Compared to Advertising Publicity Offers the Advantage of Greater
Publicity and advertising are two major promotional strategies used by companies to increase awareness of their brand. Both have merits, but publicity tends to have greater credibility and authenticity than traditional advertising.
What is Publicity?
Publicity refers to any unpaid mention of a company, product, or service in media like news outlets, magazines, TV shows, etc. For example, if a technology blog writes a review about a new smartphone, this is publicity for the brand.
Unlike advertising, the company does not directly pay for or control the message. They earn publicity through newsworthy and relevant content that captures media attention.
What is Advertising?
Advertising refers to paid promotional spaces companies directly purchase through channels like search engines, websites, TV, radio, billboards, etc. Advertisers have full control over the ad creative, messaging, placement, timing, and more.
For example, a company might pay to run a 30-second commercial during the Super Bowl or buy banner ads on popular websites. This guarantees exposure but can lack authenticity.
Authenticity and Credibility
One of the biggest advantages of publicity is that it comes across as more authentic and credible than traditional ads.
Since the company openly pays for ads, viewers tend to tune them out or distrust them automatically. But publicity appears more objective since it was earned, not bought. Even if the coverage is positive, it still feels more authentic than an ad created by the company praising itself.
Positive publicity also boosts credibility through social proof. If respectable media outlets feature a company favourably, it signals to consumers that it is credible and trustworthy.
Reaching Target Audiences
Both advertising and publicity allow companies to reach their target demographics. However, publicity can sometimes provide access to audiences that ignore or avoid advertising.
For example, a company wants to reach tech enthusiasts. These users are more likely to tune out banner ads on websites. But if a leading technology publication writes an article reviewing the company's new device, tech enthusiasts will see the publicity and engage with it since it aligns with their interests.
Driving Website Traffic
Publicity effectively drives traffic to a company's owned media platforms like its website, social media, YouTube channel, etc.
When a website or blog links to a company in an article, it sends credible visitors directly to that site. Sometimes, a single publicity piece can overwhelm a site with a massive viral spike in qualified organic traffic.
Advertising can also drive traffic, but the influx may be less targeted or sustainable over the long term compared to publicity.
Boosting Social Sharing
Users are likelier to share organic publicity across their social networks than ads. This creates viral exposure that expands the publicity's reach.
For example, an interesting article or news segment on a product may get widely posted on social media. However, fewer people share ads since they are viewed as promotional. This social sharing effect amplifies positive publicity.
Long-Term Brand Building
Publicity has powerful long-term effects on brand building compared to short-lived ads. While ads may be forgotten quickly after exposure, publicity creates memorable anchor moments that shape brand perception.
Favourable publicity accumulates like compound interest for a company. Years later, people remember major publicity events influencing a brand's image and credibility.
It's important to note that publicity and advertising work best together in a promotional mix. Ads keep a basic level of brand awareness and interest. However, strategic publicity generates visibility spikes while enhancing the brand's credibility and affinity.
I am just relying on publicity limits control and consistency. However, combining it with advertising provides diverse exposure using earned, owned, and paid media channels in harmony.
Potential Downsides of Publicity
Publicity comes with risks, as bad publicity can spread virally and damage a brand. Since companies don't control the messaging, publicity could highlight negatives or misrepresent a brand.
Maintaining open communication and positive relationships with media outlets helps mitigate these risks. But, avoiding controversy and monitoring publicity is vital to brand management duties.
Executing a Powerful Publicity Strategy
Here are some tips for executing an effective publicity campaign:
- Identify audiences and publications that align with your brand
- Develop newsworthy stories and angles tailored to media interests
- Craft press releases, kits, and pitching emails
- Build media relationships and pitch regularly yet strategically
- Time major announcements and events for maximum exposure
- Monitor publicity results and optimize efforts further
With strategic planning and execution, brands can earn positive publicity that boosts credibility, authenticity, and affinity with key target demographics. Compared to advertising, publicity's ability to do this more organically can be extremely valuable.