellent publicist but a supportive friend when she attended Taylor Swift's sexual assault trial in 2017. Reflecting the trial at a 2018 concert, Swift called the ordeal a "really, really horrible part of my life" (via USA Today).

Swift filed charges against David Mueller, a former radio DJ, after he groped her during a meet and greet in 2013. Mueller, in turn, sued Swift for defamation after he got fired from his job when the allegations became public. She countersued him for $1 — and won. She had the support of her whole family and fanbase during this time, of course. What's more, Tree Paine was photographed making her way to the courthouse to be there for Swift during this trying time.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

Swifties adore Tree Paine

Tree Paine might not be a pop star, but she's got the support of Swifties everywhere. There's no arguing that Paine is good at her job, and fans credit her for some of Taylor Swift's success, especially when it comes to how she handles the media (and the occasional scandal). In fact, some fans see Paine almost as a superhero, a rep who seems capable of the impossible. Did Paine encourage Swift to attend a Kansas City Chiefs game against the New York Jets in an attempt to bury stories about her private plane emissions? We may never know. However, for a while, stories about her private jet usage were no longer the top Google results for the search term "Taylor Swift Jets." Could be a coincidence, could be a savvy PR scheme.

While she's almost just as famous as the pop star she represents, Tree Paine, much like Swift, is pretty mysterious. "Tree Paine is everywhere and nowhere. Tree Paine is present and absent," culture journalist Hunter Harris told The Daily Beast — and fans love it. Those who spend plenty of time on X, formerly known as Twitter, know that Swifties can't sing Paine's praises enough. "I aspire to be Tree Paine. Queen of PR," one fan posted in 2023. "Tree paine i hope both sides of your pillow are always cold! god bless!" another said that same year. "The devil works hard but Tree Paine works harder!!!!! Yas Queen thank you for ur service," another posted in all caps back in 2021.

Tree Paine once took on Kimye on behalf of Taylor Swift

Few will ever forget Taylor Swift's feud with Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, least of all Tree Paine, who expertly handled a very delicate situation. In 2016, Kanye West released "Famous," which features the line, "I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex / Why? I made that b***h famous." This sparked a back-and-forth between Swift and West that ended up causing a media storm. Kardashian insisted Swift said the line was okay; Swift denied she approved that verbiage. 

Later that year, Kardashian posted snippets of the phone call Swift had with West that supported Kardashian and West's version of events. However, when the entire phone call was leaked in 2020, it painted a different version of events.

Instead of just letting it go, Kardashian released a statement on X, formerly known as Twitter, backtracking on her former claims. "To be clear, the only issue I ever had around the situation was that Taylor lied through her publicist who stated that 'Kanye never called to ask for permission,'" Kardashian wrote. Paine wasn't about to let Kardashian get away with calling her a liar and responded with an image of her original 2016 statement. "I'm Taylor's publicist and this is my UNEDITED original statement. Btw, when you take parts out, that's editing," she wrote, referring to the misleading snippets Kardashian previously posted of West and Swift's conversation. "P.S. who did you guys p*ss off to leak that video?" she added. Burn.

Tree Paine shut down rumors about Taylor Swift and Joe Alwyn's supposed marriage

In another heroic moment not unlike her public statement to Kim Kardashian in 2020, Tree Paine took to X, formerly known as Twitter, in 2023 to debunk a story about Taylor Swift supposedly having secretly married her ex-boyfriend Joe Alwyn. After the Instagram account DeuxMoi, which often publishes unverified gossip about celebrities, shared the long-standing rumor about Swift marrying Alwyn, Paine stepped in. She issued a statement, slamming the account for hurting the people mentioned in its posts.

Paine didn't mince her words in the statement, which was posted alongside a screenshot from one of DeuxMoi's claims. "Enough is enough with these fabricated lies about Taylor from Deuxmoi. There was NEVER a marriage or ceremony of ANY kind. This is an insane thing to post. It's time for you to be held accountable for the pain and trauma you cause with posts like these," Paine wrote. DeuxMoi clapped back with a statement of their own on Instagram Stories, writing, "Well I make zero dollars from lying... can publicists say the same," adding, "Also, to relate something that is in reference to something that happened years ago to 'pain & trauma' after what just happened seems like a poor choice of words. Either way, I apologize to Taylor." Paine didn't dignify the jab with a reply. Nonetheless, the rumors were mostly put to rest after that.

Taylor Swift has joked that Tree Paine tells her what to do

In a red carpet moment that certainly charmed Swifties, Taylor Swift told reporters that they had to go through Tree Paine first before they could take pictures of her.

While making an appearance at the premiere of her Eras Tour concert film, Taylor could be seen making small talk with people on the red carpet. Members of the press, as usual, were eager to get as many pictures of Swift on the big night as possible. In a video posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, photographers can be heard asking Swift if they could please get more photos of her standing on her own. Taylor turned around and answered, "You see that redhead? She'll tell me what to do." It then appears that Paine gave the go-ahead. With that, Swift began posing for the requested pictures.

Swifties were fangirling over the moment in the comments, with one writing, "Girly really said 'redirect your questions I do what Tree says.'" Another quipped, "In Tree Paine we trust," while a third fan commented, "I believe in tree paine supremacy."

Journalists tread carefully around Tree Paine

When journalists hear Tree Paine's name, they quiver with fear. Well, perhaps not literally, but some have said that she makes them nervous, with more than one journalist admitting to The Daily Beast that they were "scared" of Taylor Swift's longtime publicist.

A former Vanity Fair journalist confided to The Daily Beast that they once wrote a piece about Swift and quickly realized that Paine wasn't messing around. "[She is a] different breed of publicist," the journalist, who wanted to remain anonymous, said. "I was writing a short news piece and she was calling me to tell me stuff on background at midnight Eastern Time. I wasn't even writing a major feature and she was on it." It might be Paine's ability to appear omniscient that unnerves journalists. "Crossing Tree is the same thing as crossing Taylor. A lot of journalists who cover culture and entertainment know who is running the show," the Vanity Fair reporter said.

TikTok creator and Swift expert Lexa, who uses the handle @simpofthesapphics, told The Daily Beast that Swifties can sometimes get a little carried away when it comes to how much power they think Paine has. However, after she fired back at DeuxMoi for spreading false rumors, her power reverberated throughout the fandom. "[She] pretty much eviscerated DeuxMoi in one single tweet, likely blacklisting her from Swifties permanently," Lexa said. "It's not hard to see why that reputation has taken off."

Tree Paine is respected by the press

Tree Paine might make journalists nervous, but she isn't mean to them. The same Vanity Fair reporter who told The Daily Beast that plenty of journalists feared Paine and her influence also said that she's never been rude. "When you're in media you don't always feel respected by publicists and I have always felt really respected by her," they said, adding, "She's doing her job to make sure the message that's important to her gets out there but she's never called and screamed at me. I hang up the phone like, 'Damn, she's good at her job.'"

Part of the reason why journalists respect Paine might be because of her ability to handle things strictly from behind the scenes without placing the focus on herself. She is arguably one of the most famous publicists on the planet, and yet, she's never granted a single interview. This is entirely out of line with other famous publicists who have, in the past, featured on magazine covers. As The Daily Beast pointed out, publicists representing big stars like Ariana Grande, Penélope Cruz, Beyoncé, and more have done so, but not Paine. Aside from her quick cameo in Swift's "Miss Americana" documentary, she steers clear of the spotlight unless she's accompanying Swift at an event. A culture journalist from a prominent publication told The Daily Beast that all the on-the-record information they have about Paine doesn't provide them with anything they could ever write a story about. Paine, it seems, thrives on remaining mysterious.

Tree Paine's level of fame is 'unprecedented'

While some publicists who represent big stars are known to the public and even have some of their own admirers, it might be safe to say that Tree Paine is at the top of the heap. And yet, she remains an enigma. It seems Paine, like Taylor Swift, has a gift for achieving the impossible.

Tori Baird, a Swiftie who co-hosts a podcast named after Tree titled, "Forest, Trees," told The Daily Beast that they admire how Paine has handled her own public image. "I'm fascinated by the visibility that she has within the fan community," Baird said. Most of us can't even name the publicists of some of the biggest celebrities in the world, and yet, Paine has managed to become almost as famous as Swift. Not only does she have her own fans, but there are even parody accounts that impersonate her. "It's unprecedented in the publicist culture to be so hyper-visible," the PR strategist who runs the TikTok account Tori's Intel told The Daily Beast. "I also admire Tree Paine... and how she works," PR expert Molly McPherson added.

There's no arguing that Paine and Swift make an excellent team, and perhaps much of Swift's success (at least in the media landscape) can be attributed to Paine's clever tricks behind the scenes. "These two are at the top of their game. And as far as publicists go, Tree Paine, I don't know anyone better than her," McPherson said.