What Is Publicity and Why Is It Important?

The definition and types of publicity

Image by © The Balance 2018 

In order to sell any products or services, your customers have to know that your business exists. Publicity is the process of creating public awareness of your business, brand, products, or services through media coverage and other forms of communication.

As more people become aware of your business, the potential for turning those people into customers also increases.

What Is the Difference Between Publicity and Marketing?

While publicity may be a component of your marketing strategy, it is different from most marketing because there often 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 in order to persuade them to make a purchase. Publicity, by contrast, is designed to make a product or brand more visible. This strategy typically does not share or describe a product's specific benefits, but it puts it in front of as many eyes as possible.

Marketing is almost always directed at a business's target audience. Publicity may be directed generally at the public or more specifically at your ideal customers.

Publicity campaigns often precede marketing campaigns that share more detailed information.

How to Get Publicity In the Media

While marketing campaigns often are built around traditional means of advertising, the best publicity uses strategies that don't involve buying advertising time or space. One of the most effective forms of free publicity is being mentioned in the media.

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.
  2. Develop contacts within the media to increase coverage of your business.
  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.

Other Types of Publicity

In addition to being mentioned in the press, there are other types of publicity that your business can pursue.

  1. Social media. Platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, 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 in a slow and steady fashion.
  2. Cultural relevance. A clever social media post, viral video, catchy slogan, popular commercial, or attention-grabbing public comment can put your business in the cultural spotlight. When that happens, you get free publicity anytime someone references your cultural moment.
  3. 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.
  4. Partnerships. Working with other brands or businesses that have a larger audience 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.
  5. 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.

No matter what type of publicity you pursue, remember: it is one of many tools you should be using to promote your brand and attract customers. Generating publicity should be a strategic part of your marketing mix, along with advertising and other promotional strategies.