What Is Publicity?

Definition & Examples of Publicity

Infographic on how information moves from PR agency to target audience

The Balance

Publicity is media attention for your product, service, or business. It can include traditional news sources, like news shows and newspapers, and new media, like podcasts, blogs, and websites.

Learn more about how publicity works.

What Is Publicity?

Publicity is creating public awareness of yourself, your business, or your brand, products, or services through media coverage and other forms of communication.

It's often part of a marketing campaign. Publicists help to manage publicity for individuals and businesses with a goal of increasing positive publicity and minimizing or responding to negative coverage.

How Publicity Works

Traditional advertising has its limitations. It's expensive, and it can be difficult to know whether you're reaching your target audience.

Publicity won't necessarily take the place of traditional advertising, but it can raise your profile. Even better, the best publicity strategies don't involve buying advertising time or space.

There are multiple ways to generate news stories about your business.

  1. Use press releases to alert the media to newsworthy events or changes regarding your business. Press releases use a specific format, tend to be short, and lead with the most important information. You can find templates online to follow or hire a writer or publicist to craft one for you. Once your release is written, you can distribute it to local media outlets, put it on your website, and distribute it using a service like PR Newswire.
  2. Develop contacts within the media to increase coverage of your business. You can do this through networking, introducing yourself and your business, and getting in touch when you hear about newsworthy items, whether they involve your business or not.
  3. Get involved in charity drives, local events, or industry milestones so your business will be mentioned in press coverage of those events.
  4. Pitch yourself as an expert source for news stories using resources like HARO. Journalists are often looking for people to contribute their knowledge for news articles. Keep in mind that you can't directly promote your product or service when acting as a source. Instead, you're promoting your expertise, which helps potential customers see you as an authority in your field.

Publicity vs. Marketing

Publicity  Marketing
Often free Involves paying for advertising
Not promotional Direct promotion of a product or service
Has a broader audience Has a targeted audience

While publicity may be a component of your marketing strategy, it's different from marketing because there is no message beyond letting an audience know that the product or service in question exists.

Marketing involves communicating specific benefits and emotions to potential customers to persuade them to make a purchase. Publicity is designed to make a person, product, or brand more visible.

Marketing is almost always directed at a business's target audience. Publicity typically targets a broader audience.

Publicity campaigns often precede marketing campaigns, paving the way for more specific, targeted advertising efforts.

Types of Publicity

Your business can pursue several types of publicity, including:

  1. Social media: Platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter allow you to connect with your potential customers. A strong social media presence keeps your brand in your followers' minds. Rather than trying to make a single post that goes viral, focus on building an interested audience slowly and steadily by offering posts that educate, entertain, or both.
  2. Product placement: Send free products or offer free services to public figures, bloggers, or other media personalities. Your products may end up being featured in their blogs, social media posts, or other public content.
  3. Partnerships: Working with other brands or businesses can allow you to get your brand in front of a wider audience and generate publicity. Approach potential partners about collaborations, product swaps, or offering your products and services as a free bonus to some of their customers.
  4. Promotional swag: Branded items such as calendars, pens, notepads, tote bags, and phone cases can put your brand name and logo in front of a wide audience. However, you have no guarantee that your target audience will be the one seeing this swag. Think of swag as a fun bonus for customers, rather than a guaranteed way to generate publicity, and budget accordingly.

Key Takeaways

  • Publicity is media attention for your product, service, or business. It can include traditional news sources, like news shows and newspapers, and new media, like podcasts, blogs, and websites.
  • Publicity raises awareness of your business, and can often be generated for free. 
  • Publicity is different from marketing; it's general and doesn't carry a specific message. Marketing is promoting your product or service. 
  • You can generate publicity through social media, product placements, strategic partnerships, and promotional swag.