Publicity and Why It Is Important

What is Publicity
••• Getty Images / Paul Bradbury

Publicity can be defined many ways, but it is most appropriate to view it from a marketing perspective. In its simplest form, publicity involves conveying information and generating awareness about products and services to the general public or target audiences through various media.

The Purpose of Publicity 

Publicity's primary purpose is to get specific information across to as many people as possible within the shortest time frame. To record any sale of products or services, customers have to be aware they exist, and they also have to know the attached benefits. As the number of people aware of a product or service increases, the potential for additional sales also increases.

While publicity is a key component of marketing strategies, it is different from marketing because there often is no message beyond letting an audience know that the product or service in question exists. A publicity campaign might be built around making a product or brand visible through strategies such as product placements or logos on vehicles that are seen around town. 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.

Such strategies often precede more specific marketing campaigns that share more detailed information.

Target Audiences

Depending on the type of product or service being publicized, certain categories of people might make up a target audience. For instance, if a product is for babies, nursing mothers and pregnant women likely will be a target audience. Other less obvious demographics often are determined through market research. Surveys may be conducted by a company's marketing department, or it might hire an outside firm to handle the research. The goal is to determine the demographic makeup of the customers who show the most interest in or have the greatest need for a product or service.

Companies also collect information about customers using tools such as frequent shopper programs that offer special deals. To join, customers typically have to share at least minimal information about themselves. The more information a company has about its customers, the more it can tailor its marketing strategies to the appropriate audiences.

Publicity is communication, and communication is a two-way transaction. So, another way companies collect data about customers is through customer feedback forms. As much as companies want to know whether customers liked or disliked what they were selling, they want to collect information about who the customers are.

Types of Publicity

There are many different types of publicity. While marketing campaigns often are built around traditional means of advertising, the best publicity often comes through strategies that don't involve buying space in print or online or time on air. Social media has become one of the most common forms of publicity. Few companies, large or small, do not have social media accounts on platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and more. Through these outlets, they are able to build followers and establish an audience for the messages they want to share.

By posting regularly, businesses keep their brand in the minds of their followers, and by encouraging followers to share posts, they can expand their audiences. While the ultimate goal is to create a post that goes viral and gets shared millions of times, a more realistic, day-to-day objective is simply to maintain relevancy and to build a broader audience in a slow and steady fashion.