What is Publicity?

What is Publicity?

Publicity is defined as the ‘non-personal stimulation of demand for a product, service or business unit by planting commercially significant news about it in a published medium or obtaining favorable presentation of it upon radio, television or stage that is not paid for by the sponsor’.

The salient features of this definition include:

Non-personal/Mass Media

Like advertising, publicity also reaches a very large number of people at the same time through mass media such as newspapers, magazines, radio, TV, etc (hence, non-personal).

Commercially Significant News

This is one of the features that distinguish publicity from advertising. When information about a product or company is considered newsworthy, mass media tend to communicate that information free of cost. Since most publicity appears in the form of news items or articles originating from the media, rather than the advertiser, it has higher credibility (believability).

No Sponsor

Since the information originates from the media, there is no sponsor, which means the messages are unsigned. This is another point of difference between advertising and publicity.

Not Paid for this:

Since the sponsor, is not identified in publicity and the information is not disseminated at his behest, he does not pay for it. This is the additional feature that differentiates publicity from advertising.

Purpose (Demand Stimulation):

In some situations, where publicity is properly planned, it may lead to the creation or reinforcement of a favorable impression about the company and its products in the minds of people receiving the message. This may lead to a favorable attitude towards the product or company and, thus, leads to an increased demand for the product.

Negative publicity can damage the company’s or product’s image, resulting in reduced demand for the product.

For instance, a great deal of adverse publicity was generated when different media condemned Union Carbide’s negligence in the Bhopal gas tragedy through articles and editorials.

Goals of Publicity

These can be divided into the following three goals:

Merchandising or sales Orientation

The main purpose of this type of publicity is to increase sales. When some celebrity is called to give autographs in a sportswear shop, the purpose is to draw more customers to buy sportswear.

Example: If a departmental store organizes a demonstration to exhibit its kitchenware products and invites housewives, it is clearly to sell its products. Here the impact of publicity is measured by the quantum of sales increase.

Entertainment Orientation

These are events whose main aim is to generate goodwill, image, etc. Many companies showcase it by organizing a musical night. This gets a lot of media coverage. Here sales have no relevance.

Educational Orientation

Holding a program, the proceeds of which are given to a developmental activity such as a theatre building or a sports complex, or indoor stadium, etc. In each of the above, the goal should be identified. Most events cover more than one goal.

The first goal mentioned above is similar to sales promotion, and the remaining two looks like public relation. The first method as above achieves the short-term objective and the remaining two achieve the long-term objective.

Therefore careful planning of publicity is to be done in the context of overall marketing communication.

Example: Assume that a new super bazaar is opening in the locality. How to create interest in the public? A series of events is to be organized to generate publicity. Just giving some sweet packets on the opening day will not draw the attention of the press or the public. Even a tape cutting/ribbon won’t generate enough publicity unless a very popular person does it.

Therefore, the store should think of some unique method to get publicity. If some interesting product or product demonstration or unique offer to the public is announced, this may get the public as well as the attention of the press. The local media should be involved.

Most big malls organize publicity in the midst of advertising and promotion. Publicity with heavy promotion and advertising will serve the purpose. This is exactly being done during the festive seasons. Companies make their presence felt by opening more branches say Food World or Life Style.

  • Tapan K Panda, Marketing Management, Excel Books.

  • Schramm Wilbur, How Communication Works, in the Process and Effects of Mass Communication, Ed. Wilbur Schramm and Donald F. Roberts, 1971.

  • Burke Raymond R. and Thomas K. Srull, “Competitive Interference and Consumer Memory for Advertising”, Journal of Consumer Research, June 15, 1988.

  • Strong E. K., The Psychology of Selling, McGraw-Hill, 1925.

  • http://www.ibimapublishing.com/journals/JMRCS/2013/584547/584547.html

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